The Bullet Points
- The bad news is that the Red Cannon collective hallucination we all bore witness to is still not a hallucination after all. But the good news is that, for at least one week, Nevada pushed past it and took care of business in a big way instead of folding like yours truly predicted. I was very much wrong, and am pleased to have been proven as such. They seem to have put the disappointment of the UNLV game behind them, and the rest of us should (try to) do the same.
- For the first three years of their membership in the Mountain West, the triple option has been to Nevada’s defense what snot is to Kleenex. And any fans who thought New Mexico’s pistol variation of the scheme would continue that trend could have their pessimism be forgiven. In their prior three games against Air Force, for example, the Pack surrendered a tidy average of 45 points per game, and their resistance to the Falcons’ ground attack had all the sturdiness of poster board. But Nevada’s defense well and truly beat the triple option jinx on Saturday. And not just beat it, but kept it in a headlock for most of the afternoon. Just ten points were surrendered instead of the nearly 35 the Lobos had been averaging, along with season lows in three other offensive categories (135 rushing yards, 3.6 yards per carry and 275 yards of total offense). When coupled with an offense operating at nearly peak efficiency — 30 first downs, 6.5 yards per carry and only three incomplete passes — the win was plenty deserved. “Complete domination” is only a slight overstatement. The team is already giving the right answers ahead of their next contest, talking about how they have to "bury this win” like they did with UNLV. But a little bit of enjoyment has been earned all the same.
- Finally, how gratifying was it to see the OTHER team have a goal line fumble at the north end zone for once? The football gods taketh away, but they also giveth. As does Asauni Rufus’ helmet. Also, any of you who’ve resumed sipping the Kool-Aid after Saturday should put down the cup. Yes, the West is still fairly open, and yes, the defense is playing well. But take a cue from the team and don’t look any further ahead than the next game.
- Speaking of which, now an entirely different challenge looms: a road tilt 7,200 feet above sea level against a team with plenty to prove and little to lose. Polian is right when he says there’s talent in them thar hills, specifically with quarterback Cameron Coffman, running back Brian Hill and receiver Tanner Gentry, all of whom rank either first or second in the Mountain West in their respective yards per game. The areas of the Cowboys’ struggles are numerous, though, and include turnovers (a margin of -8 as of last week), stopping the run (second-worst in the conference at 229.5 yards per game), red zone scoring (dead last in the country, with just 12 scores in 22 trips) and concussions (at least six different players have sustained them and missed playing time since the season began). They’re banged up, they’re frustrated, and one of only five winless teams remaining in the FBS. Their luck will likely turn around at some point, and Nevada can’t be the team that helps them do it. While they’re unlikely to repeat their New Mexico performance across the board, things set up nicely for a run-heavy, nothing-too-fancy offensive scheme with some play-action passes thrown in. Never underestimate a head coach with three national titles to his name, as Craig Bohl does. Contrary to their record, Wyoming has played tough for decent stretches, and Nevada has to match and exceed them wherever possible. Preseason prediction: Nevada 27, Wyoming 14. Revised prediction: Nevada 31, Wyoming 20.
- Leave it to this year’s 49ers to find a way to lose in spite of Colin Kaepernick’s drastic improvement from the previous week. My theory of team CEO Jed York being in full-on “don’t give a crap” mode after getting his taxpayer-funded stadium built has yet to be disproven. At least Brandon Marshall and Joel Bitonio are still tearing it up in Denver and Cleveland.
Grand Teton Bitch Creek ESB Ale (Victor, Idaho) ~ A name so fresh it deserves to be slapped. “Wait, don’t you try to tie in your beer with the current week’s opponent?” I can hear none of you asking. I do, thank no one very much, and this week’s offering is from a brewery that started in Wilson, Wyoming before moving just across the border to southeastern Idaho. “ESB” usually stands for “extra special bitter,” and refers to a variation of the British term for what we in the States call a pale ale. Grand Teton, however, tweaked it slightly to “extra special brown,” and named it after a nearby stream originating in the Equality State. Mahogany brown and lightly foamy out of the bottle, it starts off smelling of roasted malts with a hint of lemon. Malts continue in the first half of the taste, while the second half is piney hops with some smoke and bittersweet cocoa. The body is light-medium with light lacing, and finishes with a slightly citrusy zip. The juxtaposition of malts and hops is, in a word, interesting, and probably isn’t for everyone. Imagine a Newcastle Brown Ale with some attitude and a little extra alcohol (6%), and you’ve pretty much summed up Bitch Creek. It’s more approachable than its name suggests, but still a bit of an acquired taste. If you like Newcastle, give it a shot. Otherwise, it’s more likely a hit-or-miss kind of experiment in mixing styles. I give it three tipsy Wolfies out of five.
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