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UNR back on Cougars’ football slate

Brigham Young is happy to have UNR back on its football schedule. The Cougars are even happier that when they play at Mackey Stadium in Reno on Nov. 30, Super Bowl-bound quarterback Colin Kaepernick and retired Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault won’t be with them.

The last time those two tangled with BYU was in Provo, Utah, in 2010. The Wolf Pack skipped town with a convincing 27-13 victory. Kaepernick accounted for 278 yards of offense and two touchdowns, and he wasn’t sacked.

“Nevada had a great combination with Kaepernick and Coach Ault,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. “I think those two really established the Wolf Pack as a really solid football team. They never had a drop-off in all those years under Ault, and they are going to be a good program going forward.”

Holmoe is a big fan of Kaepernick as he leads the San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. This is the 49ers’ sixth trip to the big game, and Holmoe, a former San Francisco player and assistant coach, has Super Bowl rings from the past four.

“Kaepernick has a huge arm and has mobility,” Holmoe said. “The quarterback position is hard to evaluate at every level, but the great quarterbacks have those intangibles that you can’t measure. Joe Montana and Steve Young had them, and obviously Coach (Jim) Harbaugh believes Kaepernick has them. He’s really good.”

The last time BYU played in Reno was in 2002. The Wolf Pack won, 31-28. November’s return visit also will be a homecoming for senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who played at Reno’s McQueen High School. The Wolf Pack will play at BYU in 2014 and 2019.

With the addition of UNR, the Cougars will face a team from Nevada the next three seasons. BYU previously scheduled a home-and-home series with UNLV beginning in 2014 in Provo.

“We have a rivalry with UNLV and have so many fans in Vegas, and so many of our Southern California fans can go to Vegas when we play. I love that,” Holmoe said. “I think UNR could be similar. … They have a good reputation, they have earned respect as a good solid team, and they are regional, and a lot of our people can get there.”

■ FOOTBALL SCHEDULE – BYU will play six games in Provo and six on the road this year. The season begins Aug. 31 at Virginia. BYU will host Texas on Sept. 7, Utah on Sept. 21 and Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 27. The Cougars play at Utah State on Oct. 4, host Georgia Tech on Oct. 12, play at Houston on Oct. 19 and host Boise State on Oct. 26.

BYU will play at Wisconsin on Nov. 9, host Idaho State on Nov. 16 and play at Notre Dame on Nov. 23. The Cougars wrap up the regular season at UNR.

If BYU becomes bowl eligible, it will play in either a Bowl Championship Series bowl or the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.

■ MORE SCHEDULING – BYU announced the home-and-home series with Hawaii is canceled. The Cougars were contracted to play in Honolulu on Dec. 7, the same day as the Mountain West title game. Next year’s scheduled game in Provo also is canceled.

Wisconsin will play at BYU to open the 2017 season. BYU is working with Texas to extend their series after the Sept. 7 game in Provo and the Sept. 6, 2014, game in Austin, Texas.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall will announce his 2013 recruiting class at 6 p.m. Wednesday on BYUtv (Cox 352).

■ SUPER BOWL BOUND – Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta will become the 39th former BYU player or coach to participate in a Super Bowl and the first Cougar to start in the game since defensive end Brett Keisel started for Pittsburgh against Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV in 2011.

Pitta played at BYU in 2004 and from 2007 to 2009 and is the Cougars’ all-time leader for a tight end with 221 receptions for 2,901 yards and 21 touchdowns. The last time Pitta was in a “bowl” game was in the 2009 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, in which he caught a touchdown pass in BYU’s 44-20 victory over Oregon State.

■ SATURDAY HOOPS – BYU (17-6, 7-2 West Coast Conference) hosts Santa Clara (17-6, 5-3) at 6 p.m. Saturday on BYUtv (Cox 352). The Cougars beat the Broncos in Santa Clara, Calif., 82-64 on Jan. 12. Tyler Haws scored 24 points, and Bishop Gorman High product Anson Winder added a season-high 10 points.

Dave McCann is a news anchor for KSL television in Salt Lake City and play-by-play voice for BYU sports on BYUtv. He also is the host of True Blue, which airs at 5:30 p.m. Mondays on BYUtv. He can be reached at dmccann@ksl.com or on Twitter: @DaveMcCannKSL.

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