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September 7, 2012
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SANTORO: Don't get excited about Cal win


Sports fodder for a Friday morning ... Relax, Nevada Wolf Pack football fans. Enjoy the victory over Cal, get excited about the rest of the season and plan the next three months around Pack football games. But, please, keep it all in perspective. Cal is merely a mediocre football team on its best days. This wasn't little old Nevada from the Big Sky Conference going to Berkeley and beating the mighty Golden Bears of the Pac-8, Pac-10 or Pac-12 or whatever they are calling their conference these days. It was a great way to open a season but that's all it was. Cal might be no better than the fourth or fifth best team the Pack has to face this year.

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If there is a team that learned how to keep a thrilling season-opening victory in perspective, it is the South Florida Bulls, the team that will visit Mackay Stadium on Saturday. The Bulls went to Notre Dame last year to open the year and stunned the Irish 23-20. They even won their first four games. But then they choked away every close game the rest of the year and finished 5-7. Sometimes a big win says more about the team you beat than it does about yourself.

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South Florida will have to travel over 2,000 miles to come to Reno this weekend. They will be playing a game at over 4,000 feet altitude, a height they normally only experience while watching an in-flight movie. They've only seen the Pack's pistol offense on film. The Bulls aren't even battled tested yet, choosing instead to open their season a week ago with a glorified scrimmage against Chattanooga. And they haven't packed their bags for a trip this far since they went to San Diego State in 1999. It all adds up to a 2-0 start to the season for the Wolf Pack. Pack 35, South Florida 17.

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This is the year the San Francisco 49ers have been waiting for since the beginning of Bill Clinton's second term. But the 49ers haven't gotten a ton of respect from the national media this off-season. Most experts are still picking the Green Bay Packers to go to the Super Bowl from the NFC. But the 49ers have the better run game and the better defense. Aaron Rodgers and Lambeau Field might be enough for the Packers to beat the Niners this weekend but a NFL season - like the Wolf Pack season - is longer than just one game. We still like the 49ers to go to Wisconsin and win, 21-17.

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Predicting in September who will be in the Super Bowl in February is sort of like predicting which overpaid, broken down, former All Star the Los Angeles Dodgers will buy next. But here goes. The 49ers will beat the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game, the Baltimore Ravens will beat the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game and the 49ers will beat the Ravens in the Super Bowl. What? You were expecting another Packers-Patriots Super Bowl prediction?

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What did we learn about Mountain West football after one week? Well, it wasn't anything we didn't already know. We learned that Boise State doesn't have the same offense without Kellen Moore and Doug Martin, we learned that Air Force, Fresno State and New Mexico aren't at all embarrassed for scheduling the likes of Idaho State, Weber State and Southern and we learned that UNLV is still trying to replace Randall Cunningham at quarterback. If it wasn't for the Wolf Pack and Colorado State (which beat Colorado), the Mountain West would have already reminded their fans that basketball season is just two months away.

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One of these days the national media will realize that Bruce Bochy is the best manager in baseball. The San Francisco Giants have no right to be in first place with a comfortable lead right now. Tim Lincecum has been horrible all year, the closer situation has been up in the air all year, Melky Cabrera got caught juicing, Aubrey Huff has vanished, Pablo Sandoval is always getting hurt, there's been a Fresno-to-San Francisco commuter train filled with middle infielders all year long and the Dodgers have purchased a fantasy team. The one constant in San Francisco is Bochy.



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The Nevada Appeal Updated Sep 7, 2012 01:16AM Published Sep 7, 2012 01:14AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.