- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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One media voter out of 43 cast their ballot for Nevada in the WAC preseason media poll, drawing scorn and ridicule. Well, it turns out that voter was right. The Wolf Pack won a share of the WAC title with Boise State and Hawaii, capping the best season in school history with its first conference championship since 2005. The big highlight of course was the 34-31 overtime win over Boise State. But the signs were there early that this could be a special season. Go back to the 52-31 win over California in Week 3. The Wolf Pack had their way with the Bears, and won a game over a team from an automatic qualifying conference for the first time in seven tries. That set the stage for what was to come. Colin Kaepernick was better than advertised, and he and Vai Taua partnered to become the most prolific rushing duo in NCAA history. The vaunted Pistol offense began showing up in college football games throughout the country, and coach Chris Ault was named WAC coach of the Year. A defense that was in desperate need of improvement showed development under first-year coordinator Andy Buh. Dontay Moch was his usual disruptive self, and James-Michael Johnson was a revelation. The only setback came at Hawaii, a place where Nevada hasn’t won since 1948. Kaepernick had an uncharacteristic four turnovers, including a fumble as he was crossing the goal line that went out of the end zone. Who knows what might have been had he been able to score there. The reality is that Nevada is a champion.
Offensive MVP: QB Colin Kaepernick. You would run out of space on this page if you wanted to discuss all of his accolades this season. Kaepernick won WAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors this season for not only rushing but passing his way into the record books. He joined Cam Newton and Tim Tebow as the only players in NCAA history to run for 20 TDs and pass for 20 TDs in a season. That is just one highlight. The biggest area of improvement this season was his pass efficiency -- he completed a career-high 65.3 percent of his passes this season.
Defensive MVP: DE Dontay Moch. Though he didn’t win WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors, he still set the league record for tackles for loss. Moch ended up with 22 tackles for a loss on the year and 8.5 sacks.
Turning point: The win over Boise State was the first over a Top 5 team in program history, and set the stage for the team to share the WAC championship.
What’s next: Nevada plays Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, then faces big-time rebuilding, losing Kaepernick, Taua and Moch.
10hDavid Ching and Edward Aschoff
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