ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. For coach Rocky Long, it was just the next game, another brick to continue building his program.
For delighted New Mexico fans, it marked the end of a 46-year skid.
Paul Baker ran for 167 yards in his first start, and Donovan Porterie threw for career-high 354 yards and two touchdowns to help New Mexico beat Nevada 23-0 in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.
The Lobos (9-4) ended a 46-year span without a postseason victory and gave Long, the team's 10th-year coach, his first bowl win in five tries.
"It gets it off our back. We don't have to listen to it anymore," Long said. "But this program was good before we won today."
Long was both defiant and jovial in the interview room, scolding reporters for focusing on the bowl losses including Long's 0-4 mark before Saturday.
"It's you people who make it so important that we have to win to be justified," he said. "It's you folks that write that stuff, not us. We believe. Our players believe. I believe.
"I'm glad you're giving me a soap box, by the way," he added, drawing laughter.
John Sullivan made field goals from 53, 39 and 37 yards, but give credit to New Mexico's defense, which delivered just the second shutout loss for Nevada under Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault.
The Wolf Pack (6-7) hadn't gone scoreless since losing 10-0 to Weber State on Sept. 27, 1980, a span of 329 games the longest current streak in college football and the second longest in history.
It's the first time Nevada was shut out since moving to Division I-A in 1992.
"It's certainly a compliment to their defense," Ault said. "They played a great game. At the other end of the spectrum, we played as poorly on offense as we've played in a long time."
It was New Mexico's first bowl victory since beating Western Michigan 28-12 in the 1961 Aviation Bowl at Dayton, Ohio. The Lobos also notched a nine-win season for just the fourth time in school history.
"I'm very proud of our team," Long said. "I thought they were as focused as they've been all year long for any game."
New Mexico's defenders pestered redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick all afternoon and made Nevada's "Pistol" offense look more like a pop-gun.
The Wolf Pack averaged 36.2 points and 488.9 yards during the season. Nevada had logged 23 scoring plays that covered at least 25 yards second only to Oklahoma's 25 big-play TDs.
This time, Nevada had 210 total yards, with only 73 yards rushing. On a chilly day, with the temperature at kickoff 34 degrees, Kaepernick finished 13-of-31 for 137 yards. He had 10 carries for 40 yards rushing.
"Everybody was locked in," linebacker Brett Madsen said. "They have a really explosive offense. The quarterback can really run. We knew we had to contain the quarterback, and he didn't do much with his legs."
Madsen was selected the defensive player of the game after recording two sacks, two tackles for lost yardage and four total tackles. But he agreed the award could have gone to any New Mexico defender.
"I'll tell you the truth. I wasn't expecting it," he said. "There was a lot of guys who could have won it."
Long was surely soaked to the bone after his players doused him with icy water at the 2-minute mark, sending up a spirited cheer from the fans who remained from the crowd of 30,223.
After the final gun, a handful of New Mexico players jumped into the stands in the north end zone, and students swarmed the field to remove the goal post.
Baker, meanwhile, made the most of his chance. He moved into the starting lineup this week when Rodney Ferguson, New Mexico's leading rusher over the past two seasons, was ruled academically ineligible.
"My team believed in me and that was enough," Baker said. "I knew I could get it done."
As for Nevada, it was ugly on nearly every front.
The Wolf Pack blocked two field goals, Sullivan missed another 43-yard try and the Lobos failed to score after having first-and-goal at the 4 late in the third quarter. But Nevada just couldn't take advantage.
"We didn't do a good job with any consistency on the run game or the pass game," Ault said. "Colin Kaepernick didn't have a chance to get into type of rhythm. We just shot ourselves in the foot."
Despite the cool weather, Porterie had no trouble warming up.
He threw a short slant pass on the third play from scrimmage to Marcus Smith, who raced to the end zone for a 66-yard scoring play. Later in the period, Brown got behind the Nevada defense and Porterie found him on a 39-yard TD pass.
"It was a 100 percent effort from everyone out there today," Baker said.