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Football: This is a season to savor for Pack fans

by Joe Santoro

Nevada Wolf Pack fans, this is for you.

This dream football season, every single program-changing moment, this is for you.

So, go ahead, enjoy it. You deserve it.



This is the season you’ve been waiting for, Pack fans. For forever. This is the season you’ve been rightfully demanding out of your football team. This is the season you’ve always known was possible yet never were given. Year after frustrating, disappointing year.

Well, it’s here now.



Enjoy it. Savor it. Grab it with both arms, pull it in and hug it. Embrace it, revel in it, bask in all its glory.

You’ve earned it, Pack fans.

Your Wolf Pack is among the best teams in the nation. They are 5-0 for the first time in two decades, since The Biggest Little Football Program made the jump to Division I-A in 1992. They have yet to trail in a game for even a split second. They have beaten a Pac-10 team (Cal), they have beaten the Notre Dame of the West (BYU) and they took the Fremont Cannon on a little field trip to the University of Notta Lotta Victories (the cannon’s words, not mine) this weekend and had it tucked in all warm and cozy back home in its own bed in Cashell Fieldhouse by early Sunday morning.

But that’s just the first act of this incredible three-act drama this season. If you missed it, don’t worry. The best is yet to come. Act II begins Saturday night when the Pack embarks on an eight -week journey to bring home a WAC title. The third and final act could be a Bowl Championship Series game in early January.

That’s crazy talk, right?

Well, it’s not so crazy at all.

The media ranks the Wolf Pack at No. 21 in the nation. The coaches have them at No. 23. And that, by the way, is No. 21 and 23 with a bullet. This Pack team isn’t going to stop climbing anytime soon.

If everything plays out true to form, the Pack will be unbeaten (11-0) and could be ranked in the Top 10 when it faces unbeaten (10-0) Boise State on the night of Nov. 26 at Mackay Stadium.

It will be a historic night in Reno, the greatest single sporting event in northern Nevada since Jack Johnson beat Jim Jeffries in the Fight of the Century 100 years ago. You don’t want to miss it. It will be a night you’ll tell your grandchildren about.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. There are still a ton of moments to savor between now and then. And Pack fans have earned the right to delight in each and every one of them.

I know, I know. You are a little reluctant to buy into all this Top 25, undefeated record stuff. What does the media know? What do the coaches know? You can take their stupid rankings and stuff them in your, OK, I know, I know.

We’re just five weeks into the season. There are tough road games in the near future at Hawaii, Idaho and Fresno State between now and Nov. 26. There is a scary game against Utah State — a team that also beat the Notre Dame of the West this weekend¬† — on Oct. 30 at Mackay.

And, yes, we are well aware that the bullet we referred to above now immediately turns into a gigantic bull’s eye that the Pack must wear on its back. The Pack is now everybody’s Big Game. That’s what comes with being 5-0 and ranked No. 21.

I know, I know.

I also understand that it’s difficult to wrap your silver and blue mind around all of this hysteria right now and completely let loose and enjoy it. You’ve been through too much heartache in recent years, too many letdowns and disappointments.

I know, I know.

It’s been difficult to watch Boise State grow into the darling of college football. That should have been the Wolf Pack, right? Right. Boise was just on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Again.

That will never stop hurting.

It was difficult to go through those eight years of mediocrity from 1997-2004 that spanned three head coaches and just one winning season. It’s been difficult to lose to Boise year after year over the past decade. It was difficult to come home from Notre Dame, Oregon, Arizona State, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Missouri (you get the idea) with your wolf tail between your legs. It was difficult to accept what-the-heck-just-happened inexcusable losses to New Mexico State at home in 2008, at Colorado State last year and at San Jose State in 2007 (to name just three).

This program has let you down before. You don’t want to be hurt again.

I know, I know.

Well, we’re here to tell you it’s safe to let loose. It’s safe to go out in the middle of the night, howl at the moon and show your Pack pride.

You’ve paid your dues.

You’ve earned this.

This is a special team, with special athletes and young men. They know what you’ve gone through in recent years. They know how hard it’s been. Heck, most of them lived it. That’s why they are so determined to change all that. It’s personal for them.

The seniors alone, many of which will show up on the Pack’s second All-Century team 90 years from now, have earned your support. Colin Kaepernick, Vai Taua, Dontay Moch, Virgil Green, John Bender, to name just five. Future Pack Hall of Famers.

Appreciate them. They appreciate you.

“It’s amazing,” said Kaepernick late Saturday night, when asked about all of the Wolf Pack fans in attendance at Sam Boyd Stadium. “It’s great to see all of that blue in the crowd.”

“That’s what we needed,” said Taua of the crowd. “The fans’ support makes us play even harder. The more support the better.”

Yes, Pack fans, you have done your part this year already. You showed up (nearly 30,000) two weeks ago to help the Pack beat Cal in the game that kicked this dream season into high gear.

Nice job. Give yourself a pat on the back. Now go get five of your friends and bring them to the rest of the games this year.

“It was a big shock to me to see how many came down from Reno for this game,” Moch said after the 44-26 win over UNLV. “Two years ago not too many showed up. This year it was a packed house for Nevada.”

Kaepernick, who looks more and more each week like the best player to ever put on a Wolf Pack uniform, has just four home games left in his career at Mackay Stadium.

Taua, who is also in that Best Pack Player Ever conversation, also has four games left. The same for Moch and the rest of the seniors.

Yes, Pack fans, it goes fast. Just when it gets good, it disappears.

So don’t miss it.

You’ve earned it.