BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Carson Strong threw for 271 yards and five touchdowns, Devonte Lee and Toa Taua each rushed for over 100 yards, and Nevada beat Tulane 38-27 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Tuesday.
Nevada (7-2) finished 2020 the same way it started the year — by playing in the same bowl game, which the Wolf Pack lost 30-21 to Ohio on Jan. 3.
This year’s Potato Bowl allowed Nevada to end with a win after losing its regular-season finale to San Jose State, which cost the Wolf Pack a spot in the Mountain West title game.
“I was so proud of how we stepped up individually,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said. “I challenged this team to win the one-on-one battles and they did that. They didn’t look for someone else to make a play. They stepped up and were accountable.”
Cameron Carroll rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown for Tulane (6-6), which was one of 19 schools to play 11 regular-season games amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Green Wave failed in their bid to win three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history.
“Our margin for error is very slim,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “We’ve got to do the little things every game in order to win. We didn’t do that the whole ballgame and didn’t execute today.”
Nevada built a 19-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the Green Wave rallied, pulling within 26-20 midway through the third quarter.
Then Nevada’s dominant ground game took over, imposing its will on a Tulane defensive line thinned by injuries and absences.
Lee rushed for 105 yards and Toa had 102 yards rushing with a touchdown to go along with 77 yards receiving.
Strong, whose five TD passes tied the Potato Bowl record, earned MVP honors.
“Last game out (against San Jose State) still stings us little bit because we felt like we had a good enough team to win a championship,” Strong said. “But at least you can go home with a smile on your face now. I’m glad we could come back here and redeem ourselves.”
Tulane should be a team to contend with in the American Athletic Conference next season, especially with quarterback Michael Pratt returning. Pratt, who was the first Tulane freshman to win a game as a starter since 1985, also brings back most of his receivers.
Norvell has Nevada headed in the right direction, and Strong will be back next year along with leading rushers Lee and Toa. Nevada will need to find some answers on a defense that will be hit hard by players graduating.
Tulane hosts Oklahoma to open next season on Sept. 4.
Nevada plays at California on Sept. 4.
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