The Bullet Points
- Aaaaand one more for good measure: YES! I could've done an entire column of just that word repeated a thousand times. And I really wanted to. But after a conversation with our head publisher Neil Henderson, I was kindly blackmailed -- pardon me, "persuaded" -- into my normal typing duties. Apparently, Neil has in his possession a certain collection of...pictures. Pictures which could, if they were to ever see the light of day, bring unjust harm to my pristine reputation. But I say bring it on, Henderson! You don't scare me! That could be anyone's banana hammock. You're just lucky the team's on a roll and I'm in a great mood because of it.
- So...that was fun, huh? We can all exhale now...for one week. Admittedly, I may have built up that game a teeny bit more than it might've deserved to be. But what is undeniably true are the numerous important objectives Nevada reached with their not-quite-momentous-but-still-important win on Saturday. One, the bowl eligibility goal has been reached; two, the West Division really is theirs for the taking now; and three, the Rocky Long/Aztec monkey has been yanked off their collective back and fed to the crocodiles. To borrow a line from Mel Brooks' "History of the World, Part I," it's good to be the king. A king of the weaker of the Mountain West's two divisions, to be fair, but still a king.
- Confession: I don't think this San Diego State team was on par with the ones that beat Nevada the last two years -- they're still not quite fully healthy, and their quarterback play was pretty unremarkable (not that Cody Fajardo had much room to talk there). But one look at the stat line should tell you just how physical and tough they are: the total yards, first downs, time of possession and third downs converted were all basically equal for both teams. This was the most well-rounded defense Nevada has played in their conference slate. They had to work especially hard for each and every one of the thirty points they scored, even as their own defense traded blows with their opponent. And as much criticism as Nick Rolovich's play-calling was likely drawing early in the game, it was all vindicated the moment James Butler found an opening and broke lose for his fourth quarter touchdown. It was an apt manifestation of the team's "keep chopping" mantra: you won't get results right away, but if you keep on swinging and swinging and swinging that ax...
- If the football games between the Wolf Pack and Aztecs aren't considered a rivalry yet, they will be -- and should be -- soon enough. A lot of the ingredients, like a shared division, shared recruiting areas, bitterly contested games and frequent postseason ramifications, are already there. With Boise State no longer an annual opponent, the nurturing of other, closer rivalries like this one are critical to keeping the interest of fans. In fact, because of California's primacy as a recruiting area, pretty much the entire West Division is going to be vying against one another for lots of recruits, and that can only help each of them in the coming years.
- It pains me to type this out, but the Niners' home loss to the Rams was all -- or at least mostly -- on Colin Kaepernick. His fumble into the end zone on what should've been the game-winning score was downright Nevada-esque and all too painfully familiar to us. Yes, his offensive line had all the effectiveness in pass protection of a Kleenex at a snot party, and yes, the rest of his offense didn't provide him with much help, and yes, the snap he received on the play in question was pure mediocrity from a rookie center. But if you're willing to take the ball when the game is on the line and people are counting on you to score, you should also be willing to take the blame in the rare event that play goes tragically, hilariously wrong. At least if the playoffs were seeded today, the Niners would only be one game removed from one of the wild card spots.
Brasserie St. James Bamberg Rauchbier (Reno, NV) -- With another bye week upon us, I figured I'd do another local beer. The Brasserie is in a huge structure on Center Street in Midtown that used to be an icehouse, and the artesian aquifer deep underneath the building is now used in their brewing. Their brewmasters recently took home a couple of medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, including Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year. This particular brew got its name from having a quarter of its malt dried over an open fire of German beech wood, imparting a smokey flavor to the finished product ("rauchbier" literally means "smoked beer"). The color is moderate copper and amber, and the predominant taste is that of a German lager: a little bit bready with a clean finish. Rather than being front and center, though, the smoke is deliberately subtle, hanging back and taking several sips to really make itself known. I would've preferred something a little more flavor-forward, but it's a small criticism for an otherwise solid drink. In any case, it's a nice introduction to the rauchbier style, and is well suited for long, easy sips spaced out over an hour or two. I give it three and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.
This feature is the wurst. Waka waka waka.
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