unlv football:

A look at the Fremont Cannon rivalry game

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Sam Morris

UNLV fans cheer as their team takes the field for a game against UNR Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, at Mackay Stadium in Reno. UNR won the game 37-0 to extend its winning streak over UNLV to seven.

Here’s some background information to get you ready for Saturday’s Fremont Cannon rivalry game between UNLV and UNR.

UNLV will look to snap a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry game that dates back to the late-1960s — the winner gets possession of the 545-pound cannon and paints the carriage its colors.

Kickoff is at 12:07 p.m. at Sam Boyd Stadium.

    • The Fremont Cannon sat in the corner of Sam Boyd Stadium on Oct. 2, 2010, as UNR defeated UNLV 44-26 and kept the trophy. The teams get together Saturday at noon in Las Vegas with the Rebels trying to snap a seven-game losing streak in the series.

      How it all began

      Bill Ireland, UNLV’s first football coach and a UNR alum, came up with the idea of the two teams playing for a replica of Fremont’s cannon before their first meeting in 1969. UNR won the initial meeting, prevailing 30-28 on Thanksgiving Day, but didn’t get the cannon because it hadn’t been built. Ireland’s idea came to fruition when the Kennecott Copper Corp. reconstructed the cannon and donated it to the rivalry for the 1970 game, which UNLV won, 42-30. The cannon, which weighs 545 pounds and cost $10,000 to build, is a replica of the cannon explorer John C. Fremont had during his expedition to Nevada in the mid-19th century. The trophy is believed to be the heaviest in college football. The winning school paints the cannon’s carriage its color — red for UNLV, or like the past seven years, UNR blue.

    • Series has belonged to UNR

      Fans of the scarlet and gray haven’t had much to rejoice about in the rivalry series, with in-state rival UNR winning a record seven straight meetings. Adding insult to injury is the fact most of the wins have come in blowout fashion. UNR leads the series 22-15 — even though it feels much worse. The games aren’t even close with UNLV losing by a combined 90 points the past three years, including 37-0 last year when Rebel quarterback Caleb Herring completed just one pass.

    • It’s a league game this year

      With UNR joining UNLV’s Mountain West Conference this fall, this is just the fifth time the teams have met as members of the same conference. Remember, UNR was a Division I-AA school until the early 1990s. This is the Wolf Pack’s first year in the Mountain West Conference, leaving the Western Athletic Conference to join UNLV’s league. So, in basketball, the teams will now place twice each season.

    • UNLV students pull the Fremont Cannon onto the field at UNR on Oct. 28, 1995, after UNR regained possession of the cannon in a 55-32 win. Pre- and post-game incidents marred the contest.

      Rebels keep cannon without winning

      In the 1980s, the cannon spent seven of the 10 years in Las Vegas. But that was when the rivalry wasn’t played annually, meaning UNLV kept the cannon for five consecutive years with just one victory. Now in its 37th year, the Fremont Cannon game has been played 23 straight seasons dating back to 1989.

    • UNLV players roll out the refurbished Fremont Cannon two weeks after beating UNR in 2000. Fans broke the cannon in the post-game celebration that year, but the UNLV athletics department repaired it in time for the Rebels next home game against Wyoming.

      Hold on tight

      UNLV had to spend $1,500 on the cannon at one point, but it was money well spent. After beating UNR in the 2000 game, UNLV students stormed the field at Sam Boyd Stadium and starting spray-painting the cannon Rebel red in celebration. The celebration included players and students lifting the cannon above their head — believed to be the first-and-only time the cannon was lifted. That is because, of course, it dropped and broke into pieces. The incident prompted UNR coach Chris Ault to criticize UNLV for not respecting the rivalry. Two weeks later, UNLV paid to have the cannon repaired. Later that year, they beat Arkansas to win the Las Vegas Bowl — the last time UNLV appeared in a bowl game.

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    1. Look who got the last laugh on UNLV!

      Mike Sanford is entering his first season as Utah State's assistant head coach after officially joining the staff in March, 2012. At USU, Sanford will coach the Aggies' running backs and tight ends.

      Sanford and Andersen will be reuniting after being together on the University of Utah staff in 2004, when Andersen was the Utes' defensive line coach and Sanford was offensive coordinator and running backs coach.

    2. The noon start is pretty stupid for UNLV fans. I would understand if it was for a regional TV slot or something of that nature....where there was a decent payoff...but not for a rinky dink statewide audience. If you have kids & they play any sport there is no way you can go. I know at least 10 people who would normally go but cant because of the start time. You would think we would want our biggest crowd possible there for this game. Wish I could go.