If a bowl game is streamed over the Internet and played between two conference foes, did it really happen?
Yes, and Nevada has the trophy to prove it.
The Wolf Pack claimed the inaugural Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl from Mountain West bunkmate Colorado State, 28-23 in Tucson on Tuesday night.
Nevada (7-6) was guided by the ground efforts of James Butler, who rushed 24 times for 189 yards and two touchdowns, including a four-yard burst that put the Wolf Pack on top with 1:06 remaining. Butler’s first score came on a 77-yard jaunt that nudged Nevada to a 13-7 lad with 6:38 left in the first half. Colorado State answered Butler’s touchdown with a field goal, but Elijah Mitchell returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to stake Nevada to a 19-10 lead.
Colorado State (7-6) scored 13 of the next 16 points, notching a 29-yard Wyatt Bryan field goal just before the break, a nine-yard Jasen Oden, Jr., run that pulled the Rams to within 22-20 with 3:55 left in the third quarter, and another Bryan field goal that gave Colorado State a 23-22 lead with 3:40 to play in the game.
Colorado State had a chance to re-take the lead one last time after Nevada’s final score, moving to the Wolf Pack 21 with nine seconds remaining, but Rams receiver Jordon Vaden failed to get out of bounds after a nine-yard reception with no timeouts remaining.
Nick Stevens led Colorado State with 310 passing yards on 22-of-42 passing and one rushing score. Izzy Matthews led the Rams’ rushing game with 87 yards on 12 carries.
Tyler Stewart completed 6-of-13 passes for 74 yards for Nevada while rushing six times for 29 yards.
The win gives Nevada its first bowl victory since a Colin Kapernick-led Wolf Pack took down Boston College in the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Colorado State and Nevada became the first conference mates to meet in a postseason game since LSU and Alabama squared off in the 2012 BCS National Championship — though, unlike that game, these teams did not meet in the regular season. Tonight’s game represented just the 14th all-time meeting between the Rams and Wolf Pack; Colorado State holds an 11-3 lead.