Last week's win over Hawaii wasn't only big for the Nevada football team. It was big for Jay Norvell's showering habits.
"It's been two years since we beat this Hawaii team," Norvell said during his weekly press conference. "Two years ago, I started taking cold showers and I vowed to continue to do that every morning until we beat this team. And I'm glad to say Sunday morning I took a hot shower. But I told the players I started taking cold ones again because we're not done, so we got a lot to work for. We're excited about playing in the second half of the season."
Sept. 28, 2019 might have been the low point of the Norvell era. The Wolf Pack took a few beatings that season, including a 71-point loss at Oregon, but the 54-3 drubbing against Hawaii that rainy September night hit differently. It was against a Mountain West opponent. Nevada was favored to win. It was at home. And the Wolf Pack lost by 51. Nevada looked so lost it turned to Malik Henry as its starting quarterback for the next two games. And Norvell started taking cold showers after the massive defeat.
But a little more than two years later, with a win over Hawaii in hand, Nevada seems to be at the high point of Norvell's tenure. The Wolf Pack sits at 5-1 overall and 2-0 in Mountain West play halfway through the 2021 season. It heads into a huge conference tilt at Fresno State on Saturday, with a Nevada win potentially putting the team in the driver's seat to reach its first MW championship game.
"It's really important," Norvell said of the Fresno State game. "All our conference games are really important. We make a big deal out of them and then our division games are all important. These are old rivalry games that have been played a long time, and they're always physical. I think that's the one thing I love about playing Fresno and San Diego State is that they're just really physical games. They're really not complicated games. People have to block and tackle and play man coverage and beat man coverage, and so they're great games to play in and compete in."
Fresno State (5-2, 2-1) was ranked in the Top 25 earlier this season before being tripped up at Hawaii, a 27-24 loss fueled by six turnovers. The Bulldogs beat Wyoming, 17-0, last week.
"It'll be a big game," Norvell said. "As we look down the schedule, really every week is a great challenge and every week is an important game. So this is kind of the start of that stretch now and playing on the road will make it even more of a challenge. So we look forward to it. I really think we've been battle-tested playing on the road this year, and those experiences are going to help us with some of the games that we have in the second half of the schedule."
Nevada's most difficult conference games remain on the second half of the schedule, including road contests at Fresno State and San Diego State and a home game with Air Force. Those three teams are a combined 17-2 this season.
3,500 tickets remain for UNLV game
Nevada said this week only 3,500 tickets remaining for the Oct. 29 Battle for the Fremont Cannon game against UNLV.
General admission tickets have already sold out but the remaining inventory starts at a price of $20. Tickets can be held in will call for pick up or can be obtained during regular ticket office hours at Lawlor Events Center or on gameday near Jensen Plaza at Mackay Stadium four hours prior to kickoff.
Nevada last played UNLV at home in 2019 when it lost 33-30 in overtime, which remains the Rebels' last victory. That game drew 16,683 fans. The Wolf Pack's last sellout came Oct. 3, 2015 against UNLV with an announced crowd of 29,551 fans.
The Wolf Pack beat UNLV, 37-19, last season and is currently in possession of the Fremont Cannon.