We interrupt this unbelievably disappointing, headscratching, pillow throwing, beer drinking (ok, that's every season), coach-questioning, etc. season, to report on a road trip to UNLV.
Work brought me to Las Vegas today and I'm one of those strange people that doesn't much like Casinos. As luck would have it, UNLV was playing at home against one of the top non-BCS teams, TCU. Not having anything better to do, I figured I'd head out there.
Las Vegas is, well, Las Vegas. Suspended reality. There isn't a thing here, at least not anywhere near the strip, that is real. Well, except for people losing money. Everyone here is in la-la land, getting away from reality. Makes for a strange crowd. Anyway, left that behind, and drove the 8 miles out to Sam Boyd Stadium (the Silver Bowl). The Las Vegas Valley is actually quite pretty, away from the strip, if you like high desert (lots of dry, red mountains).
Sam Boyd Stadium is small, probably around 40k at capacity, and tonight it was nowhere near it. The Runnin' Rebels were 3-5 headed into this game, with a big win over Arizona State and heart-breaking losses to Air Force and BYU. Anyway, at 3-5, the fan base for a non-BCS team isn't real fired up. There wasn't much in the way of tail gating, and the stadium was less than half-full. Though the Horned Frogs did a pretty good job bringing their fans along. In a half-full stadium, I was able to walk up to the ticket window and purchase a 45-yard line ticket for $29. Well, it was supposed to be $29, but the ATM at the casino gave me two $100 bills when I withdrew some cash. I gave one of them to the teller at the ticket window and realized when I took my money back out of my pocket after the game, that she gave me $81 in change. So the 45-yard line seat was $19. Much cheaper than hanging out in a casino for three hours.
It was kind of fun to see what a good non-BCS team looks like. TCU was solid. They run the spread pretty well and have a stout defense. They took their opening drive in for a touchdown, and their second drive, too. After that they put it in cruise, and after a final minute UNLV touchdown, won 44-14. And it could've been much worse, but for TCU's muffed punt, untimely penalties (we Badgers know something about that), and a pick, I think.
Anyway, the game wasn't that competitive, but I noted some other things. TCU's helmets are really purple. Really. Also, their place kicker, for kick-offs, is a toe kicker, not a soccer-style kicker. Can't remember the last one of those I've seen. Oh, and he was born without a left forearm (left arm goes just past his elbow).
UNLV's band is really small, but they make up for it with the "Rebel Girls." Future "gentleman's club" pole dancers? That's probably not very fair, but, you know, it is Vegas.
On my way out, I noticed a bunch of cattle right next to the east side of the stadium. That's a little different. Also, I was amused by the announcer's exhortation at the end of the game, "go ahead and take a chance on anything in our town, except on our roads."
And for a closing thought: I can't believe UNLV took us to the bell last season. Ridiculous. With the facilities and fan support they have, a game with them should never be close. Never.
From Las Vegas . . . until the next time.
Wisconsin basketball Big Ten schedule released
6 hours ago