The SMU football team will face the Nevada Wolf Pack in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24, David A.K. Matlin, the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl director, announced Sunday.
When the announcement was made last week that the Mustangs would be playing in their first bowl game in 25 years, the possible opponents were Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii. However, Hawaii lost to Wisconsin over the weekend, leaving Nevada and Fresno State as the top contenders.
Nevada was extended the invitation after WAC champion Boise State got an invitation to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
“We’re excited to play Nevada,” June Jones said in a press release on Sunday. “Having played Nevada Reno many times while I was at Hawaii, I have a great deal of respect for Coach Ault and his program. Their rushing attack will pose a stiff challenge, but we’re really looking forward to the game.”
Jones was not available for comment during Monday’s practice.
After improving from 1-11 in the last two seasons to 7-5 this year, the Mustangs posted the biggest turnaround in the nation with their first winning record since 1997.
Nevada takes on SMU with the top running game in the nation, averaging over 360 rushing yards per game, andset an NCAA record by having three different rushers this season who totaled over 1,000 yards. Led by junior quarterback Colin Kaepernick with 16 rushing touchdowns and an average of 97 yards per game, the Wolf Pack has 48 rushing touchdowns this season.
“They’ve got a great quarterback that can hurt you with his feet, and they’ve got two great backs that are big and strong and can run hard,” senior linebacker Chase Kennemer said. “It’s going to be a challenge but we’re looking forward to it.”
SMU’s defense gave up an average of 169 rushing yards per game, including a season-high 331 rushing yards to Navy.
While freshman quarterback Kyle Padron had not really started studying film until Monday, the Southlake Carroll grad feels he and the team are ready to take on the Wolf Pack.
“It will get us ready and get us back in shape for what we have to do,” Padron said. “Going into next week we’ll be going full throttle to get ready to play.”
Nevada earned an invitation to the post season after wining eight consecutive games, despite starting the season at 0-3. This year’s appearance in the post season marks the Wolf Pack’s fifth consecutive bowl appearance and second Sheraton Hawaii Bowl appearance since 2005 where Nevada defeated the University of Central Florida 49-48 in overtime.
The Mustangs’ last bowl appearance was in the 1984 Aloha Bowl against Notre Dame. SMU defeated the Fighting Irish 27-20 as the No. 8 team in the nation.
Kickoff for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
“We’ll stay focused. Coach Jones and the staff have been to bowls many times before so they’ll keep us on the right track,” Kennemer said. “Going to a bowl game before could give [Nevada] more comfort as to what’s going on, but we’re not worried about it.”