American Football Database
Nevada Wolf Pack football
First season 1896
Athletic director Cary Groth
Head coach Chris Ault
Home stadium Mackay Stadium
Year built 1966
Stadium capacity 30,000
Stadium surface FieldTurf (2000- )
Natural grass (1966-99)
Location Reno, Nevada
League NCAA Division I FBS
Conference Mountain West Conference
Past conferences
  • WAC (2000-11)
  • Big West (1992-99)
  • Big Sky (1979-91)
  • Division 1-AA Independent (1978)
  • Division II Independent (1973-77)
  • Independent (1969-72)
  • Far West Conference (1954-68)
  • Independent (1940-53)
  • Far West Conference (1925-39)
  • Independent (1896-1924)
All-time record 510–441–34
Postseason bowl record 4–8
Conference titles 14
Heisman winners 0 (1, top 5 finalist)
Consensus All-Americans 1 Division I FBS (27 Division I FCS)
Colors Navy Blue and Silver            
Fight song Hail to our Sturdy Team
Mascot Alphie and Wolfie Jr.
Marching band Pride of the Sierra
Website Nevada Wolf Pack

The Nevada Wolf Pack football program represents the University of Nevada, Reno (commonly referred to as "Nevada" in athletics) in college football. The Wolf Pack will compete in the Mountain West Conference at the Football Bowl Subdivision level of the NCAA starting in 2012. Nevada's current head coach is Chris Ault, in his third stint for the Wolf Pack.

The Wolf Pack's home field is Mackay Stadium in Reno, which opened in October 1966 with a seating capacity of 7,500. After several expansions, the stadium currently seats 30,000. The playing field sits at an elevation of 4610 feet (1405 m) above sea level. Originally natural grass, it was replaced with FieldTurf in 2000, and permanent lighting was added in 2003.[1]

Bowl games

Nevada won in their first bowl game, 13–6 against North Texas in the Salad Bowl on New Year's Day 1948. They were invited to their second bowl game one season later, but lost to Villanova. Nevada was not invited to another bowl game for another 43 years. Nevada had joined Division 1-AA (now known as the FCS) when it was formed in 1978, and would not be eligible for Division 1-A bowl games until joining the Big West in 1992. Nevada was invited to the Las Vegas Bowl the first year after joining the 1-A level. Nevada lost their first two bowl games after joining the Big West, including the first overtime game played at the Division 1-A level against Toledo. Nevada won their first bowl game in 48 years in the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl against Ball State. Nevada would not reach another bowl game for 9 years after the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl, but would win the 2005 Hawaii Bowl by a single point in overtime against Central Florida 49–48. Nevada reached a bowl the following 5 seasons, losing four in a row before beating Boston College 20–13 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco to break the losing streak. Nevada would play a bowl game against a ranked team for the first time in the 2011 Hawaii Bowl where they lost to Southern Miss.

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
January 1, 1948 Salad Bowl W North Texas 13 6
January 1, 1949 Harbor Bowl L Villanova 7 27
December 18, 1992 Las Vegas Bowl L Bowling Green 34 35
December 14, 1995 Las Vegas Bowl L Toledo 37 40*
December 18, 1996 Las Vegas Bowl W Ball State 18 15
December 24, 2005 Hawaiʻi Bowl W Central Florida 49 48*
December 31, 2006 MPC Computers Bowl L Miami (FL) 20 21
December 22, 2007 New Mexico Bowl L New Mexico 0 23
December 30, 2008 Humanitarian Bowl L Maryland 35 42
December 24, 2009 Hawaiʻi Bowl L SMU 10 45
January 9, 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl W Boston College 20 13
December 24, 2011 Hawai'i Bowl L Southern Miss 17 24
Total 12 bowl games 4–8 *=overtime

1923 Cal game

A game that will always be remembered in Nevada football history was the improbable 0-0 tie against California in 1923. Cal entered the game in the midst of a 50-game undefeated streak, 4 consecutive conference championships, and two consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. The team was so dominant it was known as the "Wonder Team." [2] The fact that the Wolf Pack, a much smaller program from a lower division, held powerhouse Cal scoreless in Berkeley makes this final score one of the most interesting in college football history. Cal would go on to finish the season with a 9-0-1 record, and claims 1923 as one of their national championship years.

NCAA Records

In the 2009 football season, the University of Nevada became the only team in NCAA football history to have 3 players break 1,000 yards rushing during the same season. The 3 players to accomplish this feat for the Wolf Pack were running backs Luke Lippincott and Vai Taua along with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.[3]

Longest Punt - 99 yards - Pat Brady, Nevada vs. Loyola (CA) 1950

Most Yards Receiving Career - 5,005 yards - Trevor Insley (1996–99)

Most Yards Receiving Season - 2,060 yards - Trevor Insley (1999)

Highest Average Receiving Yards Per Game, Career - 160.8 yards - 140.9 yards - Alex Van Dyke (1994–95)

Highest Average Receiving Yards Per Game, Season - 187.3 yards - Trevor Insley (1999)

Most Games Gaining 100 Receiving Yards or More Career - 26 games - Trevor Insley (1996–99)

Most Games Gaining 200 Receiving Yards or More - 6 games - Trevor Insley (1999)

Most Consecutive Games Gaining 200 Receiving Yards or More - 3 games - Trevor Insley (1999)

  • tied with Howard Twilley of Tulsa (1965)

Most Receiving Yards Gained in a Game Without Scoring a Touchdown - 326 yards - Nate Burleson, Nevada vs. San Jose St. (2001)

Most Rushing Touchdowns by a Quarterback throughout a career -59- Colin Kaepernick (2007–10)

  • tied with Eric Crouch of Nebraska (1998-01)

The only quarterback in the history of College Football to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards - Colin Kaepernick (2007–10)

Nevada is the only college football program to win a conference title in its first FBS season after moving up from a lower division - 1992 Big West Champions

I-AA history

Nevada moved up to Division I-A in 1992 when it joined the Big West Conference. The Wolf Pack had competed in Division I-AA since the formation of that division in 1978, moving up from Division II. Before joining the Big Sky Conference in 1979, Nevada competed in the Far West conference, and as a Division II independent in football.[4] Nevada competed in the Division I-AA playoffs in its first two seasons, when just four teams were selected. They returned to the national semi-finals in 1983 and 1985, when the playoffs included 12 teams, and 1986 with a 16 team field. The Wolf Pack reached the national championship game in 1990, and the quarterfinals in 1991.[5] In its 14 years in Division I-AA, Nevada made the playoffs seven times, and went undefeated during the regular season three times (1978, 1986, 1991), compiling an overall record of 122-47-1 (.720). Nevada would record a record of 9-7 in the Division I-AA Playoffs during their time in the Big Sky Conference. In 13 years of Big Sky membership, the Wolf Pack won four conference titles (1983, 1986, 1990, 1991). The Wolf Pack won the Big West title in its first year in Division I-A in 1992.

Nevada I-AA (FCS) Playoff History
  • 1978 Semi-Final: vs. Massachusetts L-21-44
  • 1979 Semi-Final: @ Eastern Kentucky L-30-33 (2OT)
  • 1983 1st Round: @ Idaho State W-27-20
  • 1983 Quarterfinal: vs. North Texas W-20-17 (2OT)
  • 1983 Semi-Final: @ Southern Illinois L-7-23
  • 1985 1st Round: vs. Arkansas State W-24-23
  • 1985 Quarterfinal: @ Furman L-12-35
  • 1986 1st Round: vs. Idaho W-27-7
  • 1986 Quarterfinal: vs. Tennessee State W-33-6
  • 1986 Semi-Final: vs. Georgia Southern L-38-48
  • 1990 1st Round: vs. Louisiana- Monroe W-27-14
  • 1990 Quarterfinal: vs. Furman W-42-35 (3OT)
  • 1990 Semi-Final: vs. Boise State W-59-52 (3OT)
  • 1990 Championship: @. Georgia Southern L-13-36
  • 1991 1st Round: vs. McNeese State W-22-16
  • 1991 Quarterfinal: vs. Youngstown State L-28-30

I-AA (FCS) Playoff Record: 9 Wins, 7 Losses

Move to I-A and 1-A/FBS History

The change from Division I-AA to Division I-A brought a lot of excitement to Wolf Pack fans. In 1991, Nevada's final season in Division I-AA, the Wolf Pack recorded what still stands as one of the biggest comebacks in Division I NCAA Football history when they defeated Weber State 55-49, after trailing by 35 points in the second half. Backup quarterback Chris Vargas led a second half Nevada comeback of 41 unanswered points to win the game. After the game, Vargas was given the nickname, "The Comeback Kid," and would become one of the greatest quarterbacks to play for the Wolf Pack.

In 1992, Nevada became the first NCAA Football team to win a conference championship in its first Division I-A season. Nevada won the 1992 Big West Conference title after beating Utah State in the final conference game of the season. Led by Vargas again coming off the bench, Nevada came from behind late in the 4th quarter to win, 48-47.

Nevada has a long standing rivalry with Boise State from the Western Athletic Conference. The rivalry with Boise State does not seem to contain the same amount of bitterness as Nevada's rivalry against UNLV. However, many feel that this has become a more meaningful, and more important rivalry for the Pack since UNLV has become somewhat irrelevant in football over the past few years. Some of the most important games in the history of both programs have been played against each other. In 1990 the Wolf Pack won what is still thought of by many fans to be the most important and thrilling victory in Nevada Football history. In the 1990 season Nevada would win the Big Sky Championship with an overall season record of 13-2. Nevada's only regular season loss was a 30-14 conference loss to the Broncos in Boise, Id. Nevada and Boise would both go on to the Division I-AA Playoffs. The two teams would meet in the 1990 Division I-AA Semi-Finals in Reno for a rematch of their earlier battle that year. With the winner obviously going to the championship, the game would take 3 overtime sessions to find a winner. Nevada Fullback Ray Whalen scored the decisive touchdown in the third overtime with an 8 yard run into the endzone. Nevada's defense would hold Boise after the score on Boise's turn during the alternating overtime sessions. That would be the second game in a row that Nevada played were they would need 3 overtime periods to finish the game. Nevada had defeated Furman the week prior in a triple overtime game. There has been no other game played between the two teams that has taken place in the post-season up to date. Nevada would go on to lose to Georgia Southern by a score of 36-13 in Statesboro, Ga. In 2006 Nevada and Boise State would meet in Reno in Boise State's final regular season game. Boise State won the game giving the Broncos a birth into the Fiesta Bowl. This would be Boise State's first BCS bowl game, where they would go on to beat Oklahoma in dramatic fashion. In 2010 the two teams had met for yet another very meaningful game nearing the end of the season. Nevada would beat Boise State in another dramatic overtime game, ending the Broncos' chances of playing in the Rose Bowl.

On October 14, 2007, the Wolf Pack and the Boise State Broncos would play in yet another historic game to set a new NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record for total points scored with 136. Boise State won the game 69-67 in the second half of the fourth overtime period, when Broncos LB Tim Brady tripped up Nevada's freshman QB Colin Kaepernick on the mandatory two point conversion attempt.

Nevada was invited to play the Maryland Terrapins in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl on December 30, 2008. The Wolf Pack would finish the 2008 regular season tied for second place in the WAC, with a record of 7-5 and 5-3 in the WAC. Nevada would trail Louisiana Tech 31-14 with 1:30 left in the 3rd quarter, only to come from behind in the final game of the regular season to win 35-31. The victory all but stamped a bowl invitation for Nevada.

The 2010 Nevada football season was considered by most to be the greatest season ever played, only rivaled by the 1990 season. Nevada would only lose one game against Hawaii on its way to a 13-1 record beating ranked California and Boise State teams, along with beating BYU on the road and Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Lead by Colin Kaepernick Nevada would wins a share of its first WAC title since 2005, and would ruin #4 at the time Boise State's certain invitation to a BCS game.

Nevada currently holds an 22-15 series lead against arch rival UNLV. The two schools battle annually on the gridiron for the Fremont Cannon, the largest and most expensive trophy in college athletics. The game was played only four times in the 1980s, but has been played every year since 1989. The Wolf Pack won the 2011 game by a score of 37-0 in Reno, Nevada. The shutout victory for Nevada was the first shutout in the history of the rivalry. Nevada has won the past 7 games against UNLV. The 7 game win streak in the rivalry is the longest win streak by either team in the series.

Nevada's football program has had 40 All-Americans, and has had a total of 45 All-America Selections. Nevada has also had three players or coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. They are coach Chris Ault, running back Frank Hawkins (1977-80), and former coach Buck Shaw. Fullback Marion Motley is the only Nevada player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Three-time Super Bowl Champion Charles Mann played for Nevada from 1979 to 1982 and was named Most Valuable Defensive Lineman in 1982.[6] Mann was inducted into the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.[7] Another Nevada alumnus with a long career in the NFL was free safety Brock Marion. He was selected in the seventh round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys; where he played most of his career, and won two Super Bowls. Marion was selected to three Pro-Bowls, and one All- Pro team.

On August 18, 2010 the University of Nevada accepted an invitation to the Mountain West Conference along with Fresno State. The Wolf Pack, and Fresno State are scheduled to leave the WAC and start play in the Mountain West Conference in 2012. Both programs will join Boise State who is also leaving the WAC for the Mountain West in 2011. The move to the Mountain West will place Nevada in the same conference as in-state rival UNLV for the first time since 1995.

Defensive Tackle Brett Roy would become Nevada's first FBS consensus 1st Team All-America after his stellar Senior season in 2011. Roy recorded 64 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, and 10 sacks.

"Blue Friday"

On November 26, 2010 #19 Ranked Nevada faced #3 AP #4 BCS Ranked Boise State in Reno, a match up hyped as the biggest sporting event in Reno for the last 100 years. Boise State had the nation's longest winning streak at 24 games, and were trying to jump Oregon in the BCS poll to have a shot at the National Title with a win against Nevada. At the start of the 2nd half Nevada was trailing 24-7 but mounted a furious comeback when Nevada Senior Quarterback Colin Kaepernick scored a 18-yard rushing touchdown in the 3rd quarter cutting the lead to 24-14. In the 4th quarter the Wolf Pack scored a rushing touchdown when receiver Rishard Matthews broke through the defense on a reverse to cut it to 24-21. On the next Wolf Pack Possession Nevada Kicker Anthony Martinez kicked a 23-yard field goal to tie the game 24-24. Boise State would answer with a quick touchdown, when Kellen Moore hit Doug Martin on a screen for a 79-yard touchdown pass to go up 31-24. With 4:53 remaining in the game. Kaepernick led the Wolf Pack on a 14-play drive capping off with a touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews to tie the game at 31-31 with 13 seconds remaining. Kellen Moore then completed a Hail Mary pass down field to the Nevada 9 yard line with 2 seonds left, but Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a 26-Yard Field goal as time expired in regulation. In Overtime, Brotzman missed a 29-yard Field goal during the Bronco's turn on offense during the first overtime. When Nevada got its turn on offense Anthony Martinez kicked a 34-yard Field goal to give Nevada the biggest win in the history of the program, and knocked Boise State out of BCS title and Rose Bowl contention. Nevada would go on to win a share of the 2010 WAC title 8 days later after beating Louisiana Tech 35-17.

Other Notable Nevada Victories

Nevada vs Fresno State November 26, 2005: Fresno State was ranked number 16 in the nation, and just came off a narrow defeat at the hands of the eventual National Champion USC Trojans. Nevada would take and early lead that it would only relinquish for a very short time in the 3rd quarter. Back-up running back Robert Hubbard had a standout game, as Nevada would recover a late Fresno State on-sides kick attempt to seal the 38-35 victory, and Nevada's first WAC Championship. This was also Nevada's first conference championship in 8 years.

Nevada vs Utah State November 14, 1992: Nevada would beat Utah State after a late 4th quarter comeback. Nevada was losing by 23 points with just over 5 minutes left when QB Chris Vargas would lead them to a one-point, 48-47 victory. The win clinched the Big West Conference title for Nevada in their first season after joining Division 1-A. Nevada is still the only program to win a conference title during their first year in the FBS (Division 1-A), after entering the subdivision from a lower subdivision.

Nevada vs Weber State November 2nd, 1991: Nevada recorded the largest come from behind victory in Division 1 NCAA history when it beat Weber State 55-49 in 1991. Nevada was down by 35 points at halftime when QB Fred Gatlin was replaced by Chris Vargas. Nevada would go on the score at will and only allow one touchdown by Weber State the entire second half. Nevada would go on to win the 1991 Big Sky Championship. Michigan State tied the record 35 point comeback when they beat Northwestern in 2006, and became the first school to do so in the FBS subdivision.

Nevada vs Boise State December 8, 1990: Nevada and Boise State met for the second time in 1990 for the semi-final of the 1990 NCAA Division 1-AA National Championship. Nevada had lost to Boise State earlier that year in a conference game 30-14. The Wolf Pack would play 3 overtimes periods for the second playoff game in a row, and would win 59-52 after running back Ray Whalen scored a touchdown. Nevada would go on to lose to Georgia Southern in the National Championship game the following week. This is still the only postseason game ever played between these two schools.

Nevada @ UNLV September 16, 1978: Nevada had not beaten UNLV in 4 straight tries, and was a 20 point underdog with the game being played in Las Vegas in 1978. Nevada would outplay the Rebels however, and go on to win 23-14. The story that came after the game is what makes the victory remembered by Wolf Pack alumni and fans. Chris Ault convinced the airport security to let the team disassemble the Fremont Cannon so that the team could bring it back to Reno on the plane. Nevada running back Frank Hawkins carried the barrel of the cannon onto the plane. Chris Ault still tells this story during the week of the UNLV game to get his players fired up.

Conference Championships

Nevada Conference Championship Seasons
  • Season-Conference-Record (Con. Record)
  • 1932 Far West 3-3-2 (2-0-1)
  • 1933 Far West 4-4-0 (3-0-0)
  • 1939 Far West 5-4-0 (3-0-0)
  • 1983 Big Sky 9-5-0 (6-1-0)
  • 1986 Big Sky 13-1-0 (7-0-0)
  • 1990 Big Sky 13-2-0 (7-1-0)
  • 1991 Big Sky 12-1-0 (8-0-0)
  • 1992 Big West 7-5-0 (5-1-0)
  • 1994 Big West 9-2-0 (5-1-0)
  • 1995 Big West 9-3-0 (6-0-0)
  • 1996 Big West 9-3-0 (4-1-0)
  • 1997 Big West 5-6-0 (4-1-0)
  • 2005 WAC 9-3-0 (7-1-0)
  • 2010 WAC 13-1-0 (7-1-0)

Future Move

In 2012, Nevada will leave the WAC and move to the MWC (Mountain West Conference), as well as fellow WAC member Fresno State. This move was influenced by Boise State's move to the MWC, as well as the MWC's strength of schedule, which is superior to the WAC's. It will also intensify the rivalry with UNLV.

Retired numbers

  • 41 - Marion Motley, played three seasons with the Wolf Pack (1940–42) [8] and has been considered by many as "The Jackie Robinson of Football." Motley was one of four African Americans to break professional football's color barrier when he signed with the Cleveland Browns in 1946, and helped lead the Browns to four straight AAFC titles and the 1950 NFL title in their first year in the league. Motley was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968, located in his homeown of Canton, Ohio, was selected to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994.
  • 27 - Frank Hawkins, played four seasons with the Wolf Pack (1977–80) and was a three-time All-American (Division I-AA) at running back, and led Division I-AA in rushing twice. Selected in the tenth round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, he played seven seasons with the Raiders and was a member of the 1984 team that won Super Bowl XVIII. His 5,333 career rushing yards at Nevada ranks fourth all-time in NCAA history. He would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.


  2. California Historical Series, Stassen College Football Information, retrieved January 25, 2009.
  4. CFB Data Warehouse
  5. FCS Preview
  6. "Charles Mann (1980-82/ Football)". Nevada Wolf Pack Athletics Official Site. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  7. "Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame". Nevada Wolf Pack Athletics Official Site. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  8. Nevada Wolf - Nevada to Honor Anniversary of Marion Motley's Hall of Fame Induction This Season - 2008-08-29 - accessed 2011-11-02

External links

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