Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PWtW Week 5 Preview

"The general fact is that the most effective way of utilizing human energy is through an organized rivalry, which by specialization and social control is, at the same time, organized cooperation."
~Charles Horton Cooley

Unless you've experienced a few of the games firsthand, it's not easy to describe what the Battle for Nevada -- or any other college football rivalry -- is like. But considering that Professor Cooley taught at the University of Michigan, I'll gladly defer to his expertise on this subject.

So holster your water bottles (or "projectiles" if you're a Pack fan), partake in some senseless destruction (or "celebrate" if you're a Rebel fan) and place your bets to cover that spread ("easy money" to everyone) -- this is Rivalry Week.

NSU Rebels

If rivalries are a form of organized cooperation, then someone needs to pass the message on to the Rebels at some point. "Cooperation" means "an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit," not "sucking donkey balls all the time and pretending you don't care about it at the expense of your peer program to the north." This is why the game is mandated by the state to be played every year: it's good for both programs and universities. Yet Rebel fans are always quick to (correctly) point out that Pack fans take the rivalry more seriously. That's still not how it works, folks! It takes two competitive programs to allow a rivalry to fully benefit everyone involved, and making excuses doesn't help your favorite team in any way. If a rising tide raises all boats, you can't just cover up your own suckiness by claiming you're actually a submarine.

But to be fair, if your favorite team was as bad as the Rebels, how much patience would you have in waiting for them to get better? Statistically, there is no comparison this year: the Pack excels on offense (4th in total scoring, 3rd in total offensive yards and tied for 2nd in total first downs) while the Rebels don't (84th, 94th and tied for 97th in those respective categories). And if you're a believer in history, Kaep can likely expect another performance similar to his previous two against NSU, barring the sudden appearance of a robot sent from the future to destroy him.

However, the Rebel defense does offer up a couple of surprises when pouring over the usual kinds of stats. True, their scoring defense still hasn't been good (92nd, compared to Nevada's 38th), but their ability to defend the pass and total defense (57th an 66th, respectively) are uncharacteristically adequate (and ranked ahead of Nevada, at least). This is in spite of playing two nationally ranked opponents in their first four games, so a little credit might be in order for them.

But just like beating New Mexico last week, these rankings are ultimately false hope for what's still a sub-par unit overall. In their first four outings, the Rebels have surrendered totals of 263 rushing yards and 178 passing yards in the first quarter, and considering Nevada's penchant for fast starts and the fact that they still have yet to trail at all in any game this year, this bodes very ominously for NSU. Simply put, barring a few miraculous stops or a team-wide bout of food poisoning that forces Nevada to play its second string, this game should be over before it really begins at all.

Best-Case Scenario

The home team falls behind early, and because of this the crowd can't be brought to bear and the Rebels are helpless to stop the Pistol offense the rest of the night. Everyone gets involved in a resounding win, from the running backs to the tight ends to the defensive backs, linebackers and everyone in between. Turnovers are forced, Rebel scoring drives are halted quickly and the offense has no trouble moving the ball from wherever it takes over on the field. The most serious question Pack fans ask afterward is whether Kaep should've stayed in the game long enough to pad his stats for a Heisman campaign.

Worst-Case Scenario

Bobby Hauck turns out to be the second coming of Urban Meyer, and whips out a slew of surprises he's been keeping under wraps for his first Battle for Nevada rodeo. Chuck Norris takes over at defensive end, Wolverine is put in at linebacker and Chewbacca tries his hand at nose tackle. Just for good measure, that Terminator from before shows up, too. The no-longer-mythical gang succeeds in doing what nobody else has done: knock Kaep on his ass and out of the game. They proceed to run roughshod over the now-helpless visiting Wolf Pack and take back the Fremont Cannon, after which a meteorite will strike the Earth and the End Times will officially commence.

But in all seriousness, knowing what transpired over the summer and the role that UNLV played in helping to bring Nevada into the Mountain West, keep it all in mind if you're attending Saturday's game. Be proud of how the Pack has played so far -- and will likely continue to play -- but remember what their future holds and some of the people that we as fans should thank for it. If and when (OK, "when") they win on Saturday, you can be a little bit of an asshole. Just don't overdo it.

Finally, I've neglected to mention that I've been using a fantastic website called for the statistics I've cited in my entries. It's a truly valuable resource, and one I gladly recommend to anyone with the time to peruse its weekly updates.

1 comment:

Patrick H said...

IMHO UNLV was active in bringing Nevada into the MWC only because they worried that the alternative was UNLV having to move back to the WAC. It was a purely selfish maneuver, therefore deserving of no special consideration.

Nice write up!