It shouldn't come as a surprise that Nevada (12-1) is the favorite heading into Sunday night's Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA (9 p.m. EST, ESPN). The Wolf Pack had a better record, and for the most part, a better season than Boston College (7-5), which at one point lost five games in a row.
The Line: Nevada is an 8.5-point favorite (according to Bodog.com) entering tonight's Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Bodog.com also predicts that there will be 54 total points scored in the game. 5Dimes.com has Nevada as a 7.5-point favorite and also predicts a point total of 54. The opening line listed Nevada as a 10.5-point favorite with 55 total points being scored.
Notable Boston College Units: Boston College boasts the number one rushing defense in the country, having allowed a total of 962 rushing yards (80.2 yards per game) and seven rushing touchdowns this season. In addition, the Eagles rushing defense allowed an impressive 2.7 yards per carry and only 64 first downs. On the whole, Boston College's defense has allowed 3,720 total yards (2,758 passing) and is ranked 14th in the county in yards per game allowed (310 yards per game). Unfortunately, their offensive production this season has been suspect, as the Eagles are ranked 106th in the nation in total yardage with 3,703 yards (308.6 yards per game; 2,282 passing yards, 1,599 rushing yards). BC was dead last (12th) in the ACC in points per game with 18.8 and ranks 109th nationally in that category.
Notable Nevada Units: Nevada is one of the best offensive teams in the county, in fact, the Wolf Pack rank second in the nation in total yards with 6,962 yards (535.5 yards per game; 3,043 passing yards, 3,977 rushing yards). The Wolf Pack are 53rd in the country in passing yards per game (229.6), third in the nation in total rushing (3,977 rushing yards) and third in the nation in rushing yards per game (305.9 yards). Nevada is fifth in the country in scoring, averaging 42.6 points per game while only giving up 22.1 points per contest. The Wolf Pack defense allows an average of 377.3 yards per game, which ranks 66th in the nation.
Stars To Watch: The biggest star of the game is undoubtedly Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Through 13 games this season, Kaepernick has completed 213-of-326 passes (65.3%) for 2,830 yards, 20 touchdowns and a QB rating of 154.21. For his career, Kaepernick has passed for 9,906 yards and 81 touchdowns. Kaepernick has also racked up 1,091 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns this season. Vai Taua is another name to look out for, as the Wolf Pack running back has amassed 1,522 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns this year. On the other side of the ball, BC touts one of the best linebacker tandems in the country in sophomore Luke Kuechly and senior Mark Herzlich (60 tackles, 47 solo tackles, 4 INT). Kueckly leads the nation in tackles (171 total, 102 solo, 2 INT) and is 23 tackles away from the most tackles in a single season in NCAA history. Montel Harris (1,243 rushing yards, 8 TDs), the Eagles' junior tailback, is also a force to be reckoned with on offense.
The Pick: While I don't expect Boston College to be blown out of the stadium, I do expect Nevada to cover the spread, and do so easily at that. The Wolf Pack have a dynamic offensive attack, led by one of the better quarterbacks in the country in Kaepernick. While BC's defense is commendable, Nevada is just too explosive for Frank Spaziani's Eagles to contain. When the scoreboard clock hits triple zeros, I expect that Nevada will walk away with a 38-24 win over Boston College.
The 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl kicks off at 9 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Radio.