Following Nevada in 2009 was pretty much like life. You start off small, bloody, and screaming (0-3 start), then you do some stuff in the middle, maybe make a name for yourself in your own little corner of the world (top rushing team in the nation, play close with Boise), and then you end up beaten up, injured, and, finally, dead (45-10 SMU). Thanks for making me think THAT happy little thought on Christmas, Nevada.
You know, I went to a lot of trouble to be on the Nevada bandwagon early this year. Okay, so it wasn’t a lot of trouble, I just typed some stuff, but I knew they’d be money this year, damn it. After their 0-3 start, I still believed in them, mostly because the only other option was to take all kinds of abuse from Phillips and the crew here. Plus, they opened at Notre Dame, at Colorado State, and home to Missouri. I have no idea how they lost to CSU, but the other two are major-conference teams. And they played Mizzou close, damn it!
Fast forward through the rest of 2009, and the Wolfpack became the first team to produce three 1,000-yard rushers in the same season. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running backs Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott comprised most of the most-rushingest team in the nation. Not Georgia Tech, not one of the service academies, not Oregon. Nevada.
Their pistol offense was fresh and doubled as an excuse for me to fantasize about what Indiana’s own pistol (or “derringer” offense, as I pretend to have called it all season even though I didn’t) was supposed to look like. They gave me hope. IU gave me pain, but that’s another blog post.
Admittedly, Nevada did most of their damage in the WAC (and even lost a 44-33 shoot out with Boise State), and the ‘Pack had pretty much the worst defense in modern football history, but hey…favorable matchup with just-happy-to-be-here SMU in the Hawai’i Bowl!
Not so fast, my friend.
Lippincott and Taua were both unavailable for the game. Taua decided not to go to class all that much, so he was ruled academically ineligible and Lippincott hurt his toe somehow. Suddenly, Kaepernick was in there all by himself against SMU, and it turned out pretty much how you’d expect given Nevada’s awful defense and lack of their two best running backs.
45-10, Southern Methodist, and it could have been worse. SMU frosh Kyle Padron threw for three benjamins in the first half and ended with 460 for the game.
So…see you guys on the bandwagon next August?