Joe Santoro: Wolf Pack prepares for battle at Boise State | SierraSun.com

Joe Santoro: Wolf Pack prepares for battle at Boise State

Joe Santoro

What would it mean for the Nevada Wolf Pack football team to beat Boise State on Friday night? Well, other than a Western Athletic Conference title, not much as far as this season is concerned. Would it mean that the Pack would replace Boise State at No. 6 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and suddenly jump into the BCS bowl game mix? Uh, no. Thatand#8217;s not how big-time college football works. If the Pack beats Boise the national reaction will be that Boise State really wasnand#8217;t that good after all and never had a right to play in a BCS bowl in the first place. What would happen to the victorious Pack? Theyand#8217;ll take their nine-game winning streak and start preparing for one of five meaningless bowl games (Humanitarian, New Mexico, Hawaii, Emerald or Poinsettia). Those are the same five that would have looked at inviting them even with a loss to Boise. Donand#8217;t you just love big-time college football?

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The real reward of beating Boise State, though, is something much bigger than the 2009 season. A victory on Boiseand#8217;s blue turf, more than anything else, would give the Pack the confidence it needs next year to be all that Boise State is right now. A BCS buster. The darling of all the BCS haters. The team to beat in the WAC. A home in the Top 25. If the Pack beats Boise, they will have the jump start they need in 2010 to win at BYU, to beat Cal at home and to certainly beat Boise at Mackay Stadium. An unbeaten 12-0 regular season in 2010 and dreams of a BCS bowl invite. Thatand#8217;s what beating Boise Friday night could mean for the Pack.

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A victory over Boise also means that the Pack could take a 10-game winning streak into 2010. It will be the longest winning streak the Pack has ever taken into a season. Imagine all the off-season hype, hoopla and promise. College football will never get any better down on north Virginia Street. The longest winning streak the Pack has ever taken into a season is five, heading into the 1946, 1997 and 2006 seasons. The Pack went into the 1920 season on a nine-game unbeaten streak, but stuck in the middle of that stretch in 1919 was a tie against St. Maryand#8217;s. Yes, the Pack could make school history in its final two games this year. Thatand#8217;s what beating Boise could mean for the Pack.

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What does a loss at Boise mean for the Pack? It would mean that this program would be right back where it started at the beginning of 2009 and#8212; hoping to win big games against big-name schools (BYU and Cal in 2010) and hoping to someday knock off Boise to win the WAC title. Sound familiar?

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The Wolf Pack can certainly beat the Broncos. Donand#8217;t forget that the Pack almost beat Boise the last two years, losing 69-67 in four wild overtimes at Boise in 2007 and losing 41-34 at home last year. There really hasnand#8217;t been much difference between the two teams the last two years except a little bit of luck. The 13-point spread the odds makers made Boise State this week was laughable.

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Why will Friday night be any different than the last nine times in a row Boise State has beaten the Wolf Pack? Well, this year the Wolf Pack will bring to Boise the best rushing attack in college football this side of the 1971 Oklahoma Sooners. The last time Colin Kaepernick was in Boise, he was a scared red-shirt freshman making his first college start. Heand#8217;ll go to Boise on Friday night as one of the best run-pass threats the position of quarterback has ever seen in college football history. On top of that, Boise State on Friday will be the first team in college football history that has to prepare for three current 1,000-yard rushers on the same team. This Pack team has played at Notre Dame. They wonand#8217;t be afraid of walking out in front of 35,000 or so fans on Boiseand#8217;s Smurf Turf. This Pack team has a chip on its shoulder. This is their BCS bowl game. Wolf Pack 82, Boise State 80 in five overtimes.

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It has been argued that a Wolf Pack victory would be horrible for the WAC. Well, in the short run, that might be true on some financial level. It would drop Boise State from any BCS bowl game consideration and cost the conference a bucketful of cash. But itand#8217;s important to think about the bigger picture here. A Pack victory would be the best thing for the WAC. It would finally quiet all of the so-called college football experts east of Denver who have never seen a WAC game. They could no longer argue that the typical WAC schedule is full of cream puffs. A Pack win on Friday could mean that a team like TCU from the Mountain West Conference wouldnand#8217;t be ranked ahead of an unbeaten WAC team next year in the BCS standings. That is more important than a bucketful of cash.

and#8212; Joe Santoro writes a weekly sports column for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.