Rebels miss feeling of beating Wolf Pack

UNLV players walk by the plaques nearly every day.

The plaques, just inside the entrance to the left at Rebel Park, signify the Rebels' last five victories over UNR, with the names of UNLV's seniors on each one.

Five plaques rest there, and they look as if they could be spruced up a bit. No wonder, because not since 2004 have the Rebels emerged as winners in the rivalry and owners of the Fremont Cannon.

But those plaques serve as a constant reminder to UNLV players on their way to and from football practice.

"Because I'm a senior, I want to be remembered as one of those teams that beat Reno," offensive tackle Yusef Rodgers said Monday. "I haven't seen the cannon since I've been here, and it's something that obviously has eaten at me, and it's something I want really bad for this team.

"I want to leave something for the future for the rest of these guys, so those plaques are definitely a reminder that we want to win the game."

UNLV (1-5, 1-0 Mountain West Conference) gets its chance to end its long, frustrating losing streak to the Wolf Pack (5-1, 2-0) when the teams meet at noon Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Rebels coach Bobby Hauck was a part of intense rivalries as a member of the staffs at UCLA and Washington - the Bruins with Southern California and the Huskies with Washington State and Oregon. As a head coach, he guided alma mater Montana against Montana State seven times, winning five.

The UNLV-UNR rivalry, he said, holds its own when it comes to intensity.

"I've never been a part of Alabama-Auburn, but I know those people don't like each other much," Hauck said. "That's the way this one seems to be."

Hauck is 0-2 against UNR. He and the staff spend time in the offseason preparing for this weekend, and they discuss the rivalry with the players during the spring and in fall training camp.

Rodgers noted the coaches throw in "extra incentives" to remind the players about their upstate rivals, but wouldn't provide specifics.

"It's family business," Hauck told the media. "We love you all, but you guys are like the in-laws."

The Wolf Pack not only have won, they've dominated. They won the past four meetings by an average of 28 points, shutting out the Rebels 37-0 last year at Reno.

"UNLV hasn't had a close game with Reno in a bit," Hauck said. "We feel like we've got a competitive football team, and we want to do whatever it takes to have a chance in this game."

■ NOTES - Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo, who left Saturday's 35-28 overtime victory over Wyoming in the first half because of back spasms, might not play. He won't practice until at least Wednesday, and UNR coach Chris Ault told the Reno Gazette-Journal a better determination would be made then. If Fajardo doesn't play, sophomore Devin Combs will start. Hauck said UNLV's preparations aren't affected because UNR's offense doesn't change. ...

Time Warner Cable SportsNet will televise the game, but a local broadcast has not yet been arranged.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.