It's a big game for Nevada's football program, probably one of the biggest in school history.
Nevada enters today's game against Fresno State with a 7-3 record and a chance to share the Western Athletic Conference title with a victory. It's certainly been a solid season, one worthy of bowl recognition.
The only thing missing from Nevada's resume this year is a marquee victory. Quite simply, Nevada has beaten the teams everybody expected them to beat at the start of the year, and has lost to teams people expected them to lose against. A win over Fresno State would certainly change that, and at the same time give the Pack a win it can hang their hat on.
In the previous era, Nevada teams often lost to lower caliber teams because the Pack were so inconsistent. That hasn't been the case this year.
When Chris Ault came back to the program in 2004, he wanted to start building a foundation for the future. He wanted Nevada to be a better home team, and defend Mackay Stadium. Heading into today's game, the Pack are a respectable 9-2 in that span.
While Nevada appears a logical candidate for the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on Dec. 24, Ault looks at the big picture. He wants to string together winning seasons, and continue the foundation that he started this year. In fact, he said earlier this year that having a winning season for the first time in many years was more important than a bowl bid.
"Ironically there wasn't a game where we thought we'd finally put it together," Ault said. "The Hawai'i game ... we were coming off the Boise State fiasco (49-14) where we played poorly and had to do some soul searching. That game pulled us together. That might be the game.
"We're still 60 percent freshmen and sophomores, and we still make freshmen and sophomore mistakes."
The chemistry on this team seems stronger than in previous years. This team truly likes each other and supports each other. There aren't factions driving wedges between offensive and defensive players. There isn't the second-guessing of who should be playing ahead of who going on. Don't ever count out the importance of chemistry in any sport.
It's a big day for Nevada football. The athletic department has cut ticket prices, and also is giving away tuition waivers, and other assorted prizes to fans in attendance, all aimed at putting more fannies in the seats.
Fans, for some reason, have stayed away in droves from Mackay Stadium. It's a shame, because the Pack have played well at home this season, save for the season-opening loss against Washington State. Nevada won pivotal games against Hawai'i and Louisiana Tech at Mackay, and it was disheartening to see the empty spaces in the crowd during those two wins. This team deserves better.
Come on Northern Nevada get off your behinds and get over to Mackay Stadium today. Sure, I know the game is on television, but the team can't feel the support over the airwaves. They can, however, feel the electricity a capacity crowd gives off.
Get in the stadium and make some noise. You might be surprised at what a difference it makes.
Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281