The Bullet Points
- Picture, if you can, the most jaded, cynical and pessimistic Wolf Pack fan in existence – we're talkin' black hole levels of optimism, the entire RGJ staff blasted with gamma rays and made very, very angry ("Chris Murray SMASH!!!"). Now imagine locking that Nega-Fan in a windowless, scarlet red room, denying them everything but the most basic nutritional needs and a bed made of lava rocks, and limiting their entertainment options to old copies of People magazine and a rabbit-eared television set playing a continuous loop of "Bio-Dome" on VHS. If you were to release that poor soul back into the world after a month of this isolation, and tasked them with thinking up the worst possible way for the %%MATCH_6%% football team to lose a game...they probably would've come up with something similar to what we witnessed on Saturday night.
- To come back from 28 points down to within one score, set themselves up to force overtime, and be denied that opportunity from both their own prior ineptitude and equal remaining parts shoddy officiating and good old-fashioned bad luck...was spirit-crushing. It hurt me to see it – not physically, but metaphysically. You read correctly: it felt like it hurt my very soul. Like all of us, I love my Wolf Pack a step beyond what most would consider a normal amount, and the first two-plus hours of that game were like watching a rabbit being slowly suffocated and gulped down a python's throat. But from the end of the third quarter on, something only slightly short of miraculous happened, something akin to seeing that rabbit start squirming and kicking back to life while the python gasped for air. But the pass interference penalty following what would've – should've – been Jericho Richardson's game-tying touchdown was like seeing that rabbit emerge unscathed from the jaws of the beast...only to be scooped up by a nearby hawk who was just sitting up in a tree biding his time all along. It would've been hilarious if it had happened to another team, but we weren't that lucky this time.
- I'm generally in favor of letting a certain amount of time pass before trying to assess where a win or loss ranks relative to others of its kind, but that Colorado State loss has rocketed into my top five (or is it the bottom?) most infuriating and heinous losses I've ever seen. It's right up there with the 2007 Hawai'i game (I love ya, Coach Ault, but I'm still waiting on that timeout...), the 2011 Texas Tech game and the second New Mexico Bowl as Certified Fresh Nevada Fan Nightmare Fuel.* The football gods are fickle, sadistic, and loathe each and every one of us. *Patent pending.
- What does this mean for Nevada's season? We can pretty safely say that they're not a championship-caliber team. Teams that win championships find ways to also win games like the last two, and dropping them both – at home, no less – almost never bodes well. While it's true that none of their three losses to date have been to “bad” teams, their continued inability to get out of their own way means expectations should probably be scaled back from “champions or bust.” There are still a lot of other goals that can be met, including pulling out a west division title with some outside help, but they're no longer in full control of that potential end. Now they step out of conference play and go on the road against a BYU team without Taysom Hill, also weathering a two-game skid and perhaps in even greater desperation to stabilize their season. I want to believe, but I want to be proven wrong even more. Cougars 28, Nevada 24.
- For the second week in a row, we can thank the Fightin' Kaepernicks for bringing some much-needed positivity into this column. It was especially cathartic to see them pull out a comeback of their own after the fresh hell of Saturday night, with Kap racking up the second-best passing game of his Niners career (22 of 36 for 343 yards and 3 touchdowns with no picks). One of those three scores came on a scramble to his left, throwing a pristine rainbow of a pass across his body, over a rushing lineman and back down to Anquan Boldin in the rear of the end zone. And now, because even an average beer is better than a good synopsis of a loss, let's keep the positivity going with this week's review!
Uinta Punk'n Harvest Pumpkin Ale (Salt Lake City, UT) -- I have mixed feelings about pumpkin beers. On one hand, there are some legitimately good ones from breweries all over the country, and when they arrive in stores every fall, they're consistently snatched up in droves. And they're not a new creation, contrary to what you might think, occupying a pretty cool niche in the history of American brewing dating back to colonial times. But on the other hand, there's still something undeniably yuppy about them today. If Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes are a trope of "basic white girls," then pumpkin beers are almost certainly their "basic white guys" counterpart. My own take on a pint of Punk'n I had last week? In a word: "eh." The actual pumpkin taste was surprisingly mild, taking a back seat to its malt before giving way to vanilla, honey and cinnamon flavors. Making pumpkin a secondary flavor in its own beer seems counterintuitive, even if the brew itself is at least adequate. It's not a beer you'd drink on its own, and is probably best served with a dessert like cheesecake, fruit pie or (of course) something with pumpkin. Ultimately, I've had better pumpkin beers, but I've also had much worse. I give it three tipsy Wolfies out of five.
Still no cooked meats this week, but here's the candy I promised before. Editor's note: I'm especially fond of these gourmet brats from Omaha Steaks.
All fan mail (burning or otherwise), should be sent to: Andrew Maurins c/o North RV Lot Campus of THE University of Nevada Reno, NV 89557