The Bullet Points
- It happened. The string of Senior Day futility was ended, the six-win plateau was reached, and in the final minutes the offense actually…what’s the opposite of “totally blew it”? “Won it”? Yeah, that sounds about right! Five for five on fourth downs — including a pair of big ones on the game-tying drive — two running backs closing in on a thousand yards each, and the late game offense and overtime monkeys finally shed from their backs. It all feels good…I guess. Sorry, this is still more unusual than it should be. Not because it’s been awhile since we could say all of those things, although it has. Things on the football end just feel…incomplete. And to experience that during a three-game winning streak is indicative of missed opportunities and lots of “ifs” and “buts.” With at least one more game in December to (hopefully) look forward to, the team's short-term outlook is a good deal better than it was before. Even that next game at Utah State is looking a little less intimidating (more on that next). But the picture from 30,000 feet hasn’t changed much: when things wrap up, this is still a team that will likely be ascribed the term “underachievers.” And because there are always caveats, enough things still went wrong against the Spartans — hello, Mr. Kenny Potter — to remain wary down the stretch. Be happy for the victorious seniors, and maybe think about setting aside some time to travel to a bowl game, while also accepting that it may be too little too late to make up for their prior missteps.
- There’s more weirdness ahead of this week’s game, as Nevada actually reached bowl eligibility faster than %%MATCH_8%% State, who de-pantsed the Donkeys earlier this year to the delight of all of us. But those same Aggies are barely treading water now, reeling from back-to-back losses to New Mexico (seriously, where’d those guys come from?!) and Air Force after winning 30 games over the previous three seasons. USU finished the season 1-5 in road games, but return home this week, where they’ve won 13 in a row since 2013. They’ve struggled with consistency on both sides of the ball, and from last month to this week, Nevada’s chances of winning this game have gone from “Lloyd Christmas” to “Kinda Sorta Legit (Maybe).” The Aggies are more established at a higher level, have played the tougher schedule, and are right to be favored by double digits, but Nevada can pull out a win if a couple of big goals are met. First, the run is established against a formerly dominant Utah State defense that, while still solid overall, has looked increasingly vulnerable this year. Second, Tyler Stewart and Hasaan Henderson connect early and often for a big joint effort, paying particular attention to what 6’4 Jalen Robinette of the Falcons did last week (7 catches for 210 yards). The upset possibility is certainly there, but I don’t see the Aggies’ current struggles continuing at home. Preseason prediction: Utah State 38, Nevada 24. Revised prediction: Utah State 34, Nevada 26.
- It appears the reports of Nevada basketball’s rebuilding year might have been exaggerated. Let me be clear: it’s three games in, and “might” is still very much the key word there. But look at some of the things they were able to do in Hawai’i and try to tell me they still look like a ninth-place team. In their first two games against Coastal Carolina and Montana State, they yo-yoed between leading and tying before making second half adjustments that eventually buried their opponents. Every player seemed to get their moment to shine, scoring was well distributed, defense was plentiful, and there were dunks! Boy howdy were there dunks. And as for the final late night programming filler against the host Rainbow Warriors, Drew was clearly missed and they came up just short at the very end. Even with that ending, though, viewing this tournament trip as anything but a success is missing perspective. The question now is whether we can raise our expectations for this year’s team, and I say “Maybe a teeny, tiny bit.” In any case, they owe Pacific a few years’ worth of pent-up vengeance on Saturday.
- Finally, our site publisher Frank Meese informed me that “Wolf
Pack All Access” host and friend of the message board Bryan Samudio
used the term “Mussketball” on Sunday night’s show. I have officially
hit the big time, and will now retire to pursue my lifelong dream of
traveling across America in an old, beat-up RV. On a related note, do
any of you have an old, beat-up RV you’d be willing to sell? And by
"sell" I mean "give to me for literally nothing"? I'm saving up for the
inevitable book deal and movie rights.
Wasatch Polygamy Porter (Park City, Utah) ~ Get it? Because Nevada is playing Utah State this week? Polygamy! Har har har. You don’t have to put me in a timeout, because I just put myself in one. And speaking of things that deserve every bit of ridicule they receive, how about the state of Utah’s Ned Flanders-inspired alcohol laws? For beer specifically, anything with more than 4% ABV is considered “liquor,” and can’t be sold in grocery or convenience stores. Throw in “Zion curtains,” measuring spoons for cocktails, and an entire state agency devoted to keeping people from smuggling in booze, and you’ve got yourself The Land The 21st Amendment Forgot. Wasatch tries its best to use the oxymoron of "Utah beer" to their advantage, marketing their flagship with the cheeky slogans “Why have just one?” and “Take some home to the wives!” It pours dark brown with little in the way of head or lacing, and smells of roasted coffee and chocolate are very faint. The taste is mostly chocolate, but watery, light in body, and lacks the range of others in its style. On the upside, the lightly bitter, smokey finish doesn’t offend and, true to its slogan, is well-suited for multiple servings. I didn't think this beer was quite good enough on its own to justify them. There are better offerings from this brewery -- try their Black O'Lantern pumpkin stout -- and there are much better porters out there. Aside from its amusing name and approachability, there’s not much going on here. I give it two and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.
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