by Joe Santoro

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November 16, 2012
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Crunch time for Wolf Pack

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

The Nevada Wolf Pack football team simply has to win at least one of its next three games. The Pack has to beat New Mexico on Saturday or Boise State on Dec. 1 to avoid its worst finish to a regular season in school history. Losses in all three games would give the Pack a stunning six-game losing streak heading into the 2013 season. That's never happened before in over a century of Wolf Pack football. The most losses in a row the Pack has had to close out a season was five in 1934 and 1957. Both of those coaches (Brick Mitchell in 1934 and Gordon McEachron in 1957) lasted just one more season in their job before they were removed. Jerry Scattini lost his last four games in 1975 and was replaced by Chris Ault the following year.

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This Pack team, though, shouldn't be allowed to put together the biggest collapse in school history. If the Pack loses at New Mexico and at home to Boise on Dec. 1 to close out the regular season the university should do the honorable thing and decline any bowl invitation that might come their way. Do you really want to take a 6-6 team that is riding a five-game losing streak into a bowl game? Let's not forget that one of the victories this year came against a Division I-AA school (Northwestern State) and another came against a school that is in its first year in a Division I-A conference (Texas State). That means the Pack would be 4-6 against schools that were in a I-A conference just last year. The Pack would become the shining example of why there are far too many bowls.

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We will, however, likely not find out whether or not the Pack would have the nerve to take a 6-6 team that owns a five-game losing streak into a bowl game. Odds are the Pack will go into Albuquerque this Saturday and beat New Mexico. New Mexico is improved under head coach Bob Davie but they are still one of the worst teams in the nation. They have no defense and their offense is out of a 1942 high school playbook. You could argue that a loss at New Mexico this week would be the worst loss the Pack has suffered since joining Division I-A in 1992. It's certainly in the top five. We will find out on Saturday if this team is still listening to its coaching staff.

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The Wolf Pack men's basketball team is also facing a crucial weekend. The Pack, by their own admission, didn't play hard in a season-opening loss at UC Irvine last Saturday. And now they get three games in three days at home starting on Friday against Cal State Fullerton, Green Bay and Southern Utah. Two victories this weekend are mandatory or else northern Nevada will stay away from Lawlor Events Center until the Mountain West games begin in January. The biggest thing this Pack team must realize is that the 28-win season of 2011-12 is long gone. It was the perfect storm and was achieved against a very forgiving schedule. The Mountain West won't be as forgiving. Not playing hard for as much as one second of any game the rest of the year is inexcusable for this team.

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Colin Kaepernick is ready to become a starting quarterback in the NFL. The ex-Pack quarterback was 11-of-17 for 117 yards and ran for 66 yards and a touchdown in the San Francisco 49ers' 24-24 tie with the St. Louis Rams last week. The 49ers should have won the game after Kaepernick put them in position for a 41-yard field goal that David Akers missed in overtime. Starting quarterback Alex Smith seems like he's going to come back from his concussion to start on Monday night against the Chicago Bears The 49ers, though, should do the smart thing and rest Smith for another week. They can beat the Bears with Kaepernick.

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Some NFL teams, though, feel that starting the backup quarterback is the same as giving up on the season. The New York Jets, for example, are in a free fall and still won't turn the team over to backup Tim Tebow. Yes, Tebow should be playing in the Arena league or running for the Senate. But Jets' starting quarterback Mark Sanchez is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. And he's never going to get any better. Why not start Tebow? What do they have to lose?

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The Record Courier Updated Nov 16, 2012 02:45PM Published Nov 16, 2012 02:43PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.