Game guide: Pack, Rebels meet for Fremont Cannon

The Nevada defense held UNLV to 283 yards in the Wolf Pack’s 51-20 win at Mackay Stadium in 2021.

The Nevada defense held UNLV to 283 yards in the Wolf Pack’s 51-20 win at Mackay Stadium in 2021.
Photo by Thomas Ranson.

A look ahead to Saturday’s (2 p.m.) Mountain West football game between the Nevada Wolf Pack (0-5, 0-1) and UNLV Rebels (4-1, 1-0) at Mackay Stadium:

HOW TO WATCH, LISTEN: TV: Nevada Sports Net. Radio: 105.7 FM.

THE POINT SPREAD: UNLV is favored by 9.5 points, the first time it has been favored in a game at Mackay Stadium since 2005 (two points).

AT STAKE FOR NEVADA: The Fremont Cannon. State pride. The ability to sell tickets to home games the rest of the year. The Wolf Pack is also looking for its first Mountain West victory since beating Colorado State, 52-10, in the final game of the 2021 regular season.

AT STAKE FOR UNLV: Keeping the cannon red and proving its 4-1 start is not a fluke again. UNLV also started 4-1 last year but then lost six games in a row. The Rebels are also hoping to become 2-0 in the Mountain West for the first time since 2013.

PACK LOSING STREAK FACTS: The Wolf Pack is 0-7 at home and 0-8 on the road during its current 15-game losing streak. The 15-game losing streak is the longest in school history. The Pack has been outscored 537-242 during the streak, an average of 35.8-16.1. At kickoff on Saturday, it will be 406 days since the Pack last won a game (Sept. 3, 2022, against Texas State).

PACK FOLLOWING IN REBEL FOOTSTEPS: A Wolf Pack loss to UNLV will give the Pack a share of the longest college football losing streak in the history of the state. UNLV once lost 16 in a row, starting with the final five games of 1997 and all 11 in 1998.

UNLV LAST TIME OUT: The Rebels had a bye last week after beating Hawaii 44-20 on Sept. 30. The win over Hawaii was the Rebels’ third consecutive game with 40 or more points, a school record. UNLV ran for 307 yards and three touchdowns against Hawaii.

NEVADA LAST TIME OUT: The Pack also had a bye last week after losing 27-9 to the Fresno State Bulldogs on Sept. 30. The only Nevada touchdown was a 19-yard pass from A.J. Bianco to Spencer Curtis with 11 seconds to play. Nevada has now been outscored 62-16 over its last six quarters of play, starting with the second half against Texas State (35-7) on Sept. 23.

THE SERIES: The Wolf Pack is 28-20 against UNLV in the series, which began in 1969. The two rivals, though, have split the last 10 games with UNLV winning three-of-five at Mackay Stadium.

LOOKING TO WIN FIRST CANNON: Saturday’s game will just be the seventh time that both head coaches will be looking for their first victory in the Pack-Rebel rivalry. UNLV’s Barry Odom is making his Fremont Cannon game debut while the Pack’s Ken Wilson is 0-1. The other six times winless Cannon coaches matched up was 1969 (UNLV’s Bill Ireland and Nevada’s Jerry Scattini were both 0-0), 1976 (UNLV’s Tony Knap and Nevada’s Chris Ault were both 0-0), 1993 (UNLV’s Jim Strong was 0-3 while Nevada’s Jeff Horton was 0-0), 2000 (UNLV’s John Robinson was 0-1 while Nevada’s Chris Tormey was 0-0), 2013 (UNLV’s Bobby Hauck was 0-3 while Nevada’s Brian Polian was 0-0) and 2022 (UNLV’s Marcus Arroyo was 0-2 while Wilson was 0-0).

THE LAST CANNON BATTLE: UNLV beat Nevada 27-22 at Allegiant Stadium on Nov. 26, 2022. Nevada led 13-0 in the first quarter as Brandon Talton kicked two field goals and Nate Cox tossed a 75-yard touchdown to B.J. Casteel. UNLV’s Jonathan Baldwin returned a Pack fumble 55 yards for a touchdown for UNLV’s first points. Cox passed for 278 yards while Toa Taua ran for 144 yards on 29 carries for the Pack in their final college game.

THE HEAD COACHES: Nevada’s Ken Wilson is 2-15, in his second year as head coach after starting 2-0. UNLV’s Barry Odom is 4-1 and in his first season as Rebel head coach. The last Rebel rookie head coach to also start 4-1 was Tony Knap in 1976. Odom was also 25-25 as Missouri’s head coach from 2016-19.

BOWL HOPES: Nevada would have to win six of its last seven games in order to qualify for a bowl invitation. UNLV needs to win two of its final seven to qualify. Nevada last played in a bowl in 2021 (losing to Western Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, 52-24). UNLV last went to a bowl in 2013 (losing to North Texas, 36-14, in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in Texas).

UNLV OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Freshman Jai’Den Thomas has rushed for 273 yards and seven touchdowns while former Pitt running back Vincent Davis has 256 yards and one score. Freshman Jayden Maiva has filled in for injured starter Doug Brumfield at quarterback the last three-plus games and has completed 54-of-94 passes for 701 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Ricky White has 23 catches for 319 yards and no scores while Jacob De Jesus has 18 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns. UNLV averages 36 points and 394 yards a game.

NEVADA OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Colorado transfer Brendon Lewis has started all five games at quarterback, completing 76-of-128 passes for 620 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. Lewis also leads the team in rushing with 196 yards and two touchdowns. Oregon transfer Sean Dollars has 175 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 3.0 yards per carry. Jamaal Bell leads the team with 26 catches for 247 yards and a touchdown. The Wolf Pack averages 15.4 points and 292.4 yards per game.

CANNON PREFERS WINNING TEAMS: The Fremont Cannon has been won 35 times (out of 48) by a team that finished with a record of .500 or better. Seven of UNLV’s last nine victories in the rivalry, though, have come when they have finished with a losing record (2022, 2019, 2018, 2015, 2004, 2002, 2001). The Wolf Pack has won the cannon 28 times, with just five (1997, 1999, 2007, 2016, 2017) coming in a losing season.

REBELS AT MACKAY: UNLV has won just nine of 24 games at Mackay Stadium. The Rebels’ last four victories in Reno have come by four, five, six and three points. The Rebels’ biggest win at Mackey was 45-7 in 1975 in Jerry Scattini’s final game as Wolf Pack head coach.

FREMONT CANNON BIDS FAREWELL TO COACHES: This is not likely to happen this year since the game is being played in the middle of the season, but seven head coaches departed their respective schools after the Fremont Cannon game. It has happened to two Wolf Pack coaches (Jerry Scattini in 1975, Brian Polian in 2016) and five UNLV coaches (Bill Ireland in 1972, Ron Meyer in 1975, Bobby Hauck in 2014, Tony Sanchez in 2019 and Marcus Arroyo last year). The seven coaches combined were 4-3 in their final game in the rivalry so, yes, not even the cannon could save four of them.


Who: UNLV (4-1, 1-0) at Nevada (0-5, 0-1)

When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Where: Mackay Stadium (27,000)

TV: Nevada Sports Net

Radio: 105.7 FM (John Ramey, Mike Edwards)

Spread: UNLV by 9.5 points; total of 53.5


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