The Wolf of Virginia Street ~ Week 12

For the next few weeks, I'll be playing "Good Pack, Bad Pack" with Nevada's two revenue sports in my columns. Take a wild guess as to which team is which.

The Bullet Points

  • But first, football. Yeah, yeah, I know. In Saturday’s 46-16 de-pantsing at the hands of San Diego State — Nevada’s fourth loss in a row and sixth in their last seven games — the only real questions were how many points the Pack would lose by, and how many diehards would stay to the very end. The answer to both questions, it turns out, is “about 30.” For every genuinely good moment — the creative offensive play-calling, some of Gangi’s long completions, the blocked extra point return — there were eight or nine plays showing just how outclassed the home team hopelessly remained. Donnel Pumphrey was as good as advertised, but as several fans pointed out to me while we made a hasty retreat home in the third quarter, he had a big assist from Nevada’s defense. The Aztecs ran over, under, around and through the Pack, and no amount of healed up injuries would’ve made a difference. It’s a special kind of desperation when a team’s beat writer can type out the sentence “If you thought Nevada was going to win this game, you were insane,” and your mental response is “Yeah, that’s about right.”

  • We’re way past the point of being surprised at how bad this football team is. But I still wonder how many more times record books will have to be updated in order to properly contextualize just how bad they are? You have to go back to the nearly snowed out game against Boise State in 2004 to find a time when the Pack was this much of an underdog at home. You have to go back only two fewer years — the Broncos’ Fiesta Bowl-clinching win in 2006 — to find a home loss with a margin of defeat as big as this one. But let’s really get in to the weeds here. The Aztecs finished Saturday night with 474 rushing yards from four different players. It beat their previous program record from 50 years ago, a 45-0 win over a team known as “Mexico Poly.” There is, in fact, American college football still being played in Mexico, and in the three games the White Eagles (“Àguilas Blancas,” if you want to be proper) played against American teams that year, they were outscored 144 to 8. If seeing the Aztecs average 11 yards a carry doesn’t drive home just how pathetic that defensive performance was, maybe an introductory course on Mexican college football will. That’s the historical company the Pack find themselves in currently, and they’re lucky that so many of us have stopped caring altogether.

  • With bowl eligibility (mostly) off the table at this point, the team finds itself in full-on “screw it” mode for one last home game against Utah State. And also being losers of six of their last seven, the Aggies will probably be in a similar mindset for what's shaping up to be a real bounce house slugfest. Even with both teams sitting at 3-7, it’s pretty clear Utah State is the modestly better team, having played their tougher Mountain division foes closer than Nevada has played their weak West division mates. You know what I’m looking forward the most to in this game? The annual Silver and Blue Outfitters chili cook-off. And thanking the seniors of Nevada football. But also the chili. So “Hurray!” for chili followed by football with 12,000 (maybe) of your closest, most masochistic friends. Pre-season prediction: Utah State 31, Nevada 30. New prediction: Utah State 37, Nevada 30.

  • Even basketball couldn’t fully pull us out of a mid-November funk, dropping their season-opening game at Saint Mary’s by 18 points. Jock Landale showed the Pack that all the athleticism in the world doesn’t amount to much if you aren’t able to actually leap up and stop a 6’11” flag pole from lofting the ball into the hoop over and over agin. But against Loyola Marymount three days later, they managed to right the ship…mostly. Elijah Foster notched his first career double-double, while Marcus Marshall chipped in his own 18 points, and Lindsey Drew and Devearl Ramsey were assist machines. Where Saint Mary’s was a disappointing boat race at the hands of what will probably be a great team, LMU was a better all-around effort with a few stubborn warts still showing through.

  • After a brief rest, the Fightin' Musselmans return to action this weekend, with two more home games against Oregon State and Iona before their Thanksgiving trip to the Great Alaska Shootout. While the Beavers and Gaels still boast some impressive talent on their respective rosters, they’ve each lost some key pieces from teams that both played in the NCAA Tournament last year. It’s for this reason that I don’t think beating one or both of them would be on quite the same level of, say, finally beating the Aztecs. At least, not until we know more about how good these next two teams and Nevada actually are. Getting them both at home, however, is still a great opportunity for the Pack to build up their early non-conference resume. At this early stage, I’ll say Nevada barely loses a heartbreaker to Oregon State before storming back to trounce jet-lagged Iona two days later, but they could just as easily win them both.

The Beer

Deschutes Hopzeit Autumn IPA (Bend, Oregon) ~ Normally, I tie the beers into the football opponent of the week, but I don’t have anything for Utah State. And given that we’re ready to fully move on to basketball, anyway, surely you folks wouldn’t mind if I did the same here, would you? I thought as much. So for the visiting Beavers, we’ve got a seasonal from Oregon at the tail end (see what I did there?!) of its availability in stores. It poured copper-orange with less of a head than I was hoping for, and didn’t leave much in the way of lacing in the glass. Smelling of piney hops and a little caramel malt, those continued in the medium-bodied taste, along with some citrusy hops and sweeter malts. A lightly bitter finish wraps it all up. Deschutes fancies Hopzeit as a kind of IPA/Oktoberfest hybrid, and while I love both styles separately, it didn’t quite fully work for me as one beer. It’s not bad by any stretch, and blending different styles in new ways should be encouraged more, but I found myself slightly missing a good ol’ fashioned Fresh Squeezed by itself. I give it three tipsy Wolfies out of five.

All fan mail (burning or otherwise) can be sent to:

Andrew Maurins
c/o North RV Lot
Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557

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