Evaluating Nevada’s come-from-ahead defeat | NevadaAppeal.com

Evaluating Nevada’s come-from-ahead defeat

by Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Still don’t think it was a good idea for Greg Oden to leave Ohio State early? If you are assured of getting big money, it is always the right decision for a college athlete to leave school and go pro. Oden, the modern day version of Bill Walton and Sam Bowie when it comes to injury-riddled Trail Blazers centers, would now be facing not only a sophomore year sitting on the bench in a Buckeye warm-up but most likely a junior year at Ohio State if he didn’t leave school after his freshman year. He’s now going to miss the bulk of his rookie year with the Blazers with a knee injury. But, hey, at least he’ll do it as a millionaire.

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You know Seattle Sonics fans are smiling right now with a healthy Kevin Durant about to begin his first NBA season in a couple months. You know, some franchises are just jinxed. A little more than two decades ago, the Blazers picked Bowie and Bowie never was healthy. The Chicago Bulls took Michael Jordan with the next pick and, well, they’ve been sending the Blazers a Christmas card every year since. The Blazers can now expect a card from the Sonics.

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There is so much to like and so much to worry about after the Wolf Pack football team’s come-from-ahead loss to Northwestern last Saturday. First the good news. Quarterback Nick Graziano and running back Luke Lippincott. A week ago we were a little concerned about the Pack offense. Not so much anymore. Graziano and Lippincott brought back flashes of John Dutton and Chris Lemon. The bad news? The Pack has the 112th worst defense in the nation, allowing more than 500 yards and 44 points a game. We can excuse the Nebraska mess. But that shouldn’t have happened against Northwestern, especially not in the fourth quarter and especially with the Wildcats’ best player, running back Tyrell Sutton, limited to three carries in the entire game.

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The Wolf Pack football team simply let one slip through its fingers last week. When you have the lead and the football in the final two minutes, you have to seal the deal. OK, enough cliches. But that was definitely a cliche loss. The Pack dominated Northwestern in most every category with a dozen more first downs, nine more minutes in time of possession and over 100 more yards of offense. But all is not lost. Colt Brennan doesn’t come to town for another two months. There is still time to fix things.

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Brennan, the Hawaii quarterback, deserves the Heisman Trophy already. Of course, he won’t win it because he plays the bulk of his games while the majority of the Heisman voters are asleep. But if you put Brennan anywhere east of the Mississippi, ESPN would already have a Brennan Watch segment on SportsCenter every night.

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Are you worried about Nicholls State pulling off an Appalachian State this Saturday at Mackay Stadium? Well, don’t worry. Nicholls State is not Appalachian State. The Pack has won 10 of its last 11 at home. Also, let’s just say that it is not a coincidence that the Pack scheduled Nicholls State for the home opener. And, by the way, if Nicholls State should happen to win, nobody will call it the greatest upset in sports history. Feel better?

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What’s in a name? Well, has anybody noticed that the Wolf Pack is going to start the year against four schools whose names all begin with the letter N? Nebraska, Northwestern, Nicholls State and Nevada-Las Vegas. Too bad it didn’t add the easiest N in the country – Notre Dame. If the Pack loses to Nicholls State, it might want to try a different letter to open the year next year. Just a suggestion.

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Boise State loses one game, to a good Washington team, and it falls completely out of the Top 25. It goes from being the Cinderella darlings of the entire nation after its amazing bowl game victory to falling out of sight after just one loss. Such is the life of a Western Athletic Conference powerhouse.

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Someone named Kellen Clemens is going to start for the New York Jets this weekend at quarterback against the Baltimore Ravens. Here’s guessing that Clemens was not drafted in any of the three trillion fantasy football leagues before the start of the season. Roger Clemens was probably picked more often in fantasy football than Kellen Clemens.

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By the way, the Ravens will likely give up less points than the Baltimore Orioles will allow runs on Sunday. Have you seen that Orioles’ pitching staff the last month or so? It should give Ray Lewis a start.

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The San Diego Chargers called Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman a mental midget and said Bears running back Cedric Benson was soft this week after they beat the Bears 14-3. Normally, I’d request the Chargers to keep their trash-talking mouths shut. But I’m a Bears fan. And the truth hurts.

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That Nike commercial, with Chargers’ linebacker Shawn Merriman and St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson, bouncing off people in the rain, snow, wind and sunshine, is the best commercial on television right now. After watching that commercial you just want to run through your garage door to go get the mail.

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Just when you think sports is important and meaningful, something like Kevin Everett’s injury hits you right in the gut. NFL players deserve every penny they can get.

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Does it really matter who wins the National League Central? Well, yes. The New York Mets always choke in the playoffs, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies are, well, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies. Don’t be surprised to have another 83-win team representing the N.L. in the World Series this year.

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How did baseball scouts and recruiters find pitchers in the old days without radar guns? Just asking. Maybe they just signed guys with the best command, who threw strikes and got guys out. Imagine that. The radar gun is the worst thing to happen to pitching in the history of the game.