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Ohio faces off with Nevada in Idaho Potato Bowl

By The Associated Press undefined

BOISE, Idaho (AP) —

IDAHO POTATO BOWL: Ohio (6-6 Mid-American Conference) vs. Nevada (7-5, Mountain West Conference), in Boise, Idaho, Friday, 3:30 p.m. EST.

Line: Ohio by 8.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Ohio and Nevada will meet for the first time Friday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It’s the fifth straight bowl appearance for the Bobcats and 11th overall in the past 14 seasons under head coach Frank Solich. Ohio has fond memories of its only other trip to the Potato Bowl when it beat Utah State 24-23 in 2011 for the first bowl victory in program history. The Bobcats had the second-best scoring offense in the MAC this season and closed the regular season scoring 66 against Bowling Green and 52 against Akron. Four of Ohio’s six losses were by three points or less. When Nevada was good this year, it was tough to beat. The Wolf Pack won three of their final four games, including the program’s first road win over a Top 25 team when Nevada won at San Diego State. But the Wolf Pack also had losses of 71 (at Oregon), 51 (vs. Hawaii), 28 (at Wyoming) and 26 (at Utah State). Nevada has never won bowl games in consecutive years, but is looking to follow up on last year’s 16-13 overtime win over Arkansas State in the Arizona Bowl. Doing so would mean winning on Boise’s blue turf, where the Wolf Pack haven’t won since 1997 — including two previous losses in this bowl game.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio offense vs. Nevada defense. The Bobcats were nearly unstoppable on the offensive side late in the season. Over its final seven games, Ohio scored at least 34 points six times. The only time it was slowed came in a 24-21 loss to Miami (Ohio) that cost the Bobcats the MAC East title. The Bobcats rank 20th nationally averaging 34.7 points per game. Nevada’s defense improved as the season progressed and was at its best in its 17-13 upset of San Diego State. But the Wolf Pack allowed 28 points to Fresno State in a win and 33 to UNLV in an overtime loss to close out the regular season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ohio: QB Nathan Rourke will play his final game for the Bobcats. It will be his 39th career game and 37th start since he arrived at Ohio. Rourke was a first-team All-MAC selection after throwing for 2,676 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. He also rushed for 780 yards and 12 scores. In his career, Rourke has thrown for 60 touchdowns and run for another 48.

Nevada: DE Dom Peterson must have a big game if the Wolf Pack are to slow down Ohio’s offense. Peterson led Nevada with eight sacks — second in the Mountain West — and 13½ tackles for loss. Peterson was the only Nevada player named a first-team All-Mountain West selection.

FACTS AND FIGURES

Ohio is trying to to become the third program in MAC history to win bowl games in three consecutive seasons, joining Toledo (1969-71) and Miami (1973-75). … Nevada QB Carson Strong threw for a career-high 351 yards in the regular season finale against UNLV. He has seven TDs and one interception in the past four games. … Ohio is fourth nationally converting 51.6% of third downs.

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