Pack doing bowl math

Luke Lippincott isn’t worried about winning the Western Athletic Conference rushing title. He’ll willingly concede that to Idaho’s Deonte Jackson, provided UNR defeats the Vandals on Saturday at Mackay Stadium and it ultimately leads to a bowl berth.

UNR is 3-4, 1-2 in the WAC, with five games to go heading into the game against Idaho (1-7). The Wolf Pack needs three more wins to become bowl eligible, and the team just happens to have three more home games. However, it will probably take seven wins to earn one of the WAC’s three bowl bids, so UNR also will have to win Nov. 2 at New Mexico State or Nov. 24 at San Jose State.

But coach Chris Ault has been around long enough not to take anyone for granted, much less this season, when the bizarre has been the norm throughout college football.

“Each week you see they get better,” Ault said of Idaho, 0-4 in the WAC. “They’re putting points on the board and they have the leading rusher in the conference. Every week they do something new and better.”

Jackson, a freshman, has rushed for 929 yards, is averaging 5.6 yards a carry and has five touchdowns. Lippincott is third in the WAC in rushing yards (792), is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has eight TDs. On Monday he was named WAC Offensive Player of the Week for his 241-yard, two-touchdown game in UNR’s 31-28 victory at Utah State.

Lippincott became the first UNR back to rush for more than 200 yards since Matt Milton had 224 against San Jose State in 2002, and it was UNR’s third-highest total since it went Division I-A in 1992.

“Luke’s very deserving. He did a nice job for us up there at Utah State,” Ault said of Lippincott’s WAC honor, the second by a UNR player this season (Dwayne Sanders was Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 1).

More important than Lippincott’s individual heroics was the way the Wolf Pack rebounded from a tough loss at Boise State and had a short work week to prepare to play at Utah State.

“I was pleased given we had played a tough game on a Sunday night, then had to travel to Logan to play,” he said.

• NOTES — Marko Mitchell has TD catches in three straight games. … The win at Utah State was Colin Kaepernick’s first game as the starting QB. … Idaho linebacker Ben Alexander is out for the year after breaking his leg against New Mexico State. … UNR is 15-9 against Idaho in the series which dates to 1924.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2913.

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