The School: The University of Nevada
Record: 1-0 (0-0 in the Mountain West). Nevada was 3-9 in 2017, when they also lost to a 4-7 Idaho State team. Rather than deal with the challenge of a below-average FCS team this fall, they scheduled their season opener against a Portland State team that hasn’t won a game since November 2016. That worked out pretty well.
Ranking: Unranked in the AP Top 25 and Coaches’ Poll. The formulas have Nevada rated 78th in the Real Time RPI (Vanderbilt is 61st).
Mascot: The Wolf Pack. This was a better idea in pre-The Hangover days. One of my first real weddings as an adult was a daytime wedding in New Hampshire. The best man — the groom’s older brother, who only had months to prepare his speech — proceeded to read Alan’s rooftop toast word-for-word off his phone to an utterly confused crowd of aunts and grandparents. The crowd then fondly remembered the time his parents found his cocaine hidden in the family VCR and collectively nodded in understanding.
Location: Reno, NV. Your skyline is short and stubby and no one could ever take you seriously. Reno is like a corgi without the charm.
Coach: Jay Norvell.
This is the face of a man who owns several AirSoft guns. Jay was born in Madison, WI and played his college ball at Iowa, which means he can outdrink any one of us. It’s his birthright.
Conference: The Mountain West. Once the home of BYU, Utah, and TCU. Now it’s just Boise State and whoever wants to show up as No. 6 in a list of “Group of 5 teams who could sneak into a New Year’s bowl.” Looking at you, Utah State.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 0-0. Can you believe it? Both Bobby Johnson AND James Franklin had the gall to ignore the recruiting hotbed of Washoe County, Nevada.
In the Last 20 Years vs. Vanderbilt: N/A. THE RIVALRY BEGINS.
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Come on.
Is Vandy Favored?: Yes. By 10 whole points!
Most Potent Offensive Threat: McLane Mannix committed to Vanderbilt, then reversed course and picked the Wolfpack instead. AND IT WAS PROBABLY THE RIGHT MOVE! Mannix just absolutely KILLED Portland State last week, catching four passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns. And now he brings his 33 yards-per-catch average to West End, where he’s got something to prove.
Thank god we aren’t one of those dipshit fanbases that drags recruits after a teenage kid decides to change his mind about the biggest decision he’s ever made. We get it McLane. We think Nashville is getting worse, too.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Senior pass rusher Malik Reed had eight sacks and forced four fumbles last season (in only nine games) and had two tackles for loss against Portland State in the opener. And since I have nothing funny to add about him, let’s talk about McLane Mannix. He probably won’t play any defense, but if Vandy truly is cursed, a former recruit playing ironman football and housing a last-minute pick-six to win the game would be a hell of a way to prove it.
Matchup to Watch: Mason’s defense vs. a team that scored 72 damn points last week. Seriously. That’s a lot. And shutting down the Wolf Pack won’t exactly be shutting down peak Georgia, but showing off the same kind of constant pressure as last week’s win would go a long way in building optimism for 2018. And we’ll get to see if Mannix could have torched SEC defenses like he has FCS competition.
Interesting Fact: More than a decade of Reno 911! reruns meant I didn’t even have to look up what county the school was in. I’d love to talk more shit, but the city gave us Lt. Dangle and Terry.
Bonus Fact!: AND ALSO THE GREATEST MUSIC VIDEO OF A GENERATION:
If Nevada wins, we: Rage. The Wolf Pack have the offensive chops to make things difficult for Vandy, but so did MTSU, and we saw how that turned out. Beating the Blue Raiders and then turning around and losing to Nevada in advance of a showdown with Notre Dame would be extremely “same ol’ Vandy.”