Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 | 10:58 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer, Case Keefer and Taylor Bern butt heads over the necessity of a UNLV victory against UNR and then breakdown the upcoming UFC event in Brazil.
- Brewer: With the exception of football rivalry, UNLV is clearly superior to UNR
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- Mountain Best: Marquee matchup taking place near top of the standings
- Rivalry Weak: UNLV aims to pick up its slack in in-state battle against UNR
- Rebels can’t keep up with high-powered Louisiana Tech in blowout loss
- Mountain Best: Most of the league is chasing this year’s newcomers
- Rebels linebacker: ‘It’s on us’ after Rebels trip themselves up in loss at Utah State
- All UNLV Football Coverage
Go to UNR’s athletics page, click football and then roster and you can’t miss it. Right at the top of the page, front and center in a full team photo, is the heaviest and most expensive rivalry trophy in the country.
The Wolf Pack is as proud of winning the Fremont Cannon as any other achievement. Senior linebacker Albert Rosette said there are just a few stated goals for the season, and “when you see beat UNLV along with conference championships, go to a bowl game and have a winning season, you know it’s a big deal.”
UNR (5-1, 2-0) is in position to do all of those things this year. Barring an epic collapse, the Wolf Pack will win more than they lose and thus punch a ticket to a bowl game. And they’re currently atop the Mountain West standings after surviving last week at home, 35-28 in overtime against Wyoming.
That just leaves Saturday’s game at Sam Boyd Stadium, which will air locally at noon on Cox Cable channels 96 and HD 1096.
UNR will bring down the cannon, along with some extra police officers to watch over Wolf Pack tailgates, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. Both sides are preparing for a battle that hopefully stays on the field, though they’re prepared for it to spill over into the stands before, during or after the game.
For UNLV (1-5, 1-0), the cannon has been like a relative you see only once a year, maybe at Thanksgiving or Christmas. The Rebels would like to make more time to get together throughout the year, but they haven’t taken the necessary steps to make that happen. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck is trying to change that this week, emphasizing that his guys should be “hyper-focused” on small things and perfecting their technique during rivalry week.
“They should. Whether they do or not, I suppose, is a good indicator,” Hauck said.
Up in Reno, the Wolf Pack have had a chance to see the cannon every day for the last seven years. That feeling is extra sweet when you’ve been on both sides of this rivalry, like UNR senior kicker Allen Hardison.
Hardison played football and soccer for two years at UNLV until Hauck came in and gave a scholarship to another kicker. Hardison said he didn’t take that lightly, so he transferred up north where he’s five-of-six on field goals this season with a long of 41 yards.
“I think down there Bobby Hauck is trying to change the culture with the cannon, but up here we’ve had the cannon forever,” Hardison said. “Coach Ault knows the process with that and how to keep it blue.”
Another UNR player said no matter what time of year it is, whenever someone around town asks him how things are going they almost always follow it up with the same thought: Just make sure you beat UNLV.
That task would likely be easier for the Wolf Pack if they had starting quarterback Cody Fajardo, whose back issues will make him a game-time decision, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Hauck said the Rebels are preparing as if Fajardo will play, and even if he doesn’t, backup Devin Combs looked capable in leading UNR from behind for a victory last week.
At this point, most of the work is done. The Rebels are either ready to take back the cannon or they’re not.
“If they aren’t, we’ve got the wrong guys,” Hauck said.