Football to Host Northwestern Friday Night at Mackay Stadium

Friday, Sept. 22, 2006 - 5:06 p.m. PT - Mackay Stadium (29,993) - Reno, Nev.

TELEVISION: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Rod Gilmore, Trevor Matich & Heather Cox)
RADIO:  Wolf Pack Sports Network (ESPN Radio 630 AM, Reno)
 Dan Gustin (play-by-play) & Bill Daniel (analyst)
SERIES HISTORY:   First meeting
LAST MEETING: First meeting

Coming off a 28-10 victory over Colorado State in last week’s home opener, the Nevada Wolf Pack (1-2) wraps up its two-game homestand this week, playing host to the Northwestern Wildcats (1-2) on Friday night at Mackay Stadium. ESPN2 will televise Friday night’s game to a national audience with kickoff scheduled for 5:06 p.m. Pacific Time. After downing Colorado State for the first time in school history and getting the team’s first win of the year last week, the Wolf Pack brings a six-game winning streak at Mackay Stadium into this week’s game, which extends back to last season. With 38 returning letterwinners and 14 returning starters, 22nd-year head coach Chris Ault and the Wolf Pack are coming off the team’s best season in nine years after turning in a 9-3 overall record and earning a share of the school’s first WAC title as well as an invitation to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl last season. Nevada was picked to finish third in the WAC in this year’s preseason polls.

ESPN2 will broadcast Friday night’s game to a national audience with Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Rod Gilmore (analyst), Trevor Matich (analyst) and Heather Cox (sidelines) calling the action.

Nevada will appear on television seven times in 2006, including three national TV appearances. ESPN broadcast the season opener with Fresno State, while the Nov. 25 Boise State game will be on ESPN or ESPN2. Nevada’s flagship station, KREN, is scheduled to televise three games (ASU, Hawai’i and Idaho), while ABC will televise the Oct. 21 San Jose State contest to a regional audience. The Mountain West Sports Network (the MTN) will carry the Sept. 30 game at UNLV.

Nevada’s flagship radio station, ESPN 630 AM, will broadcast all 12 regular-season games this year with Dan Gustin (play-by-play) and Bill Daniel (analyst) calling, while fans can watch live video streaming of non-televised WAC games on the internet on a pay-per-view basis this season by logging on to

In the Series with Northwestern
Friday will mark the first meeting between Nevada and Northwestern, while the Wolf Pack holds a 0-1 against schools from the Big Ten Conference. The team’s only meeting with a Big Ten opponent came in the form of a 35-17 loss at Wisconsin on Sept. 4, 1993 in Madison, Wis.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern has turned in a 2-1 record so far this year. Fitzgerald, who was named the national player of the year for the Big Ten champion Wildcats in 1995 and 1996, took over the program after Randy Walker died of an apparent heart attack on June 29. The Wildcats returned 45 letterwinners and 16 starters from last year’s 7-5 Sun Bowl squad. Northwestern opened the 2006 season with a 21-3 win at Miami of Ohio and a 34-17 loss to New Hampshire. The Wildcats are coming off a 14-6 victory over Eastern Michigan last week in Evanston, Ill.

Northern Nevada Heart Walk
Fans will be able to sign up for the 2006 Northern Nevada Heart Walk, and the American Heart Association will be present at Friday’s game with Northwestern to collect donations. Wolf Pack head men’s basketball coach Mark Fox and his wife, Cindy, Nevada’s associate director of athletics, are the honorary chairs of the 19th annual Northern Nevada Heart Walk, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24 at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno. The Nevada athletics department also has three teams participating in the walk, including teams headed by Kim Gervasoni, the Wolf Pack women’s basketball head coach; Heather Wilson, the wife of assistant head football coach Ken Wilson; and Mark and Cindy Fox.

The annual American Heart Association event raises funds to fight heart disease and stroke. There will be a 3K walk and a 5K run for all ages followed by a number of events, including fitness activities, Ask the Expert, fitness assessment area, Eat Street, live music and more. For more information on the Heart Walk, contact the American Heart Association at 775-322-7065 or visit

Team Captains
Senior quarterback Jeff Rowe, senior tight end Anthony Pudewell, junior defensive tackle Matt Hines and senior cornerback Joe Garcia will serve as Nevada’s team captains this season as voted on by their teammates.

Mackay is Back
Last week’s 28-10 victory over Colorado State marked Nevada’s sixth consecutive win at Mackay Stadium. The Wolf Pack turned in a 5-1 record at Mackay Stadium last year, winning its last five home games after opening the season with a loss to Washington State. Since then quarterback Chris Ault led the the Pack to a 17-13 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 1, 1966 in Nevada’s first game in the facility, the Wolf Pack has turned in a 155-45-2 (.772) record at Mackay Stadium.

In his 21-plus years as Nevada’s head coach, Ault has led the team to a 122-25-1 record at Mackay Stadium (.828), including an 11-2 mark over the last two-plus years since returning to the helm for the third time. He has guided the Wolf Pack to 15 seasons with one loss or less at home, including four undefeated campaigns at Mackay Stadium (1976, 1985, 1990, 1994).

Wolf Pack Offense Notches Season Highs
Nevada’s offense notched season highs in just about every category in last week’s victory over Colorado State. The team scored a season-best 28 points in the win, including 21 points in the first half. Led by senior quarterback Jeff Rowe who completed 19-of-22 passes, the Wolf Pack turned in season highs in passing yards (210), first downs (23) and total offense (381 yards). Rowe also added 65 of Nevada’s season-best 171 rushing yards.

Defense Turns in Best Game of the Year
The Wolf Pack defense also turned in its best game of the young season last week against the Rams, holding CSU scoreless in the second half. The defense gave up just three points in the 28-10 victory with the team’s only other score coming on a blocked punt return for touchdown. After giving up more than 300 yards in each of the first two games of the year, Nevada allowed just 177 yards of total offense last week. The team also held Colorado State to Nevada opponent season lows in first downs (10), rushing yards (64) and passing yards (113).

Nevada sacked CSU’s quarterbacks five times, led by senior defensive end J.J. Milan who had a pair of sacks, while the team hauled in two interceptions. Milan, a three-year starter who missed all of last season with a foot injury, has turned in three sacks for a loss of 18 yards this year. He ranks second in the WAC and 16th in the nation with 1.00 sacks per contest.

Senior defensive end Charles Wilson led the team in tackles for the second consecutive week, tallying six tackles (four solo) and a sack and forcing a fumble against CSU. On Sept. 9 at Arizona State, he tied for the team lead with six tackles and blocked a field goal.

Rowe Continues to Climb Career Passing Charts
Senior quarterback Jeff Rowe turned in one of the most efficient showings of his career in last Saturday’s victory over Colorado State, completing 19-of-22 pass attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns. The effort marked the best single-game completion percentage of his career (86.4 percent). Rowe’s previous best was a 73.5 percent game (25-34 attempts for 252 yards and two TDs) Nov. 6, 2004 against San Jose State.

Rowe opened the season with 183 yards and two TDs on 18-of-34 passing at Fresno State, while he completed 17-of-29 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown in the loss at No. 25 Arizona State. He ranks sixth in the WAC in passing yards per game at 185.3 and is fifth in the league and 40th in the country at 220.7 yards of total offense per game. He has thrown five touchdown passes this year, which is second in the WAC behind only Chase Holbrook of New Mexico State who has nine. Rowe has tossed at least one scoring strike in 23 of the last 27 games.

In his final year in the program, Rowe continues to climb Nevada’s career passing charts. He has now thrown for 6,511 yards in his career, which moves him into sixth in the Nevada record book and 25th in the WAC annals, while his 42 passing touchdowns are tied for seventh-best in Wolf Pack history. Rowe also ranks fifth in both career completions (564) and attempts (941).

A 2005 second-team All-WAC selection, Rowe has thrown for over 2,500 yards in each of the last two seasons, including 2,925 yards last year. He ranked second in the league and 21st in the nation in total offense with 264.1 yards per game and was third in the WAC and 30th in the NCAA in passing efficiency at 137.8. Rowe tallied at least 200 passing yards in all but two games in 2005, including two 300-yard outings with a season-best 324 yards against Colorado State. Rowe also tossed at least one touchdown pass in all but one game last year, including three contests with three scoring strikes.

Rowe Named to Davey O’Brien Award Watch List
Nevada senior quarterback Jeff Rowe is one of 34 candidates on the preseason watch list for the 2006 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, the Davey O’Brien Foundation announced Monday. The 2006 watch list for the award, which is presented annually to the nation's best college quarterback, is made up of 34 candidates, including 19 seniors, 12 juniors and three sophomores representing 11 conferences.

Celebrating 30 years, the O’Brien Award is the oldest and most prestigious award in the country for college quarterbacks and is named in honor of the late Davey O’Brien. O’Brien led the TCU Horned Frogs to the 1938 national championship and was the first player to win the Heisman, Walter Camp and Maxwell awards in one season.

Semifinalists will be announced in early November as voted on by the O’Brien Selection Committee, made up of a nationwide panel of sportswriters, commentators and former O’Brien Award winners. The committee will then narrow the field to three finalists before announcing a winner on ESPN’s Home Depot College Football Awards Show scheduled for Dec. 7, 2006, at 7 p.m. EST. The winner will then be honored on Feb. 19, 2007, at the 30th annual Davey O’Brien Awards Dinner at The Fort Worth Club in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Last year’s winner was Vince Young from the University of Texas.

Rowe, Spencer Among Nation’s Leaders in Consecutive Starts, Games with a Reception
Senior quarterback Jeff Rowe and senior wide receiver Caleb Spencer are ranked among the nation’s leaders in consecutive games started and games with a reception, respectively. Rowe has started 27 straight games dating back to the start of the 2004 season, which puts him in seventh nationally. Spencer has caught at least one pass in the last 26 games dating back to 2004, which ris the 10th-longest streak in the nation.

After catching eight passes for 78 yards last week against Colorado State, Spencer is tied for sixth in the WAC and 32nd in the nation with 5.67 receptions per game and eighth in the league with 56.3 receiving yards per contest.

2006 Division I-A Quarterback Consecutive Starts
Kevin Kolb, Sr., Houston 39
Brady Quinn, Sr., Notre Dame 36
Chris Leak, Sr., Florida 36
James Pinkney, Sr., East Carolina 28
Jared Zabransky, Sr., Boise State 28
John Stocco, Sr., Wisconsin 28
Jeff Rowe, Sr., Nevada 27
Jordan Palmer, Sr., UTEP 26
Chad Henne, Jr., Michigan 26
Bret Meyer, Jr., Iowa State 26
2006 Division I-A Consecutive Reception Streak
Steve Odom, Sr., WR, Toledo 40
Vincent Marshall, Sr., WR, Houston 39
Johnny Quinn, Sr., WR, North Texas 37
Brian Leonard, Sr., FB, Rutgers 37
Trent Shelton, Sr., WR, Baylor 36
Clark Harris, Sr., TE, Rutgers 33
Ryne Robinson,  Sr., WR, Miami (Ohio) 28
Dwayne Jarrett, Jr.,  WR, USC 28
Shaun Herbert, Sr., WR, Northwestern 27
Caleb Spencer, WR, Nevada 26
Craig Davis, Jr., WR, LSU 25
Calvin Johnson, Jr., WR, Georgia Tech 25

Spencer Named to Biletnikoff Award Watch List
Senior wide receiver Caleb Spencer is one of 51 players who have been named to the preseason watch list for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, which is annually presented to the top wide receiver in the country by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.

A first-team All-WAC and Academic All-WAC honoree last season, Spencer led the team in receptions (67), yard (889) and touchdown catches (seven) in 2005. He also ranked among the WAC and national leaders in receptions and receiving yards per game.

The Biletnikoff Award watch list will be narrowed down later this fall with the award to be announced at the ESPN’s Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December. The winner will also be honored at a banquet in Tallahassee in February.

Ault Moving Up Career Victories Lists
After leading his team to a 9-3 record last season, College Football Hall of Fame inductee Chris Ault has moved into 15th among active Division I-A coaches in winning percentage (.703). Among active coaches with five years of Division I-A experience, he also ranks fifth in career victories with 178. In his third stint as the head coach of the Wolf Pack, Ault now holds a 178-75-1 record in 21-plus years as a head coach, all at Nevada.

The winningest coach in school history, Ault was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 2005 for his efforts in leading the Wolf Pack to a share of the league title and the school’s first bowl appearance in nine years. During his tenure, Ault has won eight conference championships and taken Nevada to postseason play nine times (three bowl games).

Top Five Winningest Active Division I-A Coaches
1. Bobby Bowden, Florida State 361-108-4 (.765)
2. Joe Paterno, Penn State 356-118-3 (.749)
3. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech 191-102-4 (.650)
4. Jim Tressel, Ohio State 188-70-2 (.727)
5. Chris Ault, Nevada 178-75-1 (.703)

Hubbard Leading Team in Rushing
After carrying the ball 12 times for 88 yards and a touchdown last week against Colorado State, senior running back Robert Hubbard continues to lead the team in rushing. He ranks fourth in the WAC and 35th in the country at 87.3 rushing yards per game. Hubbard had a streak of three consecutive 100-yard rushing games stopped Sept. 9 at No. 25 Arizona State. Limited by injury, he carried the ball 12 times for 71 yards in the loss to the Sun Devils.

Hubbard turned in 103 yards on 17 career in the season opener at Fresno State. He also accomplished the feat in each of the final two contests of the 2005 season, turning in 146 yards and three touchdowns in a Nov. 26 win over then No. 16 Fresno State and 178 rushing yards and two TDs in Nevada’s victory over Central Florida in the Hawaii Bowl.

Garcia on Watch Lists for Nagurski & Lott Awards
Senior cornerback Joe Garcia has been named to the preseason watch lists for two of the most prestigious honors in college football: the Bronko Nagurski Award and the Lott Trophy.

Garcia, who hails from Westminster, Calif., had 72 tackles and four interceptions last year en route to earning first-team All-WAC honors.

He is one of 56 players on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is presented each year by the Charlotte Touchdown Club to the best defensive player in college football as voted on by the Football Writers Association of America. This year’s award will be presented on Dec. 4 at the Westin Hotel-Charlotte.

Garcia was also one of the 42 players named to the 2006 Lott Trophy Watch List.  Named after Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, the Lott Trophy is awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Now in its third year, the Lott Trophy is the first college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player and is sponsored by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation. Voters for the award include selected members of the national media, previous finalists, the Board of Directors of the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation and Master Coaches, a distinguished group of former head college coaches. The winner will be announced at a gala black-tie banquet at The Pacific Club Dec. 10.

Challenging Slate
Nevada has lined up one of the most challenging schedules in the country this season. The Wolf Pack will take on five teams that earned a bowl appearance one year ago (Fresno State, Arizona State, Colorado State, Northwestern and Boise State). Nevada, which received three votes of its own in the preseason USA Today Coaches’ poll, will also take on five opponents that have been ranked or receiving votes in the polls this year (FSU, ASU, CSU, NU, BSU).
 The Wolf Pack will take on three of those five bowl teams at Mackay Stadium, playing host to Colorado State (Poinsettia Bowl) on Sept. 16 and Northwestern (Sun Bowl) on Sept. 22. Boise State, which earned an invitation to the MPC Computers Bowl last year, will travel to Reno on Nov. 25.

Nevada Picked Third in the WAC Preseason Polls
Nevada has been picked to finish third in the WAC this year by both the league’s media and coaches in the preseason polls. The Wolf Pack received 349 points and four first-place votes from the media voters, while the team received 48 points in the coaches’ poll. In 2005, Nevada was picked to finish fourth and fifth in the preseason polls but exceeded all outside expectations by finishing in a tie for first. That marked Nevada’s first WAC title in football and the 13th conference championship in school history (eighth for Chris Ault).

Who’s Back
Nevada returned 38 letterwinners from last year’s 9-3 WAC co-championship squad, including its leading passer (Jeff Rowe) and receiver (Caleb Spencer) and its second-leading rusher (Robert Hubbard) and tackler (Ezra Butler) from one year ago. The team  welcomes back 14 starters and one specialist from 2005. The seven returning starters on offense are QB Jeff Rowe, TE Anthony Pudewell, WR Caleb Spencer, WR Mike McCoy, OL Barrett Reznick, OL Dominic Green and OL Charles Manu. On defense, returning starters include DE Charles Wilson, DT Matt Hines, LB Joshua Mauga, LB Jason DeMars, LB Ezra Butler, CB Joe Garcia and S Sergio Villasenor. Sophomore Brett Jaekle also returns after handling the placekicking and kickoff duties last year.

Nevada in Season Openers
Following its 28-19 loss at Fresno State on Sept. 1, Nevada now holds a 56-41-3 all-time in season openers, while head coach Chris Ault is 14-8 in the first game of his 22 seasons at the helm of the Wolf Pack football program. The Wolf Pack has lost its last three season openers with the last victory coming in 2003 when Nevada turned in a 24-23 win over Southern Utah on Aug. 30 at Mackay Stadium. Prior to Fresno State, the Wolf Pack had last opened the season with a conference game two years ago, falling at Louisiana Tech 38-21 on Sept. 6, 2004.

Up Next
Following Friday’s game with Northwestern, Nevada returns to the road for a pair of games. The Wolf Pack will look to keep the Fremont Cannon in Reno for another year when the team travels to Las Vegas to challenge instate rival UNLV on Sept. 30. Following that game, the team will return to WAC play, heading to Hawai’i on Oct. 7.