Tag Archive: MWC

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.

We’re one day away from the start of the Wolf Pack’s season. Head coach Chris Ault will lead Nevada against Cal in its season opener, a game that should reveal real quick just where the Wolf Pack’s at. But, the team is a huge underdog. Cal is reopening its stadium, so it will want a good game for fans. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is much more knowledgeable about the Pistol Offense. And with a young, but very talented defense, especially in the front seven, quarterback Cody Fajardo will be tested  early and often. Receiver Brandon Wimberly will be expected to make a big splash in his return to give Fajardo some help, as will Stefphon Jefferson, who is taking over the starting running back role.

The wild card will be Bears’ QB Zach Maynard. He’s been all over the place last season. If he can rein that in, Cal’s offense is very dangerous. Keenan Allen caught 98 passes last season and will be Maynard’s top target this year. By all reports, Allen has great speed and great hands, something Nevada’s secondary, led by Duke Williams and Khalid Wooten. The Wolf Pack’s secondary has five players returning. They’ll need all of that experience to slow this offense down. The front seven is where Nevada’s problems could show. If Cal’s offensive line plays well, the Wolf Pack will be in trouble. The front seven is a big question mark and someone will need to step up.

Mainly, this comes down to a series of unknowns for Nevada. Several players are stepping into big roles and we just don’t know how they’re going to react. Cal will be ready and is a very dangerous opponent.

Nevada wins: If the Wolf Pack plays a near perfect game. Fajardo comes out accurate, the front seven on defense plays better than expected and gets to the QB. This needs to be a complete game, if one side of the ball isn’t up to par, Nevada will struggle.

Cal wins: If the Bears disrupt Nevada’s offense. Cal’s going to score its points, no question about it. The difference will be whether Nevada has the firepower to get into a shootout.

Prediction: If Nevada’s going to win this game, it will be in a close one, 41-38. But, my real prediction is Cal wins 34-24.

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

*This is the start of my look at the 2012 MWC season. A full team-by-team countdown will begin soon. More details will be coming soon. 

With media days done and the football season just around the corner, the Nevada Wolf Pack make the jump to the Mountain West Conference. And, head coach Chris Ault is looking to help lead the team to a successful first season. The preseason polls picked the Wolf Pack to finish second in the conference, behind Boise State. But, don’t be fooled. This is anyone’s game.

Much will depend on how far quarterback Cody Fajardo develops.We all know the Union is going to be solid. And, though the team will now face a new season without the likes of Mike Ball and other former running backs from the past like Vai Taua, Nevada has a few waiting to take up the mantle. Stefphon Jefferson is the one I’d bet on to get most of the carries, but similar to when the Wolf Pack had three rushers run for more than 1,000 yards, don’t be surprised to see Nick Hale and even redshirt freshman Tony Knight get in on the action. The receivers will also be a big unknown, with Brandon Wimberly returning to the field.

But, Fajardo, last year’s WAC Freshman of the Year, must show progress. I need to see Fajardo develop into a true leader, to be able to run this offense with confidence. We know he can run, being the third leading rusher on the team last season. But, despite completing 68 percent of his passes, he had as many interceptions as passing touchdowns (six). Fajardo must take the next step in the passing game. If he can, he could be Colin Kaepernick good.

The defense has a lot of questions as well after losing defensive end Brett Roy, linebackers Brandon Marshall and James-Michael Johnson and cornerback Isaiah Frey. That being said, the defense will likely take a step or two down from last season, but let’s face it, defense hasn’t been the true strength of this team in recent years.

What am I saying? Nevada is full of questions. But, the potential is there for this team to make some very big waves this season. And, the Broncos are replacing tons of talented players, including running back Doug Martin and quarterback Kellen Moore. That means they’re throwing a brand new quarterback into the fire. For the first time in a while, Boise shouldn’t be considered the runaway favorites. Several other teams in the MWC have potential to break out, but have some questions facing them as well. But, expect teams like Fresno State, Hawaii and San Diego State to contend as well. Meaning, the MWC may be split in terms of team quality, but who finishes on top? That’s a crap shoot. A lot of these teams have issues facing them that could derail their seasons. That should mean we’re in for an entertaining season, but one that will be incredibly hard to predict.

Wyoming, New Mexico, UNLV and Colorado State all have serious issues and are unlikely to contend. Air Force just lost so many starters, it’s hard to see them contending.

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

The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that Boise State is indeed leaving for the Big East. Bad news for the MWC and the Wolf Pack. I realize Boise’s fans can be annoying. But losing your greatest rival in college football is never a good thing. Never.

Where does this leave Nevada? Essentially in the WAC 2.0 with a few new teams. This conference isn’t nearly as good as it looked a couple of years ago. No more Utah, BYU, San Diego State, TCU and now Boise State. So, the Wolf Pack gets…Fresno State, UNLV and trading New Mexico State for New Mexico. Oh, and they still have to travel to play Hawaii every other year.

Why focus on just college football? Because if the reason we’re moving is because of football, then we better be making a significant upgrade, which we’re not. Head coach Chris Ault and Nevada has a bright future over the next couple of years with Cody Fajardo under center. Over the past several seasons players like Colin Kaepernick, Rishard Matthews, James-Michael Johnson and Dontay Moch have helped elevate the program. But, it needs to take that next step, much like Utah is trying to do in the Pac-12.

Moving to the MWC was supposed to be a giant leap forward. Instead, it feels like a half a step forward.

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

ESPN is reporting that Boise State will have to stay in the Mountain West Conference. Reports are that a deal could not be reached between the school and the Big West for its sports other than football. The Broncos announced its intentions to join the Big East earlier.

For Wolf Pack fans, this is great news! Our biggest football rival is staying means the end of the college football season each year just got a lot more interesting. Looking forward to more Colin Kaepernick/Kellen Moore type battles and to see Chris Ault and Chris Petersen face off a few more times.

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

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.

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.

You can read an interesting column here. But, if you don’t want to, it basically states that there are four trigger points that could allow Boise State and San Diego State to back out of its deal with the Big East Conference without any financial consequences. Meaning? It’d likely stay in the Mountain West Conference/Conference-USA merger. It cites inadequate leagues for its other sports than football and a lack of a lucrative television deal. The Big East also may lose its automatic qualifying status and a plus-one playoff game seems to be gaining a little momentum.

I would love it if it would happen. I know there’s a lot of harsh feelings towards both. But, mark my words. If Nevada and Boise State could continue its football rivalry it’s a very good thing. It’s the Wolf Pack-Broncos football games people are talking about, not the Nevada-UNLV games. Not to mention the Aztecs staying would greatly strengthen the basketball side of things.

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

With the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA set to form a mega conference the question facing Nevada is simple: is this a good thing?
When the Wolf Pack announced it was joining the MWC, it seemed like a slam dunk. But now? This is essentially the WAC lite, especially with other WAC schools apparently set to join the new conference. Sure, Nevada and UNLV will play each other and it will have conference implications. However, the Wolf Pack is losing its most important rivalry…its football game against Boise State. Make no mistake anyone that’s been to a Nevada-Boise game knows the fans hate each other. It’s the one game Nevada fans look forward to.
This new mega conference will have little impact on the college football world. It will still be on the outside looking in. And both conferences lost many of its strongest programs. What started as a chance to get a big upgrade has turned into something that is slightly better than the WAC but not much else.

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

Not that this is a terrible surprise to anyone, but cbssports.com is reporting that the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA will dissolve and join together to form a new conference starting with the 2013-2014 season.

The new league, which doesn’t have a new name yet, would include MWC members Nevada, UNLV, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, Fresno State, New Mexico and Hawaii (football only) and C-USA members Southern Miss, Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and Tulane.

The move is obviously driven by the fact that both conferences lost arguably its strongest football programs (Boise State, TCU, BYU and Utah from the MWC and South Florida and others from C-USA).

How much does this move help the Wolf Pack? Not a whole lot. The concept is interesting and it would provide the new conference a championship game. However, there’s not a real strong football program in that list. Sure, the Wolf Pack has the potential to build into that. But, everyone else, not exactly the top-tier teams the university thought it’d be getting to play with.

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