The Bullet Points
- It’s late August. The days aren’t quite as oppressively hot as they were before. A Wolf Pack football practice has been moved to an indoor basketball court due to forest fire smoke and extreme frugality. Rebel fans have anointed yet another Football Messiah who will, unlike their last Football Messiah (and the one before him, and the one before him, and the one before him…), lead them out of the wilderness of eternal suckitude. All of these things point to one sign: Yours Truly has awakened from self-imposed stasis and resumed his weekly typings! Also — and much less importantly, of course — Nevada football has returned.
- This week, I’ll shake off the typing rust and spit-ball each game while trying to sound vaguely smart/offer some brief thoughts and a prediction for each of Nevada’s games. At the end of the season, I’ll compare my predictions to the results, and the rest of you can genuflect at my obvious intellectual greatness/laugh at my previously established ineptitude.
UC Davis ~ The first of three Aggie opponents for the Pack. They return a fine quarterback and a good chunk of a roster that was hit hard by injuries last season, but are still probably a lower-to-middle-tier Big Sky team. Struggling in this game would be a bad omen for the rest of the season, but stow the panic button away for another week. Nevada 41, UC Davis 14.
Arizona ~ Fool us in a bowl game? That sucks. Fool us in the regular season? That sucks, too. Fool us a third time in four seasons? That would really suck, but is probable in this case. The Wildcats are a projected top 25 team, and a heartbeat away from another prestige bowl game. How much help will Nevada need to spring the upset? Just enough to pick against them, I’m afraid. Arizona 32, Nevada 21.
@ Texas A&M ~ In SEC country, if you hear banjos or see this, RUN. There are much worse years Nevada could’ve picked to play Aggie opponent #2, but there will still be a LOT stacked against them. Tyler Stewart’s first career road start will be in a $485 million McMansion of a stadium before 100,000+ bloodthirsty (but still strangely polite) Texans. The upside? Chicken fried hot dogs. Texas A&M 48, Nevada 27.
@ Buffalo ~ The Pack returns to the eastern time zone for a far more winnable game than their last visit. A potential pivot point for the rest of the season. Buffalo has a new coach and returns most of their offense, but is basically starting over on defense. Had Cary Groth scheduled a game in upstate New York, it would’ve been against the Bills. Nevada 35, Buffalo 24.
Nevada Southern ~ The Cannon is back in Cashell Fieldhouse, but the demons of the Rebels’ last visit to Mackay linger. Funny that the first time Tony Sanchez will taste defeat in northern Nevada won’t be at the high school level. But hey, he could always call in a favor to ol’ Snoop Dogg, right? Nevada 38, The Suckiest Bunch of Sucks That Ever Sucked 13.
New Mexico ~ “The Lobos are starting to get better, right? Kinda? Their coach is under some serious pressure this year. What kind of offense do they run? A triple option/pistol hybrid?! That’s a thing now? Ah crap, this is gonna get stressful.” One of two toss-ups at home that need to go the Pack’s way, and potential for quarterback drama. Nevada 35, New Mexico 31.
@ Wyoming ~ I remain convinced the Cowboys made the best coaching hire of any Mountain West team in the last few years. Craig Bohl can (should?) succeed in Laramie, but there are enough questions on both sides of the ball to convince me they’re one more year away from realizing that potential. Hooray for us. Nevada 27, Wyoming 14.
Hawai’i ~ The second of the two home toss-ups. Will Year 4 finally be Chow Time for Hawai’i? It’s possible, if they can survive their first six weeks. The Rainbow Warriors’ new offensive coordinator has experience turning around moribund programs, coming to the islands from Idaho State. Another game with high slobberknocker potential, depending on where the two teams’ quarterbacks stand. Nevada 34, Hawai’i 28.
@ Fresno State ~ If you do nothing else this season, Nevada, please beat these clowns like you were supposed to last year. And also the Rebels, but that’s a given. I DEMAND VENGEANCE! Fresno State 31, Nevada 28.
San José State ~ With no Thanksgiving column to save me like last season, I will likely be in the throes of yet another Bulldog-induced hate coma. But thankfully, it won’t last long with the Spartans in town, right? RIGHT?! Nevada 31, San Jose State 17.
@ Utah State ~ Aggies #3. Nevada’s schedule has a squishy midsection bookended with fairly brutal stretches predominantly on the road. On the plus side, there’s some trap game potential with the Pack being sandwiched between Air Force and BYU on Utah State's schedule. I won’t bet on it, though. Utah State 38, Nevada 24.
@ San Diego State ~ In a season full of uncertainty for the Pack, if just enough toss-ups, lucky bounces and general intangibles go their way, this game could be the final slap fight for the West Division title. Granted, I’m not predicting it in this imagining of the season — the Aztecs should be favored to win the West — but the potential is certainly there. San Diego State 41, Nevada 31.
Bowl Game ~ I’m picturing Boise or Tucson in Nevada’s future, and — what the heck — an actual bowl win. I’ll go with the Tater Bowl here. Nevada 35, Bowling Green 24.
Predicted 2015 Record: 8-5, 5-3 in MWC play.
Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA (Longmont, CO) ~ Originating in the UK during the first World War, the session beers of today can be enjoyed in several servings over a multi-hour “session” without getting the drinker visibly intoxicated. They typically contain no more than 5% ABV, and as you can probably guess, brewing one that meets this criteria without sacrificing flavor can be tricky. And for an American IPA, often aggressively hopped far beyond the Bitter Beer Face threshold? Even trickier. Oskar Blues meets this challenge with the smell of fresh pineapple when you first crack open the can, accompanied by some grapefruity and lemony zest. Those initial fruit flavors give way to a biscuity malt finish that beckons another sip. It’s all very modest, but not to the point of being unmemorable. Serious hopheads may thumb their noses at the very idea of a “moderate” IPA, but drinkers with less pretensions (or expertise, depending on your point of view), will find a nice entry point to the session style. I give it three and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.
All fan mail (burning or otherwise) can be sent to:
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Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557