Nevada players bristled at the thought.
UCLA is a 20-point favorite in Saturday’s season opener. That had Wolf Pack players scoffing this week as they prepared to drop by the Rose Bowl.
“That seems a little high,” offensive lineman Joel Bitonio said. “They’re picked to win the Pac-12 [South]. We’re going to come down and show what Nevada is made of.”
Even Nevada’s first-year coach had a little indignation about the 20-point spread.
“It means zero … zero,” Brian Polian said. “It means absolutely nothing.”
Polian, an assistant at Texas A&M; last season, made his case.
“What was the line for the California game last year?” Polian said.
California was favored by 11. Nevada won, 31-24.
“What was the line when we went into Tuscaloosa?” Polian said.
Alabama was favored by 14. Texas A&M; won, 29-24.
Polian’s assessment of point spreads? Well, he was running short on ways to say he didn’t care, so he fell back on: “It means absolutely nothing.”
Oh, but they can mean something.
The line seemed a little low when Oregon, a 27-point favorite, beat Nevada, 69-20, in Oregon’s 2011 opener. The Wolf Pack has a 4-15 record against teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences since 2002.
Still, Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo reminded people, “We walked in and beat Cal in their brand new stadium last season.”
The Bears finished 3-9 and fired Coach Jeff Tedford.
Upon further review
Fajardo, who attended Anaheim Servite High, danced around the fact that UCLA did not recruit him in 2009, saying, “I’m a hometown kid. I loved UCLA and would have loved to go there.” But, he said, “I love my decision picking here.”
Fajardo was in a less loving mood last spring during a Q&A; with Takingbadschotz.com.
Asked what team he was most looking forward to playing, he said, “It’d have to be UCLA. I can’t overlook that game. It’ll be tremendous, especially because I’m from that area. You know, maybe I’m a little bitter about them not offering me or taking any time for me because I’m right there in their backyard.”
Game time, finally
Eddie Vanderdoes has taken a long road to get to Saturday’s game.
He signed a letter of intent with Notre Dame, then asked out of his commitment so he could transfer to UCLA. Fighting Irish Coach Brian Kelly refused and Vanderdoes had to win an appeal.
His first week of practice, he injured his back and missed more than a week. Now he gets to play.
“I can’t wait, my first college football game,” the 6-foot-4, 305-pound freshman said. “It’s nice that it’s finally here. I don’t have any expectations. I just want to do what I can to help the team.
As for the journey to get there, Vanderdoes said, “I have a short memory.”
UCLA received good news on the injury front, as nose tackle Eli Ankou is expected to miss only four weeks because of a knee injury.
Ankou was injured during practice Monday. But an MRI revealed only minor damage. He was scheduled to undergo a surgery Thursday and should be back by October.