The silver and blue have long been at odds with the red and gray. Saturday marks the 35th time the fierce University of Nevada, Reno-University of Nevada, Las Vegas rivalry will be played out on the football field, and students are pumped up. Associated Students of the University of Nevada President Eli Reilly said that it’s important for every student to take part in the rivalry.
“Rivalry is a cornerstone of every student’s college experience, whether here or in Ohio with Ohio State and Michigan,” he said. “It gets students that much more fired up.”
Since 1970, the prize for the annual match has been the Fremont Cannon, a 545-pound replica of a howitzer cannon used and then abandoned by explorer John Fremont in 1844. It is known as the largest and most expensive trophy in collegiate sports. Each year’s winning team is granted the right to keep the cannon at their school for the year and to paint it in their school colors: navy for Nevada, scarlet for UNLV. For Reilly, the fight over the cannon is a symbol of the competition between the two universities in all aspects of the college experience, and not just the football program.
“From everything we’re involved in, from the concrete canoe competition to academics, the experience is just magnified [when we go up against UNLV],” he said.
The cannon has resided at Nevada for the past four years, since the Wolf Pack broke the Rebels’ five-game winning streak in 2005. Neither school has kept the Cannon for more than five years at a time since the tradition began, and Nevada fans are hoping to tie the five-game record with a victory at Mackay Stadium this weekend, making the overall record of the rivalry 20-15 with a Nevada lead.
The rivalry has been the inspiration for some memorable pranks, including a 2007 incident in which traveling UNLV fans decided to paint the “N” on Peavine Mountain red, only to watch it turn pink after a rain shower. The University of Nevada has conducted its own fair share of high jinks; in 2000, when the Cannon was sent to Las Vegas for refurbishment, officials found that the Wolf Pack had renamed the University of Nevada, Las Vegas the “University of Notta Lotta Victories” on the inside of the barrel. Reilly says he wouldn’t be surprised if traveling UNLV fans have some tricks up their sleeves as they pour into Reno for the game.
“We’re always prepared for something,” he said. “You never know.”
Still, Reilly says that while the competition is fun for everyone, it’s important to observe high standards of sportsmanship. Nevada student activities group Flipside Programming’s second annual “Beat UNLV Week” is a good example of that spirit at work. Reilly says events like the “Moon Off,” in which students gathered on campus to drop their pants facing south as a symbol to UNLV of their disdain, are a great and harmless way to boost school pride. The “Roast the Rebel” barbecue is planned for 8 p.m. Friday in the north parking lot of campus.
While Reilly stressed that it’s important not to let the competitive spirit get out of hand at the game, he had no problem making it clear what he thinks Saturday’s outcome will be.
“Absolutely, we’re going to keep the Cannon,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
For more on Saturday’s game, visit the Nevada Wolf Pack website.