The Bullet Points
- After a short week of practice, a 2,100-mile flight, and a required-by-law visit to Niagara Falls, Nevada barely came out on the better end of some hot, steamy MACtion in Buffalo on Saturday. And anyone familiar with the corresponding Twitter hashtag can tell you it’s 70-80% less hot than it sounds. Don Jackson and James Butler continued their rendition of thunder and lightning in cleats, and instead of giving up another late go-ahead score in a close game, the defense played a decisive role in the win…kind of. You should know by now that there’s usually a caveat when good things happen to Wolf Pack football. It’s true that the defense’s three turnovers proved to be a difference in the win, and they held the Bulls to less than 4 yards per carry on the ground. But it still didn’t feel like the defense “won” the game so much as they "held on for dear life when their teammates on offense couldn’t get a critical first down."
- But there are a couple of reasons I'm coming down on the side of
doling out credit for this win, and that’s for the circumstances
surrounding the game, and the (very small) measure of dignity it
restores to the Mountain West’s out-of-conference profile. For Buffalo
specifically, the Bulls had won 10 of their last 13
home games before Saturday. It is, for MAC teams, at least, a
reasonably hard place to win, and the Mountain West is still bad enough
this year to warrant that comparison. Throw in an admirable, likely
draining effort in College Station the very week before, and you have a
recipe for a jet-lagged, less-than-100% bunch of players. Don’t
underestimate just how hard it is to travel three time zones east under
those circumstances and still resemble a functioning football team when
you get there, so give the team a bit of credit in at least that one
area. And for that aforementioned comparison, the MAC has been
noticeably better than the Mountain West in non-conference games,
particularly with two teams: Toledo, who, like Boise State, is
currently receiving top 25 votes but, unlike the Broncos, are still
currently unbeaten; and Bowling Green, who have two road wins over Big
Ten teams, something no other non-power conference team can claim. It's
a good (not great) win for the conference that will count for something
by the end of the year.
- And now…the main event. The Rubbles beat Idaho State 80-8 last week, and it was every bit as deserving of a three-hour yakety sax soundtrack as the final score would have you believe. It’s safe to assume this is the most excited anyone anywhere has ever been after beating Idaho State’s football team. Heck, depending on which Rabble fans you talk to, they may as well have won the college football playoff. And unlike the usual bluster we’re accustomed to hearing from their fans, they might actually be on to something this year. It’s evident they play better than the sum of their parts, and genuinely enjoy and respect their new coach. Additionally, the last time the Wolf Pack and the Feebles headed into their game having both won the previous week was in 2010. And when you throw in the fact that this year’s game also opens conference play for both teams, there’s some actual intrigue and urgency in this year’s match-up. Some other things that are also true? The Trebles still haven’t beaten an FBS team in nearly a year, and haven’t won on the road in nearly two years. Count on the Pack to be freshly recharged for a sold-out home crowd. Both teams will try to grind it out on the ground, and I think Jackson and Butler will come out on top there. Neither team’s quarterbacks will fill up a highlight reel, but my feeling is that Tyler Stewart will play just well enough, and Blake Decker’s proclivity for turnovers will cost the Wobbles. I envision it close heading into the fourth quarter, with an interception handing Nevada the final score of the day. Summing it all up Empire Strikes Back-style: the Force is with you, young Sanchez, but you are not a Jedi yet. Preseason prediction: Nevada 38, The Suckiest Bunch of Sucks That Ever Sucked 13. Revised prediction: Nevada 31, Halfway Decent But Still Peaked In High School 21.
- Finally, eight years after it was written, I'm still amazed at how succintly this Esquire column explains everything I love about Reno. Any Tribbles who still hopelessly cling to the Reno-is-a-dump cliche can pound sand.
Tenaya Creek Hauling Oats Oatmeal Stout (Las Vegas, Nevada) ~ For a city its size, the craft beer scene in Las Vegas is…lacking. I would happily put Reno’s best new and old breweries up against the same from Vegas, and I don’t think it’s rivalry week boasting to say the north would mostly win out (for what it’s worth, the fellow beer geeks I know — with varying levels of interest in football — all agree). But in keeping with the general mood of this rivalry week, Vegas drinkers are hopeful that status quo may finally be changing for the better with each new brewery that opens its doors. This week, I gave Tenaya Creek — the same brewery that ended up having the second-worst beer I reviewed last season — a second chance this year, and they performed a little better this time around. Their oatmeal stout — named for the oats added during the brewing process — pours a dark brown with a thick head that’s not around for long. Smells of bitter cocoa and dark malt give way to a chocolate and oatmeal taste not unlike the same type of cookies my Mom still makes. There was no lacing on the glass I used, and the finish was lightly sweet. While not unpleasant, it still felt watery and thin overall, a problem also present in last season’s brown ale. I wouldn’t quite recommend them for a friend in the city — that distinction goes to Banger Brewing on Fremont Street — but not unlike UNLV football, you take the decent where you can find it. I give it three tipsy Wolfies out of five, with a half Wolfie from the chocolate chip oatmeal cookie nostalgia.
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