FODDER: Nevada needs Boise State rivalry
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . The Nevada Wolf Pack needs Boise State. The Pack needs Boise on its schedule every year the same way Bill Russell needed Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics needed Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Muhammad Ali needed Joe Frazier. Boise State is the Wolf Pack standard. The Broncos are the Wolf Pack’s measuring stick. This Saturday’s game at Mackay Stadium, though, might be the last game between the two rivals for quite some time as Boise is expected to join the Big East Conference next year. Rivalries used to be the heart and soul of college football. But now, with all of the silly conference movement (the Big East will be Boise’s third conference in four years) they don’t matter. College athletic departments don’t even understand their own product. All they know is their own paycheck. And who loses? The fans.•••The Wolf Pack has an excellent chance of upsetting the Broncos on Saturday. Boise is a nine-point favorite and has won 11 of the last 12 games against the Pack. But the last time the Broncos came to Mackay Stadium in 2010 they were nine-point favorites and had won the last 10 games against the Pack. And the Pack won that night and only played well for half the game. This is the Wolf Packs real bowl game, despite that meaningless exhibition on the schedule at New Mexico on Dec. 15. The Boise game is the Wolf Pack’s season. It’s Senior Day. It will be the first huge, loud, passionate crowd at Mackay Stadium since that 2010 Boise game. The Bronco defense has never stopped the Pack’s pistol offense when the Pack had a quarterback who could run. Wolf Pack 38, Boise State 35.•••San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh had no choice but to keep Colin Kaepernick as his starting quarterback. He cannot go back to Alex Smith until Kaepernick fails. If he went to Smith right now and Smith fails, then Smith is forever lost as a starting quarterback. Kaepernick is a young player. He’s expected to fail eventually. No big deal. But that also might never happen and Kaepernick could be the starter in San Francisco for the next 15 years. And then everyone is a winner in the Bay area except for Smith. Again, no big deal. Kaepernick is thunder and lightning while Smith is a gentle spring shower. You have to stick with the thunder and lightning until the storm passes.•••Johnny Manziel is the obvious choice for the Heisman trophy. The Texas A&M quarterback is the best thing to happen to college football since cheerleaders. Manziel has passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and run for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns. He beat Alabama. He’s just 6-foot-1. He’s just a freshman. When Chris Ault pictures the perfect pistol quarterback in his dreams, it’s Manziel. College football is nothing more than a money grab these days. It’s about as wholesome as a Mike Tyson tattoo on the face. But Manziel is refreshing. He’s why some of us still watch the sport..