RENO — UNR might not get the respect it thinks it deserves playing in the shadow of Boise State in the Western Athletic Conference, but California coach Jeff Tedford is calling the Wolf Pack a Top 25 team.
UNR stormed past the Bears from the Pacific-10 Conference 52-31 on Friday night.
“If I had a vote, I’d vote for them,” Tedford said after fans in the sellout crowd rushed the Mackay Stadium field. “They’d be competitive in the Pac-10.”
Colin Kaepernick rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 181 yards and two more scores for the Wolf Pack (3-0), who entered leading the nation in total offense with a 592-yard average and tacked on 497 against the Bears.
“Their offense is so tough,” Tedford said. “I think they can run that offense against anyone. They know what they are doing, and they’re hard to stop.”
Marlon Johnson scored on a 65-yard interception return for Nevada, and Vai Taua added 151 yards rushing, including a 54-yard run that made it 45-24 with 7:43 left.
Shane Vereen rushed for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns for the Bears (2-1), who entered with a 22-1-1 record against UNR and had won their only previous contest in Reno, 81-6 in 1915. Kevin Riley passed for 277 yards and a touchdown but also threw three interceptions.
“This team is now in the history books,” UNR coach Chris Ault said. “It’s been coming. It’s been a long while.
“It’s a great win, no question about it. It’s great not only because it’s a Pac-10 team (but) because Cal is a good football team. This gives us confidence that we can play with anybody.”
Kaepernick moved into a tie for seventh with Missouri’s Brad Smith in NCAA career rushing touchdowns with 45. This season the 6-foot-6-inch senior has thrown for six touchdowns and run for seven.
“This is the biggest win of my career, definitely,” he said.
For the ninth time in their careers, Kaepernick and Taua surpassed 100 yards rushing in the same game. Last year they teamed with Luke Lippincott to become the first backfield trio in NCAA history to each rush for more than 1,000 yards in the same season.UNR 52
KEY: Colin Kaepernick ran for three touchdowns and passed for two, guiding the Wolf Pack to a 3-0 start.
NEXT: UNR at Brigham Young, 3 p.m. Sept. 25, The Mtn. (334)