Photo by Alexa Solis / Nevada Sagebrush
By Eric Uribe
Remember the dumbfounded look on the faces of WrestleMania XXX spectators’ when Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker’s vaunted undefeated streak earlier this month? If you need a reminder, search “shocked undertaker guy” on Google. Similar looks may have transcended onto Wolf Pack followers’ faces after Nevada’s past stretch.
A week ago, the Wolf Pack had seemingly forgotten what bad luck was after winning eight of 10 games. But an out-of-conference stretch is all it took to bring Nevada back down to Earth.
First a subpar .500 team in San Francisco handed the Wolf Pack its fourth loss at home. Then Utah, entering the game 12-24, roughed up Nevada’s ace Michael Fein for six runs en route to a 13-0 whooping. “Inclement weather” canceled the next two games, before the Wolf Pack got its saving grace with a 11-1 win over the Utes on Sunday. Nevada is going to need short-term memory loss with a big series against Air Force on tap this weekend.
The last time these two foes met, the Wolf Pack swept the Falcons by a combined score of 17-4. Before you think Nevada has another sweep locked up, consider this: Air Force is two weeks removed from sweeping the MWC-leading and then-No. 20 UNLV. Moreover, the Falcons went off for 35 combined runs during the sweep. Both are astonishing feats, especially considering that the Falcons have won just two conference games outside its series with UNLV and are averaging 4.4 runs a game throughout the season.
This upcoming series will prove if the UNLV sweep was an anomaly for Air Force or an upward trend for the squad. Evidence that this a trend can be found in the Falcons’ follow-up game to the series against Northern Colorado. In that game, the Falcons notched a 11-10 victory. It was the second time Air Force topped the Bears this season — with the Falcons reaching double-digit in runs both games. Impressive, but then again, Northern Colorado is 6-37 this season. Ouch.
Last weekend, Air Force returned to its woeful ways, being swept by not-so-great Fresno State. The Bulldogs held the Falcons to one run each game, too. The sweep cemented the Falcons to the MWC cellar and two-and-a-half games behind San Jose State. It’ll be interesting to see which Jekyll-Hyde side of Air Force shows up this weekend.
No, that headline doesn’t refer to the legendary wrestling tag-team composed of the spike-wearing and face-painted tandem of Hawk and Animal. Rather, can Nevada win away from the concaves of Peccole Park? The Wolf Pack holds a lowly 8-13 record away from home this season. With six of its last 13 games on the road, Nevada needs to find a winning formula while away to make a dash for the finish.
The Wolf Pack’s mettle will be tested in the season’s final three weeks. The team has made dramatic improvements from a year ago, but a conference championship is in sight, and that’s a baseline expectation. Nevada will need to win on the road in the season finale against UNLV, too. After what Air Force did to t h e Rebels, why can’t the Wolf Pack do the same?
Eric Uribe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.