Bounce-back season for Wolf Pack

The Fremont Cannon, painted red and with a sign of the score of last season’s 27-22 victory by UNLV over UNR, has sat for many months just inside the entrance at Lied Athletic Complex.

It wasn’t there Monday.

Considering the opposite directions the football seasons of the two state schools have gone, it’s easy to joke the Rebels shipped the cannon back to Reno to save time and hassle later.

The teams meet in Las Vegas on Nov. 29, and the truth is the Wolf Pack has been on a mission to get the cannon back and eradicate the poor taste of their 4-8 record last season.

Though UNR still must wait a month and a half to try to wrest back the cannon, this clearly is an improve Wolf Pack team at 4-3 and coming off a come-from-behind 42-35 victory at Brigham Young.

“It was certainly a joyful locker room,” UNR coach Brian Polian said Tuesday. “The players and the coaching staff deserve credit for that, and they should take joy in it because winning’s hard. It’s even harder when you have to keep coming from double digits down.

“You could feel the energy in the building this morning at 7 a.m. when we came in for meetings. Guys were wide awake and into what we were doing. Everybody was a little bit early.”

For all the mistakes Polian made in his first season as the Wolf Pack’s coach, he is making more correct decisions than wrong ones in his second year. He has gone from being a coach who wasn’t long for Reno to one who is in the conversation for Mountain West Coach of the Year, though behind Air Force’s Troy Calhoun and Colorado State’s Jim McElwain.

The Wolf Pack even have quality losses — falling by seven points at Arizona, by five to Boise State and by seven to Colorado State — or they would be deep in contention for the West Division.

One quality loss they don’t plan on having is at UNLV. The Rebels, coming off their own big victory over Fresno State, can still have something to say about that and whether the cannon returns in red to the Lied.

UNLV looks as if it will have quite a fight on its hands to keep the trophy.

AROUND THE MOUNTAIN WEST

Colorado State has sold out Saturday’s home game against Wyoming, the Rams’ second sellout in a row. Until this season, they hadn’t sold out a home game since 2004. … Hawaii has lost 16 consecutive road games, a school record. … New Mexico coach Bob Davie is planning to use a two-quarterback system the rest of the season, with Cole Gautsche and Lamar Jordan sharing the spot. … San Jose State running back Jarrod Lawson was suspended for six games for breaking team rules for the second time. … Utah State quarterback Darell Garretson will undergo surgery on his right wrist, and whether he returns this season is uncertain. Craig Harrison will start Saturday’s home game against UNLV.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Boise State (5-2, 3-1). Last game: Defeated Fresno State 37-27. Next game: vs. Brigham Young, Friday. Last meeting: Lost 37-20 in 2013. Line: -7.

2. Colorado State (6-1, 2-1 MW). Last game: Defeated Utah State 16-13. Next game: vs. Wyoming Saturday, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 52-22 in 2013. Line: Colorado State -19.

2. Utah State (4-3, 1-1). Last game: Lost to Colorado State 16-13. Next game: vs. UNLV, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 28-24 in 2013. Line: Utah State -17.

4. UNR (4-3, 1-2). Last game: Defeated BYU 42-35. Next game: at Hawaii, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 31-9 in 2013. Line: UNR -3.

5. San Diego State (4-3, 3-1). Last game: Defeated Hawaii 20-10. Next game: at UNR, Nov. 1. Last meeting: Won 51-44 (OT) in 2013. Line: N/A.

6. Air Force (5-2, 2-2). Last game: Defeated New Mexico 35-31. Next game: at Army, Nov. 1. Last meeting: Won 42-28 in 2013. Line: N/A.

7. San Jose State (3-3, 2-1). Last game: Defeated Wyoming 27-20. Next game: at Navy, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 58-52 (3 OT) in 2013. Line: Navy -9.

8. Fresno State (3-5, 2-2). Last game: Lost to Boise State 37-27. Next game: vs. Wyoming, Nov. 1. Last meeting: Won 48-10 in 2013. Line: N/A.

9. Hawaii (2-5, 1-1). Last game: Lost to San Diego State 20-10. Next game: vs. UNR, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 31-9 in 2013. Line: UNR -3.

10. Wyoming (3-4, 1-2). Last game: Lost to San Jose State 27-20. Next game: vs. Colorado State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 52-22 in 2013. Line: Colorado State -19.

-11. UNLV (2-5, 1-2). Last game: Defeated Fresno State 30-27 (OT). Next game: at Utah State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 28-24 in 2013. Line: Utah State -17.

12. New Mexico (2-5, 0-3). Last game: Lost to Air Force 35-31. Next game: at UNLV, Nov. 1. Last meeting: Lost 56-42 in 2013. Line: N/A.

GAME OF THE WEEK

BYU at Boise State. The Cougars aren’t the same after losing quarterback Taysom Hill to a broken left leg Oct. 3, but any victory over BYU is notable. Utah State and UNR both have beaten the Cougars, and now it’s Boise State’s chance, which would help the Broncos continue the momentum of winning five of their past six games.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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