The Battle for the Fremont Cannon

Posted by Rory Butler on Thursday September 28, 2006.

Fremont Cannon 2Sam Boyd Stadium – Las Vegas, NV
Saturday September 30th, 7pm Kickoff
Betting Line: Nevada -5

It’s hard to imagine so much hoopla and emotion surrounds a game that’s trophy is a cannon that doesn’t even fire! But it does. The largest, most expensive trophy in all of college sports is a non-functioning replica cannon! But so be it. It is what it is. It’s a still beautiful trophy that has no peer (more info on the cannon). The series has become an annual affair, thanks to the Nevada legislature mandating that the 2 teams play each other every season. Who ever said nothing of substance every gets passed in Carson City?

But let’s get back to the game, shall we?

The rivalry between Nevada (sometimes referred to as UNR) and our “branch campus” Nevada-Las Vegas (sometimes referred to as UNLV) is underrated in the vast sea of college football rivalries. As evidenced by the lack of national TV coverage, it’s clear Nevada/UNLV doesn’t generate that much fan interest outside the state. National rivalries like USC/Notre Dame or Michigan/Ohio St dwarf the Battle for the Cannon and that is understandable. Their fan bases and resources dwarf anything the Silver State could ever muster. But the real problem with generating notoriety for the game is that typically, one of the teams is dog meat while the other is just so-so. Great rivalries are born from great teams, right? Unfortunately, there won’t be any great teams at Sam Boyd stadium this Saturday evening. UNLV is an improved team but they are still a MWC bottom-feeder. Nevada on the other hand, has shown signs of being a good team but hasn’t put together a “great” performance in the eyes of many fans and casual observers.

Records aside, this game will be hard hitting and the fans will give it everything they’ve got! There is a palatable hatred that anyone that has ever been to a Cannon game understands. No matter the play on the field, the fans bring their “A game”. But the fanaticism is not reserved to the fans alone. Nevada coach Chris Ault is reported to have outlawed the color red from the football facilities. Any employee or player that wears red must change immediately or is asked to leave. That’s good stuff!

How did this rivalry become so contentious you might ask? It has less to do with football and more to do with geography and demographics. Las Vegas (ahem, Sin City!) is a bustling metropolis that continues to grow and resemble an even uglier version of Los Angeles. Reno, while a growing and bustling city in its own right, is a place that is everything that Las Vegas is not! The average Vegasite (pun intended) couldn’t tell you where Elko is on a map, while the average Renoite couldn’t tell you a thing about collagen shots!

In a fast growing state like Nevada, with only 2 major population centers and 2 major Universities, it’s not hard to imagine why the game is so important to alumni across the Silver State. This year’s duel could be decided by each teams quarterback. Both teams rely heavily on their QB to be accurate and run their versions of a spread offense. Nevada boasts a local kid turned NFL Prospect, in senior Jeff Rowe, who has come into his own as a leader. On the red side of things, UNLV has retained the services of a football mercenary in Rocky Hinds. The sophomore QB transfer from USC came to Vegas in search of playing time, after being buried on the depth chart in LA. Both quarterbacks are athletically gifted but Rowe holds the edge in experience and leadership. Look for this match-up to be a major factor in who wins this game.

Without getting further bogged down in the minutia of the game, it’s important to consider 2 things, home field advantage and momentum. The home team holds a distinct advantage in the series (out of 16 victories, Nevada has only won 6 times away from Reno). Even though Nevada may be the better team on paper, UNLV will come to play and will be out to prove their doubters wrong. As for momentum, Nevada goes into the game on a 2 game win streak, while UNLV comes stumbling in off a blowout loss to Hawaii. Nevada’s momentum should not be underestimated either. College football is so much about confidence and swagger. The team in Silver and Blue has it; the team in Red and White does not.

There is no local TV for this game, nor is there in Las Vegas. So, if you’re interested in watching the game, move to Salt Lake City where it will be televised or get your butt on a plane! But all hope is not lost. Scruples Bar on Plumb Lane has worked their technical magic and will be carrying the game live. Thank God for computer nerds! The hoops the people at Scruples are jumping through to get this game on is unbelievable. So if you are in the area, stop by Scruples and support a Nevada alumni owned and operated business while drinking a few tasty libations and watching the Pack dismantle the Rebels!


Tid Bits:

Nevada leads the all-time series 16-15
Nevada has 3 players from Las Vegas
UNLV has 0 players from Reno
Last game, Nevada won 22-14 in Reno

Radio Broadcast: 630 AM
Pre and Post Game Show: 780 AM

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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