Pack hoops has a easy home schedule

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

This year's Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball home schedule is, well, let's just say that the Globetrotters have a more difficult time with the Washington Generals than the Pack will experience at Lawlor Events Center in 2011-12. The Pack, which will play 17 of its 30 games at home, will have no excuses whatsoever to finish anything less than 18-12. The home schedule includes the likes of Prairie View A&M, Nebraska-Omaha, and two teams (Longwood and Cedarville) that we believe Hickory High beat on its way to the Indiana high school state championship in the movie Hoosiers. Longwood, by the way, is located in Farmville, Virginia. No, we're not making that up.

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Will a victory in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday be considered the greatest in Nevada Wolf Pack football history? Well, not according to the pollsters. The Oregon Ducks are ranked just 13th in the Associated Press poll this week. The Pack beat the fourth-ranked Boise State Broncos last November. But don't believe the rankings. The Ducks just might be the best football team from top to bottom that the Pack has ever played. Certainly no Pack opponent has had more elite athletes. A Pack victory this weekend at Autzen Stadium would have to be considered the greatest triumph in school history for the following reasons: it would have taken place on the road, against a Pac-12 team, against a program that is one year removed from the BCS title game and against a team with a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate running back (LaMichael James).

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How long of a leash will Pack coach Chris Ault give quarterback Tyler Lantrip? Will backup Cody Fajardo, a red shirt freshman who has yet to take a snap in a college football game, see action if Lantrip struggles? Unless Lantrip plays extremely well and leads the Pack to the greatest upset victory in school history, odds are we'll see Fajardo. Back in 2007 the situation was similar when a redshirt freshman named Colin Kaepernick saw his first action late in a 52-10 loss at Nebraska on the road. Just five weeks later Kaepernick was starting and, well, the Pack didn't have any quarterback issues until this weekend.

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The Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers could make Bay Area history this weekend. OK, nobody outside the Bay Area will notice it, but this could be the first year since 2002 that both Bay Area teams win their season opener. Yes, it's been that long. The Niners are 4-4 in season openers since 2002 while the Raiders (cover your eyes Black Hole faithful) are 0-8. But that trend could end this weekend. The Raiders are at Denver, a place they haven't lost since 2007. The Niners host Seattle and they haven't lost to the Seahawks in San Francisco since 2008.

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It is the 60-year anniversary of the New York Giants' incredible run to the National League pennant in 1951. So maybe it is kind of fitting that this year's Giants look hopelessly stuck in second place with about 20 games to go. But unless Bobby Thomson picks up a bat sometime soon, this Giants team looks dead in the water. It looks like the Giants played all of their miracle cards last year. This year's team simply cannot score runs. The Giants have scored 483 runs, the lowest total in the major leagues, over 4,825 at-bats. That's one run every 10 at-bats. Last year's World Series champs scored one run every 7.9 at-bats. The 1951 team scored once every 6.9 at-bats.

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Las Vegas might be the epicenter of the National Basketball Association season this year. With labor problems threatening the season, NBA players are going to gather in Sin City this month starting on Monday for a two-week tournament, complete with a playoff round and championship game. Hug High graduate Armon Johnson, now with the Portland Trail Blazers, is expected to play. Yes, it will be a glorified summer league party without any defense or real coaching but it sure does beat watching Prairie View A&M, Longwood and Cedarville.

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The most important game in the NFL this weekend belongs to the Houston Texans. Their game against the Colts is more important to them than any other game means to any other team in the league this weekend. The Texans simply have to beat the Colts. If the Texans are ever going to pass the Colts in the AFC South and get to the playoffs this is the game they have to win. And win convincingly. The Colts won't have Peyton Manning on Sunday. The Texans cannot afford to lose to a Manning-free Colts team. No excuses.

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