NCF Nation: 2011 kraft bowl preview

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl preview

January, 7, 2011
Here’s a quick preview of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:

WHO TO WATCH: BC quarterback Chase Rettig. Much attention will be paid to BC’s rushing defense in this game, and rightfully so, but if the Eagles can’t score, they’ll never beat a team that ranks fifth in the country in scoring offense at 42.62 points per game. Rettig has shown progress since his first start, which came against Notre Dame. He is 5-3 as the Eagles' starter, and has completed 86 of 161 passes for 1,117 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions. This game could be a good springboard for him heading into the offseason, and BC needs it to be, as the inconsistency at quarterback has been one of its biggest obstacles in recent years.

WHAT TO WATCH: BC’s rushing defense against Nevada’s ground game. Boston College is allowing just 80.17 yards per game on the ground and has allowed just one 100-yard rusher the past two seasons (Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams in ’09). Nevada enters the bowl averaging 305.92 rushing yards. Running back Vai Taua ranks sixth in the nation, averaging 127.83 yards per game while quarterback Colin Kaepernick ranks 34th with 91.08. The duo has combined for 39 rushing touchdowns this season and holds the NCAA record for the most touchdowns and points scored by teammates in a career.

WHY WATCH: The matchup between BC’s rushing defense and Nevada’s offense is reason enough to watch this game, as they’re two of the best in the country. But this is also the final chance for the ACC to finish with its first winning record in bowl season since 2005, and BC is looking to stop a two-game bowl losing streak.

PREDICTION: Nevada 35, Boston College 20 – The Eagles’ defense is good, but it can’t do it all and will wear out for the offense's inability to sustain drives. Nevada's defense isn't all that bad, either, holding opponents to about 22 points per game. Rettig is still in the developmental phase, and BC’s offense won’t have enough firepower in the end to match Nevada’s offense.
No. 15 Nevada is having the best season in school history. Now the Wolf Pack have got to win their bowl game. They have lost four straight, including a lopsided 45-10 game to SMU in the Hawaii Bowl last season. Running back Vai Taua was academically ineligible for that game, but he is playing against Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Sunday night. Here is a quick preview:

WHO TO WATCH: Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. This is your last chance to watch Kaepernick play at Nevada, and for those of you who have missed out, you should definitely tune in. The list of school and NCAA records he has fills up more than a page in the Nevada Bowl Media Guide. Here are just a few – the only player to pass for over 2,000 yards and run for over 1,000 yards in three seasons; first quarterback to rush for over 4,000 yards and pass for over 9,000 yards in a career; and the third player to rush for 20 touchdowns and pass for 20 touchdowns in one season (Cam Newton and Tim Tebow are the others). His mastery of the Pistol offense has allowed Nevada to reach the heights that it has, and led him to share WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors with Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

WHAT TO WATCH: Nevada run game vs. Boston College run defense. Classic matchup here. The Eagles bring the No. 1 run defense into the game, while the Wolf Pack have the No. 3 rushing offense, averaging 305.9 yards per game. The Eagles have the top tackler in the country in Luke Kuechly so you can bet he will be heavily involved in trying to not only slow down Kaepernick, but Taua as well. The two had over 1,000 yards rushing this season, and Boston College does not have much experience defending the Pistol offense.

WHY WATCH: One more crack for a non-AQ team to beat a team from an automatic qualifying conference. The non-AQs are 3-2 in bowl games featuring matchups with teams from automatic qualifying conferences, with the big TCU victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl as the one that stands out. Nevada has only beaten two AQ teams since coach Chris Ault returned to coach the team in 2004. The Wolf Pack have never beaten a team from an AQ conference in their 10 previous bowl appearances.

PREDICTION: Nevada 31, Boston College 20. Though the Eagles have a terrific run defense, the combination of Kaepernick and Taua is going to prove to be too difficult to stop.