STEVE RANSON: Wolf Pack brings heart, soul and guts to San Francisco

A minor earthquake rolled through the hills between San Jose and San Francisco Friday night.

Two days later the first aftershock rattled downtown San Francisco's Union Plaza during a pep rally attended by at least 3,000 Wolf Pack faithful, the university's marching band, cheerleaders, and several members from the team.

The second aftershock happened Sunday night when the Pack shook Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, 20-13.

Nevada fans finally discovered what big-time football means in a big-time city.

This is not Boise. This is not Albuquerque nor Honolulu. This is San Francisco, and Nevada owned AT&T Park and the Eagles by giving its heart to its first bowl win since an overtime thriller in 2005 at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

Supporting the Pack is more than taking a weekend trip to the City. It's more than wearing silver and blue apparel. It's dedication to a program that achieved its greatest success on the gridiron during the 2010 season.

"We paid our dues and worked for everything we've got," said Nevada coach Chris Ault after the game, still drying out from his Gatorade bath.

Enjoy it Pack fans. Savor the band playing in the crisp January air with every beat echoing down the concrete canyons of downtown San Francisco and vibrating off the windows that overlook the tiny plaza.

Give thanks to all those San Francisco residents and merchants who have displayed their support by sticking a thumbs up in approval or shouting "Go Pack." In fact, Nevada's invitation to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park has been a football marriage made in heaven ... or at least near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Boise State playing here. No way. This was a Wolf Pack home game, and the Wolf Pack's heart beat silver and blue.

Kraft Bowl officials applauded Wolf Pack fans for their support, telling Nevadans that their presence at Union Square made this year's pep rally the largest ever for the nine-year bowl game.

Sunday also marked the first time that rain excused itself from the peninsula, allowing the sun to shine on the Pack at the rally and the stars to twinkle over the game. I can hear Tony Bennett crooning his ballad now about his city as a tribute to a gutsy Pack team that refused to lose.

So, Wolf Pack fans ... this weekend has been fantastic in one of the world's greatest cities. More than 27,000 Nevada fans who made the pilgrimage from many communities in northern California will attest to that.

Ault said it best when addressing the screaming fans at Union Square. "We're not the city's, we're not the state's, we are the nation of Nevada."

Spoken like a true ambassador for the Wolf Pack with his heart in the right place.

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