Brats, Beers and Bullet Points, Week 11

First, some old business that shouldn't be old business.

The Bullet Points

  • How did I go all of last week without so much as mentioning the 9,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards milestone Cody Fajardo reached against San Diego State? This was, putting it mildly, a terrible oversight on my part. I will now punish myself in a manner appropriate to the transgression: spending 20 minutes on Bronco Country while pretending its residents AREN'T the most ignorant, tone-deaf miscreants on the Internet.

  • Now that I've undergone my punishment -- following it up by scrubbing my eyes with steel wool and vinegar in a futile attempt to expunge the fresh stupidity from my consciousness -- let's return to the matter at hand. Reaching the 9K/3K plateau would be cause for serious celebration at any other football program. But the long shadow cast by Colin Kaepernick, made even longer by the fact that he was still a tangible presence at Mackay a mere four years ago, has robbed Cody Fajardo of much of the praise he's earned. This is the monster of complacency the pistol offense has created: exceptional displays of physical and statistical prowess rendered boring and routine. And speaking of which, few Truckee Meadows residents can comprehend the impact the pistol offense has had on American football since its inception. But even fewer are cognizant of just how atypical the quarterback play they've been privileged to watch the last eight years has been. Two players. The only ones of their kind in the history of the highest level of college football. Reaching the same rarified status. In back-to-back tenures. At the same small-time program. Not Alabama, or Michigan, or Notre Dame, or USC, or Ohio State, but Nevada. Take a moment to really absorb all of that, and remember it when spring practices begin, and we all start fretting over who will be the next starting quarterback to be saddled with the expectation of following two legends.

  • Turning back to the present, Nevada faces its latest and greatest Big Game of the Year at Air Force on Saturday. More than a pivotal game for both teams' divisional hopes, it also represents Nevada's last chance (for now) to beat a team from the Mountain West's better half. Out of the league's five currently bowl eligible teams, four of them are from the Mountain Division. Their record against FBS non-conference opponents is a respectable 14-7, while the West is 3-16 in such games and is about to fall to 3-17 after UNLV's game at BYU this week. Those lone three wins have come against Washington State (3-7), Idaho (1-8) and the aforementioned BYU, the only one of the bunch who will finish above .500.

  • How has it come to this? For one, Fresno State is way down from its prior lofty heights, and apparently took scheduling advice from Cary Groth when crafting their early season slate; the Aztecs met most outside expectations, but have done nothing of real note to date; San Jose State's schedule had only five home games and did them no favors (seriously, is Groth moonlighting as a scheduling consultant now?); Hawai'i keeps on wondering how they thought "Chow Time" was a good idea; and UNLV was drop-kicked out of the 7-win Bizarro World they accidentally wandered into last year. Heck, Fresno still has a shot to win the division, and they lost at UNLV last month. They could finish 6-6, and still represent the West in the conference title game. Gag unto me with a spoon. As bad as it sounds, Nevada basically has to win the West in order to (at least partially) save face for the other five teams. Anything less at this point would be anti-climactic and bitterly disappointing, and it's unlikely the division will continue to be this bad in the coming years.

  • Watching this defense the last few weeks, you get the sense they're more disciplined and better equipped to face the rigors of a football season than last year's unit. They're also better coached and have a greater general belief in themselves. Not surprisingly, they're going to have to bring all of these things to bear in the frigid temperatures and thin air of the Academy against a team they were lucky to beat last year. I'm reluctant to predict a win with Nevada's prior track record against triple option teams, but I'm also reluctant to pick against them with their current winning streak and sky high confidence ("Sky high"? Air Force? See what I did there?). This is the game of the week in the Mountain West, and it will be appropriately hairy and hectic to watch unfold. If Nevada can weather that familiar first half storm and not fall behind by too many scores, they're entirely capable of winning this one. Wolf Pack 28, Falcons 27.

  • Any chance San Francisco has of reaching the playoffs was resurrected from the dead by Colin Kaepernick's 51-yard completion to Michael Crabtree at the end of regulation on Sunday. You're welcome, Niner fans.

The Beer

Oskar Blues Old Chub Scotch Ale (Longmont, CO) -- In addition to being a term of endearment used by old married couples (or maybe that was just with my grandparents...?), Old Chub is one of this Colorado brewery's year-round offerings. Oskar Blues is renowned for being one of the first craft breweries in America to sell their beer in cans, and considering some of the advantages they have over bottles -- they're smaller, take less time to get cold, and never give sunlight a chance to skunk the beer -- it's odd that more brewers don't utilize them. A Scotch ale like Old Chub is sometimes called a "Wee Heavy," which could also double as the title of The Fat Boys' autobiography. The beer pours out of its can an almost soda-like dark brown with a head that quickly dissipates. Lots of different malts dominate the smell, with a little bit of it beechwood-smoked not unlike last week's beer. The taste is similarly malty-then-smoky, with other notes of coffee and chocolate present, and the slight burn that accompanies it all tapers off as the beer gets closer to room temperature. I've heard others refer to Scotch ales as the beer equivalent of a glass of good Scotch whisky, but I'm not knowledgeable enough with them to know whether that's true. What I do know is that Old Chub stands well enough on its own to warrant a taste for yourself. I give it four tipsy Wolfies out of five.

The Brats

You don't need to see a brat review this week. This isn't the segment you're looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

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

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