Tag Archive: Blue Friday


I remember being clearly excited for one game when I came to the University of Nevada in 2008. No, it wasn’t UNLV. It was Boise State. The Wolf Pack and Broncos face off (maybe for the last time) tomorrow and I couldn’t be more pumped. This is a real college football rivalry, one that I’ve had the pleasure to not only watch, but cover as well.

What makes this game special? Sure, beating UNLV is fun, but frankly, their fans don’t care. They accept their bad. Not BSU fans. They think their team is a cut above everyone else. And when they fall, oh man, it is fun to watch. Each year prior to last season’s meeting, the game almost had the same script. Broncos jump out early. Nevada rallies in the second half. It then became a thrilling question of whether the Broncos could hold on or if the Wolf Pack could mount the comeback. The game’s lost a little luster. Kellen Moore and Colin Kaepernick are gone. No highly ranked teams. But the game still has a lot of meaning. How sweet it would be to shut the Broncos fans up. Let’s face it, Broncos fans don’t like us. And we don’t like them. When we face each other, especially with how well Boise’s fans travel, it’s the quintessential college football atmosphere. This is why I was excited for college athletics. Games like these are the ones we can tell our children about.

When I covered the 2010 football season, this game was the only one I wished I could cheer. Inside, I was screaming. I wished I could yell in anger as BSU set up what appeared to be the game-winning field goal. Then sat in shock as Kyle Brotzman missed not one, but two field goals. Then of course, there’s the satisfaction in seeing all the BSU fans walking away in disappointment. All the while I wanted to jump, scream and shout. Instead, I sat as calmly and collected as I could be. That’s just it though. It was then I realized, if the Wolf Pack only wins one game a season, I want that win to be against Boise. Who cares about UNLV? Their fans don’t care as much about the game as we do. BSU fans care. And they care a lot. That’s why this game is special. That’s why this game was at the end of the season, not UNLV like most other in-state rivalries. That’s what we’ll miss the most if BSU doesn’t come back.

For the record, here’s my prediction.

Nevada: 37

Boise: 31

Go Pack.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Yep, it’s that weekend. Nevada takes on that school down south for the Fremont Cannon.

First, let me start with a few tidbits:

There’s going to be a lot of trash talk between THE University of Nevada and that school down south. Here’s some food for thought.

1. Chris Ault: 231 career wins
2. Total wins in UNLV PROGRAM history: 224

3. Nevada wins, it’s bowl eligible.
4. UNLV must win five of its last seven to get to six wins.

5. Nevada named a tier 1 university…again.
6. UNLV…not so much.

*By the way that’s academics, not athletics.

7. The last time the cannon wasn’t blue: George Bush and John Kerry were running for President. I was a freshman in high school.

8. Chris Ault took Nevada from Div. II to FCS.

9. Bobby Hauck is winless against Div. II teams since becoming coach at UNLV.

10. UNLV hasn’t had a coach with a winning overall or conference record since Harvey Hyde, who coached from 1982-85.

Now, on to the actual game. Bobby Hauck has UNLV playing better in recent years. That’s not surprising since the Rebels have been one of the worst teams in college football, no matter how you look at it. Statistically, records, margin of losses, you name it, UNLV was at or near the bottom. This year they’ve been competitive, though when they faced some tougher opponents in Louisiana Tech and Utah State, they couldn’t keep up. QB Nick Sherry must eliminate the mistakes. That’s for sure. UNLV’s defense has played pretty well, but La. Tech and USU showed good offense can wear them down and with the Wolf Pack’s attack, led by Cody Fajardo, Stefphon Jefferson and Brandon Wimberly, this should be no different. After the Wyoming scare, Chris Ault will have this team ready. Defensively, expect Nevada to key in on Tim Cornett. Sherry has a completion percentage of 55.4 percent and 10 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. I’d take my chances with Sherry trying to beat the Pack.

Prediction: It might be close early, but like previous years, Nevada pulls away. Wolf Pack wins 40-17.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The Wolf Pack looks to keep rolling against Wyoming. Is this a trap game?

Wyoming must be glad its conference season for them. After a disastrous 1-3 start, the Cowboys will look to upset Nevada. To do that, QB Brett Smith must play well. He’s thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. But, his four interceptions (or one per game) are worrisome. He can’t turn the ball over against the Pack. Wyoming just doesn’t have the offense to get into a shootout. Receiver Chris McNeill, who had six catches for 219 yards against Idaho, is the target the Pack must key in on in the secondary.

The good news for Nevada is QB Cody Fajardo and running back Stefphon Jefferson should have an absolute field day. Wyoming’s rush defense isn’t just bad. It’s down right pathetic. The Cowboys are giving up a whopping 253 rush yards per game. Not only should the Wolf Pack dominate time of possession, Fajardo should rarely need to pass in critical situations.

Prediction: This one will be a blowout. Nevada wins 48-20.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

After an impressive offensive performance against Hawaii, the Wolf Pack faces Texas State. Will there be a letdown?

One thing is for sure. There’s going to be a lot of Pistol offense run Saturday. Of course, head coach Chris Ault invented the offense, but Texas State has also implemented the Pistol. But, they also like to run it with multiple backs. Texas State is going to go as far as quarterback Shaun Rutherford can take the team. Although the offense does switch up QBs, Rutherford is a solid passer, (4 TDs, one interception) and leads the team in rushing. He might not be as big of a dual threat as Cody Fajardo, but he’s still dangerous. Texas State does have a win against Houston, but that is not nearly as impressive as it first seemed, since Houston is winless on the season.

Perhaps more telling is Texas State’s 58-10 loss to Texas Tech. They will have trouble stopping Nevada’s run game after “The Union” showed it can still push defensive lines around. For the Wolf Pack’s defense, they’ll have a trio of running backs to deal with themselves in┬áMarcus Curry, Tim Gay and Terrence Franks. While no one back has established themselves yet, the trio have combined for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns.

Prediction: It might be easy to say Nevada will have a letdown, but I just don’t see it. The Wolf Pack will roll 42-20.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

Nevada vs. Hawaii preview

The last time the Wolf Pack travelled to Hawaii, it cost head coach Chris Ault, former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and company an undefeated season. Can this year’s team break the “Island Curse”?

One thing is for sure. Nevada’s defense, which gave up 34 points to Northwestern State, will have its hands full with the Warriors’ pro style offense. Head coach Norm Chow looks for junior QB Sean Schroeder and running back Joey Isofe to make this offense go. This isn’t the pass happy offense opponents are used to seeing, but against a Wolf Pack defense that has struggled to stop opponents over the last two games, will be just as dangerous.

Nevada’s offensive line may have its toughest test of the season so far facing Hawaii’s Art Laurel and Beau Yap. Both have shown a knack for disrupting backfields. Hawaii has actually done OK at stopping the run game, but will face a tough challenge with Cody Fajardo and Stefphon Jefferson.

The “X” factor of the game could be all mental for Nevada. The travel, the time change, the distractions, facing a difficult opponent, everything combines to make a trip to Hawaii very dangerous. And, one that I’m not sure the Wolf Pack can overcome, especially with another lackluster performance from the defense. The defense ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in many categories, especially concerning defending the pass game (Here we go again). That has to change.

Prediction: I think Nevada wins, but it’s going to be a barn burner. Wolf Pack wins 40-34.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

Chris Ault, Cody Fajardo and company try to avoid a second-straight loss when Nevada faces Northwestern State. Do Pack fans have anything to worry about?

The Demons are coming off a 31-24 victory against Arkansas-Monticello. But, against Texas Tech, Northwestern State lost 44-6.

Look for Stefphon Jefferson to have a big game as NWS is giving up 160 rush yards a game, but Fajardo and receiver Brandon Wimberly should have a big game as well. In total, opponents average 395.5 yards of total offense against the Demons. And, against an offense they’ll be unfamiliar with, that will be a disaster.

That being said, UAM does have four interceptions on the season, including two by Cotez Paige, so Fajardo can’t be careless.

The Wolf Pack defense should have a strong outing, much like most of its game against South Florida. Quarterback Brad Henderson has yet to throw for a touchdown, meaning Nevada’s secondary should be able to shut down the pass game.

All in all, this should be an easy win before a showdown with Hawaii.

Prediction: Nevada wins 45-13.

CBS Sports is reporting that sources tell them the MWC/CUSA merger is off. That actually makes sense. One of the biggest reasons for this merger was so that the champion could get an AQ bid to the BCS. Since that is going away for a four-team play off in a few years, there’s much less incentive. Also, the merger was before even more shuffling took place. What remains to be seen is what happens to Boise State and San Diego State. For the Wolf Pack, what the Broncos do is much more important than what the Aztecs do. Boise’s plans are to go to the Big East. But the WAC, where its others sports would remain is, shall we say, struggling. I know the Big West extended membership, but there’s no guarantee it’ll get enough votes to pass, even if Boise decides thats the best option.

Here’s hoping they stay in Boise. Love to see Chris Ault, Cody Fajardo and the rest of the Pack get more cracks at the Donkeys.

Speaking of football, the more I think about it, the more excited I’m getting to see how Ault and new offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich (Formally from Hawaii). I’d love to see the mix between the run and the pass. And, with Brandon Wimberly returning, Fajardo’s going to have some weapons to throw to. Big question will be the defense. It lost so much and the spring game wasn’t all that encouraging. But, we’ll see.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The good news for the Wolf Pack football team is it’s making at least six television appearances. The six games currently scheduled to be aired on CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network or ESPN networks are: vs. South Florida, at Hawaii, vs. San Diego State, at Air Force, vs. Fresno State and vs. Boise State.

This is a big year for Nevada football once again. Quarterback Cody Fajardo should be one of the top QBs in the Mountain West Conference now that he has a year of experience under his belt. Like 2010, this season’s schedule lends itself to gaining some national attention if it can play well. The Wolf Pack opens its season at Cal, a chance to make a statement right off the bat. Head coach Chris Ault has the chance to make an impact once again. I realize this is a team that is retooling in a lot of positions. But, if Nevada can have a one or two-loss season that would put them back on the map. And Fajardo would be returning for at least another year and probably two. This is a chance for the Wolf Pack to prove itself in front of national audiences once again. Hopefully the team’s up to the task.

As a side note, the Boise State game has been moved to Dec. 1. The last game of the season. You don’t think Boise’s the more important rivalry than UNLV?

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

Yes, news that the BCS is close to adding a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 is great news. Here’s a link to Pat Forde’s article. For the record Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson said there was unanimous support for the playoff (not that the WAC’s going to have a team in that playoff anytime soon).

But everyone from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who has been a driving force behind this to BCS executive director Bill Hancock has called this a “seismic” change. One of the best regular season’s in sports will remain tension filled. There will still be big games. Rivalries may take on more importance. And the worst postseason in sports? That just took a huge step in the right direction. There’s still a lot to sort out, mainly, how the four teams will be chosen. And there’s always going to be controversy about it. The fifth team is always going to complain, but we can deal with that. What matters is for the first time, the college football championship will be decided on the field and not limited because of a broken system.

The question is how does this affect head coach Chris Ault and the Wolf Pack? Probably not much. Even in the team’s 13-1 dream season with Virgil Green, Colin Kaepernick and Dontay Moch, it likely wouldn’t have been chosen for the playoff. But, the potential effects for the MWC-CUSA merger could be big. Mainly, there’s a chance this means San Diego State and Boise State stays. For Wolf Pack fans, the Broncos staying would be huge. I understand everyone has basically said screw em. But, like I’ve been saying, Boise is the key football rivalry for the Wolf Pack. Kaep and Kellen Moore? The 69-67 four-overtime thriller? The Miracle at Mackay? Face it. The Wolf Pack-Broncos is the exciting rivalry that Nevada-UNLV isn’t.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Next Saturday (April 21) the annual Silver and Blue Spring game will take place at Mackay Stadium. Yes, this will be fans first real shot at seeing the 2012 Wolf Pack as it enters the Mountain West Conference for the first time. It’ll be most people’s first opportunity to see how the team answers some of its biggest questions. Here’s a couple that I’ll be paying specific attention to.

1. How will quarterback Cody Fajardo progress? We all know that Fajardo is going to be key for the offense’s success. But, will he have a Colin Kaepernick like progression?

2. Skill players: Rishard Matthews, Mike Ball, Brett Roy, James Michael-Johnson and others…they’re all gone. Offensively and defensively speaking, the Wolf Pack faces a lot of unknowns on who will have to step up to replace them. Whether it’s linebacker, defensive line, running back or wide receiver, this is the chance for some players to make an early impression.

It’s only the spring game, but I attended every one while I was in college. It’s fun, laid back, there’s a chance to meet the players and coaches after. Fun atmosphere and an early look at the Wolf Pack. The scrimmage is at 10 a.m. so it’s not like most people should have big parties or anything to go to. Do yourself a favor, go enjoy the outdoors, support Nevada and have some fun.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.