Monday, October 31, 2005
Wendell Mathis is one of five nominees of USA Today's College Football Player of the Week. Voting will continue throughout today and the winner will be announced Tuesday, you can vote for Mathis here.
Vince Young's monster game will be hard to overcome, but Mathis' performance deserves some national hype.
The nominees (from USA Today.com)
This week's nominees:
The Iowa State receiver caught eight passes for 214 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Cyclones' 42-14 win at Texas A&M. He scored on Iowa State's opening drive on the way to setting the school record for most touchdowns in a game.
The Wisconsin running back ran for 197 yards and five touchdowns in the Badgers' 41-24 win at Illinois. He tied the school record for touchdowns in a game he already shared with two other players.
The Fresno State running back dashed for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 27-13 win at Hawaii. It was his 78-yard run for a score in the fourth quarter that iced the game to keep Fresno State tied atop the WAC with Boise State.
The Texas Tech safety powered the Red Raiders' 28-0 win at Baylor with 18 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack. He led a Texas Tech defense that recorded its first shutout since 2002.
The Texas quarterback accounted for 506 total yards of offense and four touchdowns — two passing and two rushing in the Longhorns' 47-28 win at Oklahoma State. It was his 80-yard scramble for a score that began Texas' second-half comeback from 19 points down.
The Bulldogs are ranked for the first time ever in the Bowl Championship Series Rankings (PDF)at No. 24. Fresno State still is getting no love from the computers, only one computer poll(Wolfe) had the Bulldogs among its top 25 teams. Leaving the Bulldogs unranked in the average computer rankings. However, of the six computer rankings used, the highest and lowest are thrown out.
Oklahoma comes in at 25th in the BCS rankings despite being 32nd in the polls, but a remarkable 21st in the average computer rankings. I thought the polls were the overwhelming factor in the BCS rankings?
Besides the Bulldogs, only No. 23 Cal and No. 20 Auburn were unranked in the average computer rankings and received only one ranking among the six computers, as well.
After posting a career high of 229 yards rushing, and 3 touchdowns, Wendell Mathis was named Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
Crenshaw High School senior Tyquan Knox is flying under the radar among top recruits in the California. UCLA is still his favorite, but Fresno State might sneak in and land the receiver/defensive back.
Knox out played hotshot receiver prospect Jamere Holland of Taft in the season opener, but still is not getting the hype of other top California prospects. That is better for Fresno State. Knox has stated on numerous occasions that he would commit to UCLA if they offered.
"UCLA is still my leader. If they offered, I'd basically commit, but then I'd like to take some visits," he said.
"They are just a good school and I have a lot of boys up there."
He has a tentatively scheduled visit to Fresno State in early January, and according to Scout.com, Knox has only received two offers.
"I got offered by Washington just recently and Arizona offered me a long time ago. Fresno State is going to offer me soon," said Knox.
"I'm still really waiting for UCLA to offer me."
Knox is a hard nosed player in the mold of a typical Pat Hill recruit, but better. One reason he is flying under rader is because of all the hype surrounding teammate Darian Hagan Jr.
Hagan is the son of former Colorado All-American quarterback of the same name, and is one of the top recruits in the country.
If the video does not load up the direct link is here.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Fresno State moved up two spots to No. 22 in the latest USA Today Poll. TCU is still the only other non-BCS school ranked. The Horned Frogs stayed at 20th spot despite their closer than expected 23-20 win at San Diego State.
UTEP got the highest amount of others receiving votes, 30, of non-BCS schools. Boise State fresh of its 49-14 blow out win over Nevada got 12 votes, and Toledo got none after their 21-17 loss to Central Michigan.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
It did look good until Tyrone Culver knocked down a 4th down pass at the goal line with under 3 minutes to play in the game. The defense and special teams came through once again, but the player of the game was Wendell Mathis.
Pat Hill gets his first win at Hawaii, and Fresno State matches their best start in his tenure at 6-1. Fresno State is 4-0 in the Western Athletic Conference play for the first time ever.
Fresno struck first with a 58 yard pass to Jermaine Jamison, and never trailed in the game. Hawaii was able to move the ball up and down the field, but only scored one touchdown and two field goals.
Hawaii incompleted a pass on a fake field goal on its first drive, and had another kick blocked just before halftime.
Hawaii's biggest accomplishment of the day was a 14 yard punt return, the longest against Fresno State in two years.
The fake field does not work, and Bulldog ball.
Tyrone Culver injured, got up , but could be a sprained knee. Not a good sign if he does not come back in the game. Vince Mays needs to step if called upon.
Back to the game, Hawaii is just driving and making the 'Dogs defense look bad, but the same thing happened last week against Idaho.
USC started slow on the Island and still won 63-17.
Woodard has a been a great radio voice for the 'Dogs, but maybe his time has come. :44 seconds left in the USC game, it is time.
TIME/SITE: 1:00 p.m. (HT); Honolulu, Hawaii; Aloha Stadium (50,000/FieldTurf)
TELEVISION: ABC; Betsy Grant, Terry Gannon, Jamal Anderson, Dave LaMont/ESPN GamePlan
SERIES LOOK: Fresno State leads the series 19-17-1 after winning last year at home, 70-14. Hawaii's last win was in 2003, 55-28, in Honolulu, its third straight victory in the series.
COACHES: Fresno State's Pat Hill is in his ninth season as a head coach and has a record of 69-39. Hawaiis June Jones is in his seventh season with the Warriors and has a record of 51-34.
GAME NOTES: Fresno State-has a four-game winning streak and has won eight consecutive WAC games ... has won 11 of its last 12 games ... has recorded a safety in two straight games ... is leading its opponents in punt return yards, 440-3 ... has lost its last five games at Hawaii ... leads the nation in third down conversion percentage (52.6) ... Paul Pinegar has thrown a touchdown pass in 15 straight games. Hawaii- QB Colt Brennan has thrown for 972 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last two games ... freshman WR Ryan Grice-Mullen has scored nine touchdowns over the last four games ... has had three receivers reach the 100-yard mark in two straight games ... plays four of its last five games at home. -Wacsports.com
Is it already the last weekend of October? Fresno State is still unbeaten in October with a record of 3-0. Is it possible for the Bulldogs to finish October without a loss for the first in the Pat Hill era?
The football gawds are not going to let it be that easy. In order for Fresno State to have an unblemished October, they must win at Hawaii. Yes, Aloha Stadium, a venue the Bulldogs have only won once ever in 9 tries over the course of 21 years.
One thing is on Hill and Fresno State's side. This is the best Bulldog football team ever. If Fresno State does not come away with a win today; then the 'Dogs just may be cursed on the Island.
Aloha Stadium might not be as intimidating as in the past years Hill has visited the Island. Just over 27,000 tickets have been distributed. Is the game a rivalry if it is played in front empty5,000 empy seats? That is the question posed in the Honolulu Star Bulletin's game preview.
The paper goes on to name a few reasons for the lack of ticket sales.
An ABC telecast gives everyone in Hawaii a chance to watch on free TV.
Last year's 70-14 butt-whipping by the Bulldogs mdeterrenta deterant, Hawaii fans do not want to relive another blow out.
My favorite is...
In Hawaii Saturday nights are for football, mornings are for yardwork and golf. It is hard to tailgate with a 1:00 pm local kickoff time.
I like those excuses better than the usual Bulldog fan excuses about daytime kickoffs. Bulldog fans always complain day kickoffs interfere with their kids soccer games. WTF? You don't hear Pat Hill complain about Friday night kickoffs, when his kid is playing high school football. Hill has as much control as anyone to choose not to play weekday games, but his priority is the football program.
NCAA 06 PREDICTION
According to Sony Playstation's NCAA 06 the Bultheir end thier struggles at Aloha Stadium with a 52-31 win.
Adam Jennings has a career day catching 3 balls for 116 yards including a 84 yard touchdown reception. Jennings also returns a punt 51 yards for a touchdown, helping build a 31-14 Fresno State halftime lead.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Name the five teams, other than yours, whose accomplishments you respect / envy the most. Use whatever criteria you feel is appropriate (wins, titles, consistency, academic integrity, competitive integrity, NCAA violations, general thuggery, mascot intimidation factor ...). Fresno State was one of the schools he named, and he is a Virginia Wahoo fan.
- One of the ultimate "it's funny to me" moments of college was seeing a couple of SAE's and PIKA's going at it outside Coupe's, a scuffle likely brought on by a heated argument over which house does a better job of acting like they're from Mississippi instead of, say, Bethesda or Cobb County. Anyways, amongst the ruckus, a cry rises above the fray: "MY NORTH FACE!" Fight over.
You see, a lot of frat guys like to talk about how they like to throwdown, but that needs to be tempered a bit: they like throwing down with other frat guys. Preferably at their own house. Trust me, it's a lot easier to be a dick at the party entrance when you know 30 of your brothers are looking to knee the guy when he's on the ground. Otherwise, you might get a scramble, but it's over when the first frat pelt gets ripped.
But this much is true: no frat guy wants to fight a townie. It doesn't matter whether they're short or tall, fat or an obvious meth-head, or even a female; you simply don't know what they're capable of, and they fucking hate you. Although he may have a Trout Unlimited sticker on his 4Runner, you can be fairly certain Tad Chesterton IV isn't packing a Bowie knife. But that guy who spilled his Nantucket Nectar on your Patagonia outside of the White Spot? You'd rather not find out the hard way.
Anyways, Fresno is like the townie of college football: you might think about trading blows with them, but eventually someone busts in with the "it's not worth it, MAN!" Most mid-major schools rise to prominence either by way of a bizarre offensive scheme or a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Fresno just wants to beat the shit out of you with a bunch of fat Samoans and JUCO guys. They'd probably challenge Notre Dame to a game in a Long John Silver's parking lot and call 'em a bunch of flamers if they turned it down.
I don't know if this should be taken as an insult or a compliment. Anyways, Bulldog fans we at least know there are few fat Samoans or JUCO's on the team, but Pat Hill and the boys would love to beat the shit out of Notre Dame in a Long John Silver's parking lot.
and check the link at the top to Sexy Results and read the comments at the bottom of the post.........is Pat Hill the Suge Knight of college football?
Just don't think evil thoughts about either one.
Did you think I could go the whole week without mentioning Jerry Glanville. June Jones, being a former NFL coach, dug deep into his pool of former NFL colleagues to find a suitable candidate to revamp his struggling Hawaii defense.
The Warriors were beaten up by a combined 139-17 by WAC powers Boise State and Fresno State last year. Boise State's quarterback Jared Zabransky ran 85 yards for a touchdown in last year's game. Fresno State set a team record with 503 yards rushing in last year's, 70-14, win over Hawaii.
Glanville's mission for 2005 as the new defensive coordinator, turn around a defense that allowed 252.6 yards rushing per game, good enough to rank last in the nation. Hawaii in fact ranked 116th out of 117 teams last year in total defense.
So how has the man in black fared in 2005 thus far? Hawaii is giving up 178.3 yards per game on the ground to rank 90th in the nation. The Warriors have even improved in total defense giving up just 429.83 yards a game, good enough to rank 97th.
To his credit Hawaii has faced two of of the top three offenses in the country, Southern Cal and Michigan State. However, New Mexico State went nuts on the Warriors, too.
With Jones, Glanville and running backs coach Mouse Davis, the architect of the Run-n-Shoot offense, Hawaii boasts a very impressive coaching staff. Glanville's hiring has yet to pay off, and with Fresno State, Nevada, Wisconsin, and San Diego State still left on the schedule the statistics could end up being worse than last year.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
as posted on the Barkboard
What is it about the Island of Oahu and 50,000 seat Aloha Stadium? Fresno State has had the worst luck playing the Hawaii Warriors in that venue. Is it some kind of island voodoo? In fact, the Bulldogs have won only once there, and that was back in 1994. The 1994 team led by sophomore quarterback Richie Donati was one of the worst to ever play in Aloha Stadium.
How did Donati pull out a win when such great Bulldog quarterbacks Kevin Sweeney, Trent Dilfer, Billy Volek, David Carr, and Paul Pinegar have all failed?
In 1984 sophomore sensation Kevin Sweeney led Fresno State into Aloha Stadium. The Bulldogs had won at Arizona to open the season, 27-22, and were 5-0 heading into the game against the Rainbow Warriors. It was the first Bulldog team to play Hawaii at their new home, and the hometown ‘Bows were a dismal 1-3. Hawaii won the game and went on to finish 7-5, while Fresno State won only once more and finished a disappointing 6-6.
Fast forward to 1986, Sweeney’s senior year, and the outcome was not much different. This time Fresno State was 8-1 and on the verge of Freedom Bowl berth, if they could finish out the season 10-1. Sweeney was in striking distance of Doug Flutie’s NCAA career passing record that November day, but he would not break the record nor win the game. The Bulldogs lost, 24-13, despite having one of the most talented teams in Bulldog history.
Fresno State would not make another trip to Hawaii until 1992, as a first year member of the Western Athletic Conference. Trent Dilfer and the Bulldogs were 3-3 and 1-1 in conference. The 47-45 loss dropped Fresno State below .500 for the first time since the 1987 season. The Bulldogs went on to win their last six games including a share of the WAC title, but the two point loss cost them an outright conference title.
Following the 31-16 win in 1994, Fresno State made a second straight trip across the Pacific in 1995. Donati lost his starting job to hot shot junior college transfer Jim Arellanes that year, but Arellanes could not duplicate Donati’s success, losing a close 42-37 shootout. The loss kept the Bulldogs below .500 for the second straight year.
Former head coach Jim Sweeney had a horrible 1-4 record in his five appearances at Aloha Stadium. Pat Hill has not faired much better.
Hill has never won at Hawaii. He is 0-4 as head coach and in three of his four trips there; he has walked into Aloha Stadium with the better team, but came away a loser. The last trip to the Island is forgettable. Paul Pinegar was making his first start of 2003 after suffering a pectoral muscle in preseason practice. The Warriors pummeled Pinegar and the Bulldogs, 55-28.
Getting blown out was not the case in 1997, 1999, and 2001. There was much on the line in those years, and all three were tough losses for the more talented Bulldogs.
The 28-16 loss in 1997 to eventual 3-9 Hawaii was sandwiched in between huge wins over conference favorite Utah and undefeated 17th ranked Air Force. What happened at Aloha Stadium that Saturday? Was it island voodoo? Whatever it was, it kept Hill from a having a winning season in his first year as head coach.
In 1999, with an outright WAC title on the line, but Jeff Hanna missed a 57 yard field goal at the end of regulation. The game went into overtime, and both teams made a field goal in the first overtime. But Fresno State failed to score in the second overtime and Hawaii pulled out a 31-24 win.
The most heartbreaking game was the 38-34 loss in 2001. Nick Rolovich went nuts and outshined Heisman hopeful David Carr despite a career high 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. All-American Ashley Lelie caught the game winner with 13 seconds left in the game. Hawaii’s improbable fourth quarter comeback was aided by two Fresno State fumbles; they were only the second and third lost fumbles of the season for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs are not only playing against Hawaii this Saturday, but are playing against history, as well. Since the 2001 game the rivalry has grown into a brutal hate fest. It just might be the most underrated rivalry in the entire country. What other rivalry has tales of island voodoo, trashed planes, and thrown screwdrivers?
Fresno State is a -13 point favorite for this weekend’s contest. The 18th ranked Bulldogs of 2001 were only -6.5 point favorites. Is Fresno State that much better than Hawaii this year or are the Warriors just not as good as in years past? Fresno State is that good, and Hawaii is not.
The Bulldogs annihilated Hawaii last year 70-14 and it was not even that close. The blow out win ended a three game winning streak by the Warriors. Hawaii had NCAA career passing leader Timmy Chang last year, but this year junior college transfer Colt Brennan is behind center. That may not be such a bad thing, considering how awful Chang played last year.
“He's [Brennan] where I thought he would be with the offense,” Hawaii coach June Jones said.
“He's more accurate than I thought he was coming in. He has the ability to avoid which you can't coach. We have everything in the playbook, so he just needs to execute it. But he will as he keeps doing things over and over everyday. He's a fun one to coach."
With Brennan leading the way, Hawaii is second in the nation in passing offense averaging a staggering 382.3 yards per game. He was named WAC Offensive Player of the Week after the 49-28 win over New Mexico State, and last week connected on 36-48 passes for 457 yards and three scores against San Jose State.
For the second week in a row Hawaii had three different receivers with at least 100 yards. Jones’ offense dictates those types of numbers, but the ground game is what suffers. The Warriors average only 73 yards a game on the ground, and rank 115th out of 119 teams.
Defensively, Hawaii is giving up 430.1 yards and 37.7 points per game. Hawaii will load up to try to stop the Fresno State ground game, but Pinegar should be able to pick apart a pass defense that is allowing 251.9 yards per game.
“Fresno State wants to pound you and I'm sure they will come in here and do that so we're going to have to stop the run,” said Jones.
“If they beat us passing, then they beat us passing, that's the way it goes, but they're going to want to run the ball and they're not going to change their mentality for this game. We just need to do our assignments and do what we're supposed to do and make the tackles when you're the guy in the hole.”
The outcome of Saturday’s game is going to come down to the performance of the Fresno State offense. The defense and special teams have been so dominant the last four games. The offense has not had to do much in the blow out wins. Eventually, the defense and special teams are going to have an off day. With the bad history on the Island, that day could be this Saturday.
This year’s Bulldogs appear to be mentally stronger than any team in the Hill era. The mystery of the Island should not faze them. Defensively, the Bulldogs have few peers; they rank in top 20 in rushing and scoring defense. Since the loss at Oregon, Fresno State has shut down every team’s respective offense with ease.
“It's going to be a real test for us, especially on offense because, to me, it will be the best defense we've played against, and that includes USC,” Jones said.
“They are very good, very physical and they can all run.”
Hawaii’s offense will be a huge test for the Bulldogs, as well. This game is the springboard for the rest of the season. A win will give Fresno State an unblemished October for the first time in the Hill era. As well, it will give the Bulldogs an unprecedented 4-0 start in WAC play.
A loss, however, will certainly have a negative effect on the rest of the season. Not only will the Bulldogs fall from the national rankings, but late season games against Boise State and USC could become lackluster affairs.
In any other year I would say the game could go either way, but this team is unlike any other in the Pat Hill era. Pinegar duplicates Donati’s success of 11 years ago, and the Bulldogs pull out the huge win. With the stories of island voodoo, trashed planes and thrown screwdrivers aside, my fearless prediction is, Fresno State 44, Hawaii 24.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Fresno State and Hawaii just hate each other (article from 2003). This game has become such a great rivalry (from 2004) and deserves more national recognition. The rivalry has picked up some steam in recent years, but its roots go back to the 1930's and the hate gained momentum on the basketball courts during the 1990's.
After the 16 team Western Athletic Conference split in 1999, Fresno State and Hawaii remained from the original 10 team WAC. In 1999 the two battled in double overtime to determine the conference champ, but in 2001 Hawaii turned this game into a hated rivalry.
The Jerry Tarkanian Fresno State basketball team of the late '90s were always hated by Hawaii fans and that hate soon transferred over to the football field. 18th ranked Fresno State and David Carr strolled into Aloha Stadium on October 26, 2001 as -6.5 favorites, and left 4 point losers. Hawaii rallied for 22 points in the final quarter for the come from behind win.
The media added insult to injury, by writing a story about the Fresno State Football team trashing the charter plane from Hawaii. The following year Hawaii came to Fresno and won for the first time ever at Bulldog Stadium. The Warriors, again, came from behind to win in the fourth quarter.
Then came the mysterious screwdriver. Hawaii coach June Jones claimed that someone from the hostile Fresno State student section chucked a screwdriver from the stands during the Warriors comeback win. Later, several sources said it fell from a Hawaii team manager's belt.
Did Fresno State trash the charter plan? Did a Bulldog fan really throw a screwdriver? Does it really matter, a rivalry was born. Hawaii whipped up on Fresno State on the Island in 2003, 55-28, but the Bulldogs returned the favor last year with an absolute 70-14 massacre.
For everyone on the West Coast I invite you to tune in this Saturday on ABC, after the USC game, to watch the Most Underrated Rivalry in the Country at 4pm Pacific Time. For everyone else in the country you must have access to ESPN Gameplan to watch the game.
Some of you may doubt the truth of the "hate" in this rivalry. That's fine, but the next time you are visiting or vacationing in Hawaii, I encourage you to wear a Fresno State T-Shirt or hat and wait and see what happens. The hate between these schools is felt, even more, off the playing field.
Four years ago on this day, the Bulldogs suffered their most heartbreaking loss, ever, on the Island.
On Friday October 26, 2001, the 18th ranked Bulldogs went into Aloha Stadium fresh off their upset loss at home versus Boise State. Fresno State still controlled their own destiny to at least tie for a Western Athletic Conference title. The Bulldogs also still had the opportunity to have the best season in the history of the program.
With a 6-1 record, a national ranking, and with five games still left on the schedule, Fresno State had a great chance to finish in the top ten to end the season. Any shot at a Bowl Championship Series bowl game was gone, after the loss to the Broncos the week before.
The Bulldogs run game never got going rushing for only 68 yards on 33 attempts, but David Carr passed for a career high 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was not enough as Hawaii rallied for 22 fourth quarter points, aided by two Fresno State fumbles, for the 38-34 come from behind win.
Fresno State jumped out to a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter on a 8 yard touchdown pass from Carr to Charles Smith and a 35 yard field goal by Asen Asparuhov. Hawaii answered back with two Justin Ayat field goals. Carr added a 27 yard touchdown pass to Smith to build a commanding 17-6 lead with 10:07 left in the half.
Hawaii would answer with a 3 yard touchdown reception by Ashley Lelie to cut the lead to 6. Fresno State drove into field goal range and Asparuhov kicked a 35 yarder as time expired to gain the momentum heading into halftime.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum into the third quarter with David Shabaglian's 10 yard touchdown catch from Carr. Hawaii answered with another Ayat field goal, but the Bulldogs looked to be in control going into the final quarter of play leading 27-16.
Then all hell broke loose. Hawaii's quarterback Nick Rolovich, playing for the injured Timmy Chang, took over the game. His first of three fourth quarter touchdown passes pulled the Warriors with three, 27-24, after they successfully converted the two point conversion.
Then the first of two costly Bulldog fumbles occurred. Fresno State was about to add to their lead when the Bulldogs botched the center-quarterback exchange at the Warrior's 3 yard line. Hawaii would drive the length of the field for the go ahead score on Rolovich's second touchdown pass.
Carr and company fought back and answered the Warriors fury. Carr hit Rodney Wright on a 35 touchdown pass, and Fresno State took the lead, 34-31, with just under five minutes to play in the game.
The Bulldogs continued their late game perseverance by forcing the Warriors into a three-and-out, and got the ball back on their own 38 yard line with 3:22 to play. Then the unthinkable happened.
After Paris Gaines was stuffed for no gain on first down, Fresno State was forced into a passing situation on second down. Carr dropped back to pass and was hit from the blind side and fumbled the ball. Hawaii recovered, and drove down the field for winning score with :13 left in the game on a 13 yard touchdown pass from Rolovich to Lelie.
Freshman All-American Logan Mankins allowed only two sacks in 2001, but only one is remembered by Bulldog fans. His missed block was just one of few mistakes he would make in his historic career as a Bulldog. Mankins can not be blamed fully. If Fresno State had any sort of run game, the Bulldogs would not have been forced to pass in that situation.
For those who believe the 2001 Bulldog team was the best ever just have to look at this game. The 2005 Bulldogs are a complete team with a balanced offensive attack, an aggressive defense, and dominant special teams. The 2001 version had a great passing attack with Carr and a plethora of receivers, but could not run the ball when they had to.
The 2005 version would beat the 2001 team on any given day and twice on Sunday. The 2005 team will also do what few Bulldog teams have ever done. They will win on the Island.
Is the range of back up kicker Kyle Zimmerman, and just might have to do this Saturday at Hawaii. Clint Stitser's status is up in the air, and might not play against Hawaii.
As long as Fresno State scores touchdowns, instead of field goals, it shouldn't make a big difference. Zimmerman's two kickoffs in the fourth quarter at Idaho looked decent, and he made his two PAT attempts.
If the Bulldogs are in a close game with Warriors, Stitser's leg strength is a big advantage. Otherwise, Fresno State will be fine with either kicker.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Fresno State has always had great success at Bulldog Stadium against the team formally known as the Rainbow Warriors, losing only once. Even the 1996 4-7 team, arguably the worst in Bulldog Stadium history was able to beat the 'Bows.
Hawaii officially changed its nickname in 1999 to just Warriors, minus the Rainbow. The University felt that the name Rainbows was too closely related to the symbol of Homosexuality. Since the name change Fresno State has was only won twice, both in Fresno. While Hawaii has won four, including three in a row from 2001-03.The Bulldogs just suck on the Island, and that trend has to change this weekend if the Bulldogs have any hopes of winning an outright WAC title and finishing the season ranked in the top 25.
This year's team is unlike any other Bulldog team to play at Aloha Stadium. It is better than the 2001 David Carr led team that lost 38-34 to Hawaii, and better than the 1993 Trent Dilfer led team that lost in the Aloha Bowl to Colorado, 41-30.
After three straight weeks of games against Sun Belt defects, Fresno State has a game with some meaning. Granted 3-4 (3-2) Hawaii is not having its best year, but the Warriors and Bulldogs absolutely hate each other. This game has become a great rivalry.
Fresno State has only won once on the at Hawaii since moving to Division I-A in 1969, and that was 11 years ago. Fresno State and Hawaii have had some memorable games, but the Warriors have usually come away with the upper hand. The Warriors spoiled Fresno State's perfect season in 1985 with a 24-24 tie at Bulldog Stadium and denied the Bulldogs chances at outright Western Athletic Conference titles with wins in on the Island in 1992 and 1999.
Fresno State's lone win at Hawaii, as a WAC member, back in 1994 was a mild upset. Hawaii was 2-1 with big wins over eventual Pac 10 champ Oregon and at Cal. Their only loss was a 13-12 loss to BYU. Fresno State was suffering A.D., after [Trent] Dilfer. The Bulldogs were 2-2. They were blown out by Ohio State and Washington State and had wins over two terrible teams, San Jose State and Oregon State.
Somehow, behind the arm of quarterback Richie Donati, Fresno State won 31-16. Donati did what Dilfer nor Kevin Sweeney could accomplish, win at Aloha Stadium. Since, Bulldog quarterbacks Billy Volek (twice), David Carr, and Paul Pinegar have all fallen short of a win at Hawaii.
Pinegar gets another shot against Hawaii on the road this weekend. Sweeney and Volek each failed in their second games at Hawaii. Fresno State enters this Saturday's game with a lot on the line. Like Pinegar, Sweeney and Volek's second game on the Island was huge and had bowl implications.
Sweeney lost his first game at Hawaii in 1984, but marched into Aloha Stadium on November 15, 1986 within striking distance of Doug Flutie's NCAA career passing record. The Bulldogs were 8-1 and were in consideration for an at-large berth into the Freedom Bowl if they finished the season 10-1. Hawaii was 5-3, but were an underdog at home. The Bulldogs lost the game 24-13, and their shot at a bowl game.
Volek lost his first game on the Island, as well, in 1997, but the second loss in 1999 cost Fresno State an outright WAC title. The 7-3 Bulldogs were on a 3 game winning streak, but Jeff Hanna missed a 57 yard field goal at the end of regulation and the game went into overtime. Fresno State could not pull out the win and lost in double overtime, 31-24.
Hopefully, Pinegar can erased the memories of past failures this Saturday. His first game at Aloha Stadium was a forgettable 55-28 beating.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Unranked BCS schools Colorado and Michigan were 24th and 25th, respectively, in the BCS standings.
I have updated my bowl predictions on MDG CFB, and I project Fresno State in the Houston Bowl opposite Nebraska.
Other bowls that are possible, besides the WAC tie-ins MPC and Hawaii, are: Independence vs Missouri, Poinsettia vs Utah, Fort Worth vs Houston, Music City vs Iowa.
These are just projections, but the outlandish scenario I see possible for the Bulldogs is the Insight Bowl in Phoenix. The Insight pairs the Pac 10's 4th place team vs the Big East's 3rd.
Right now I project the Big East to have only 3 bowl eligible teams to fill 4 bowl commitments. Notre Dame is considered a Big East team for bowl selection, but I project the Irish to be in the BCS. Notre Dame must win out in order for the Insight scenario to pan out.
West Virginia as BE champ will be in the BCS, Louisville will play in the Gator as the BE 2nd place team, leaving 3rd place Rutgers to travel cross country to play in Phoenix. The 4th bowl in Charlotte will be left open if Pitt, USF or UConn can not win at least six games. It is a good possibility that it will not happen.
The Big East might entertain the thought of placing Rutgers in the Mieneke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte for increase ticket sales and travel reasons, and sell off their spot in the Insight. The New Jersey school has only played in bowl game in their history, the Garden State Bowl back in 1978 and that was played at Giants Stadium.
Fresno State would be an excellent choice opposite a Pac 10 team. Bulldog fans will travel to Phoenix in the tens of thousands to see Fresno State play a Cal, Oregon State, Stanford, or even a rematch with a Kellen Clemons less Oregon.
I doubt it will happen, but I have seen crazier things happen.
The BCS rankings will be released later today. Fresno State has never been ranked in the BCS standings since its inception in 1998. However, Fresno State was ranked in the BCS top 25 back in 2001, but the BCS only released the top 15 officially back then.
What will hurt the Bulldogs is the computers. Since the formula's must exclude margin of victory, Fresno State is at a disadvantage. For example, Jeff Sargarin has the Bulldogs ranked 28th in his latest ratings, but only 35th in the Elo-Chess, which is used for the BCS.
The Elo-Chess ratings are Sagarin's ratings minus margin of victory.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
It is a sign of a great team when they can win by thirty when the offense just does not show up. Special teams and defense shined Saturday in the Western Athletic Conference road win.
Joe Fernandez returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown to tie the score up at seven in the first quarter. Jaron Fairmon returned an illegal punt kick for another touchdown, and Manuel Sanchez recorded a safety, as the Bulldogs took a less than stellar 16-10 lead at the half.
The offense still did not get on track in the third quarter, but the defense held Idaho scoreless the entire second half. Paul Williams blocked a punt that set up a Paul Pinegar touchdown pass to Devyn McDonald. It was Pinegar's only touchdown pass of the game, but he did pass David Carr in career passing yards. He is now third on Fresno State's list of career passing leaders, behind Mark Barsotti and Kevin Sweeney.
Wendell Mathis put the game away with his 58 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and Bryson Sumlin added a two yard touchdown run to end the scoring.
The offense needs to play better next week and beyond. In past years Fresno State would have lost this game or barely escaped with a nine or ten point win, see at SMU 1999 and 2003. The offense just has not have to contribute much this year for the team to pull out wins.
In the five Bulldog victories, the defense and special teams have been so dominate, the offense is playing second fiddle. Many fans will be disgusted with the offensive play, but the Bulldogs still blew out their opponent, and even covered the spread.
Kicker Clint Stitser hurt his leg on a kickoff, and did not return. Kyle Zimmerman kicked Fresno State's last two PATs and kickoffs.
Softball coach Margie Wright pulled the save of the year. The Fresno State football team usually wears medium length blacks socks for home and away. For the game on the old school Astro Turf in Moscow, the team wanted long socks.
Nike was unable to provide the socks soon enough. So, Wright provided 68 pairs of long white socks for Pat Hill's team.
The long socks help prevent against "rug" burns that are a common occurrence on Astro Turf.
Wendell Mathis fumbles a pitch and Idaho recovers. My guess Idaho will go up 14-0 and Fresno State will be held scoreless in the first quarter.
Fresno State (4-1/2-0) at Idaho (1-5/1-2)
TIME/SITE: 2:00 p.m. (PT); Moscow, Idaho; Kibbie Dome (16,000/Artificial Turf)TELEVISION: KFRE (Fresno); Ralph Wood, Randy Rosenbloom
SERIES LOOK: Idaho leads the series 4-3. The teams last met in 1979 when Fresno State won 30-10, in Fresno.
COACHES: Fresno State's Pat Hill is in his ninth season as a head coach and has a record of 68-39. Idaho's Nick Holt is in his second year with the Vandals and has a record of 4-14.
GAME NOTES: Fresno State- has won seven straight conference games ... has converted 54.0 percent of its third downs, the best percentage in the nation ... Paul Pinegar has thrown a touchdown pass in 14 straight games and at least two in the last eight contests ... Pinegar leads the WAC in passing efficiency (164.7 rating) ... senior RB Wendell Mathis leads the WAC with eight touchdowns scored ... has allowed just four sacks this season ... plays four of its next six games on the road ... leads the WAC in rushing defense. Idaho- junior Daniel Smith is second in the WAC in both receiving yards (86.8) and receptions (6.6) per game ... senior LB Cole Snyder is second in the WAC and ninth nationally in tackles with 12.3 per game ... is second to last in the nation in rushing offense. -from wacsports.com
First point I want to point before I go any further, is my error written in previous posts and preview article. I previously wrote Fresno State lost in its only visit to the Kibbie Dome, 30-10, and Fresno State won in Fresno the next year, 41-28. Actually, Fresno State won both the games, 41-28 in 1978 in Moscow and 30-10 in Fresno the following year.
WTF? That's what happens when you try to write after five shots of Patron. I can not believe I made the error, oh well. I will try to verify my sources further and double check my work. That just irks the $&*@ out of me to make such a stupid error.
The most anticipated game in the history of the Kibbie Dome is finally here. Idaho is expecting a sellout for the 24th ranked Bulldogs. Fresno State comes into the game a little banged up, but it shouldn't effect the outcome. After this week, Fresno State's last six games have some meat to them. No offense to Idaho, but the Bulldogs can not wait to get out of Northern Idaho.
With a win Fresno State will have it's best start since the 6-0 start in 2001. The No. 24 ranking by the media itestamentment to how the nation views and respects the Bulldog Program. Too bad, the AP poll has no bearing on the BCS standings. The coaches and Harris poll will probably not give the Bulldogs a place in their respective top 25s until at least after the Hawaii game.
Fresno Bee Gameday Preview
NCAA 06 PREDICTION
According to Sony Playstation's NCAA 06, Idaho's injured tailback Jayson Bird runs for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Idaho dominates Fresno State almost 3 to 1 in total yards in the first half but only led 21-17 at the break.
Fresno State rebounds in the second half to scoreunansweredered points led by a 57 yard td run by Wendell Mathis to give the Bulldogs a 31-21 lead. Joe Fernandez returned a a punt 62 yards to put the game out of reach at 38-21.
The Bulldogs held Idaho to only 6 points in the second half, en route to a tougher than anticipated win, 52-27.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Garrett McIntyre will play Saturday at Idaho, with a broken hand suffered Wednesday. He has seven games left in his senior season to impress scouts and improve his NFL draft status.
This year has not gotten off to the best start. McIntyre has only four tackles on the season, and has missed two games with a high ankle sprain. The preseason WAC Defensive Player of the Year will have a monster second half of the season, and will live up to his preseason hype, despite his injuries.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
All-American defensive lineman Garrett McIntyre broke his hand Wednesday during practice. It is still unknown whether he will play Saturday against Idaho. McIntyre is still not 100% from his high ankle sprain suffered in the season opener against Weber State.
Defensive tackle Jason Shirley is questionable for this weekend's game with a sprained ankle, as well. McIntyre was going to move inside from end to start at DT, in place of Shirley, Saturday. If neither is set to go against the Vandals, former walk on sophomore Charles Tolbert will make his first career start at DT.
Tailback Shannon Dorsey has returned to practice for the first time since his preseason injury. He tore a hamstring in August has been out since.
as posted on the Barkboard
The Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho is the sight for this week’s Fresno State-Idaho Western Athletic Conference game. The Dome has to be the most obscure stadium in Division I-A college football. The goal posts are actually bolted into the walls of the facility, not planted in the turf like most stadiums. With only 16,000 seats the Dome is certainly the smallest venue in Division I-A.
This is the game fans have been waiting for, or at least Idaho fans have been waiting for. Turn the clock back 50 years, and Fresno State would be Idaho and the Vandals would be the Bulldogs. Idaho was a NCAA Division I-A member from 1917-1974. The Vandals were a member of the Pacific Coast Conference from 1922-1958, while Fresno State was still struggling in the NCAA College Division.
The PCC was a precursor to the Pacific 8 Conference and eventually the Pacific Ten. In their 37 years in the PCC, Idaho never went to a bowl game and had only five winning seasons. The Vandals became an independent in 1959 when the PCC folded, and remained an independent until they became a member of the Division I-AA Big Sky Conference in 1975.
Idaho was forced into Division I-AA by the Idaho State Board of Education. They remained in I-AA until the end of the 1995 season. The Vandals made a return to Division I-A in 1996 as a member of the Big West Conference. When the Big West folded up football operations, Idaho jumped to the Sun Belt in 2001. Like Utah State, and New Mexico State, the Vandals are happy to be a member of the WAC.
Now to the game, its 2005 and Fresno State is the Big Bad Wolf. The Bulldogs are huffing and puffing and blowing teams away. Idaho is next, and their house of bricks called the Kibbie Dome, will not be enough to stop Fresno State.
Nick Holt is in his second season as head coach of the Vandals, and has them going in the right direction, but not soon enough. Idaho started the season surprisingly, by outplaying their rivals Washington State in a 38-26 loss. Since, they have gone 1-4, with the only win being at home versus Utah State, 27-13. Two weeks ago, however, the Vandals were pummeled at Nevada, 62-14, in their last game played.
Idaho’s most significant win this year, was off the field. On September 25, the 0-4 Vandals received five votes in the inaugural Harris Interactive College Football Poll. Idaho received more votes than Kansas State and Toledo, which were unbeaten at the time. The screw up won the Vandals a place in college football history.
The 24th ranked Bulldogs will be the first ranked team to play in the Dome’s 30 year history. Fresno State won its last and only game ever indoors, in 1978, 41-28. That game, as well, was in Moscow.
“They’re the best football team as has come to the Kibbie Dome since I’ve been associated with University of Idaho Football,” Holt said, who was also a Vandal assistant coach from 1990-1997.
“We have our work cut out for us. They’re really solid on defense.”
Fresno State leads the WAC in almost every defensive statistical category. The Bulldogs are first in the conference in rushing defense, passing defense, total defense, and scoring defense. This is not good for an opposing team that ranks last in the conference in rushing offense, and second to last in total offense and scoring offense. On paper the game is a statistical mismatch.
Despite the Vandal’s horrendous record, and statistical disadvantage they will come to play Saturday. The Dome is expected to sell out and the fans will be in all black for the biggest home game of the season. The crowd can get loud and the air hot inside the closed doors.
The Idaho players will be able to feed off the crowd, if the Vandals can keep the game close. Idaho gives up an average of 409 yards per game on defense, but their defense gives them the best shot to hang with Fresno State.
Linebacker Cole Snyder leads the Vandals with 74 total tackles. He is first in the WAC and second nationally in solo tackles per game. Linebacker Josh Bousman leads the team in sacks with 4 for -31 yards. Free safety D.J. Dykes leads the team in interceptions, with two, and pass break ups, four.
Snyder, a 5’11 221 lb senior, is a tackling machine. He could start for almost any team in the country. His presence in the middle will be instrumental in Idaho’s attempt to stop the Bulldog’s ground game.
“What makes them go is their running game,” Holt said.
“They have a bunch of good running backs that run hard and fall forward; catch the ball out of the backfield. Their receivers do a good job of blocking, too. I don’t think it really matters which back they give it to. I know they have some leaders. Regardless, of who’s in the game, you have to stop the run.”
Offensively, Idaho is averaging just 60.3 yards per game on the ground, and only 291.2 yards in total offense. Quarterback Steve Wichman is ranked 61st in the nation in passing efficiency, and did earn WAC offensive player of the week against UNLV for his 390 yard and 3 touchdown performance. His main target is D.J. Smith. Smith leads the team with 33 receptions for 434 yards.
Fresno State should be able to do what they want offensively against Idaho. Their defense and special teams have been dominant during the last three games, all blow out wins. Idaho does not look much better than any of those teams, but the Dome just might be the best home field advantage in the WAC.
The Bulldog’s speed will be showcased on the carpet, and that is just one more advantage for the visiting team. If Bulldog fans still have trouble getting up for this game. Idaho leads the all-time series 4 game to 3, but this weekend’s game will be the first ever in the series with both teams competing at the Division I-A level.
Name your score; my fearless prediction is, Fresno State 45, Idaho 7.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Fresno State will make their second appearance ever inside a dome stadium this Saturday at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho. The first time the 'Dogs played indoors was also in the "Dome" back in 1978. Idaho lost that game 41-28. Fresno State beat the Vandals the next year in Fresno, 30-10, but the Vandals still lead the overall series 4-3.
However, the other five games of the series were played when Fresno State was still in the NCAA College Division, today's equivalent of Division II.
Idaho is expecting a sellout at the 16,000 seat "Dome". The record crowd is 17, 600, set back in 1989 against Boise State.
Fresno State is the first nationally ranked DI-A team to play in the Kibbie Dome's 30 year history. May be a new record crowd will see the Vandals lose their first ever game at the "Dome" against a ranked opponent.
The Kibbie ASUI Dome was completed in the fall of 1975. It is the only domed stadium in the Western Athletic Conference. The Dome seats 16,000 for football. During the winter, it is converted into the Cowan Spectrum Â an arena within an arena Â is home to Vandal men's and women's basketball. Vandal track and field athletes also train and compete in the Dome during winter months.
Too bad the game can not be played on the practice field, it's much nicer but only 75 yards long.
In Mike Greenfield's latest college football power ratings, the Bulldogs come in at No. 7. Fresno State ranks behind USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Texas Tech and Georgia, respectively.
Where does everyone else on Fresno State's schedule rank in Greenfield's ratings? Only Division I-A teams are ranked, therefore, Weber State does not have a ranking.
Weber State: NA
Utah St: 107
Boise St: 43
La Tech: 93
Greenfield's ratings is just one of 95 different rating systems used in the College Football Ranking Comparison. Fresno State has an average rank of 26th , with a high of 7th in Greenfield's and a low of 49th in the Ashburn-Colvert college football ratings.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Former Oregon State quarterback Jonathan Smith gets another shot at the Fresno State defense. Smith is in his second year as the quarterbacks coach at Idaho, and has his first shot at Fresno State as an assistant. His chance at revenge rest in the hands of junior starting quarterback Steven Wichman. Wichman is 61st in the NCAA in passing efficiency, I doubt he will have much success against an aggressive Bulldogs defense.
Smith was 1-1 in his career as a player for the Beavers. As a sophomore he led OSU to a 46-23 win in Corvallis in 1999. In his second game against Fresno State, he was not as successful. The Bulldogs demolished the senior's 10th ranked Beavers, 44-24.
IDAHO FOOTBALL RELEASE(PDF)
As I was starting to read the weekly football release, this morning, I came across the heading, BSN on the Air. WTF? BSN? The Bulldog Sports Network.
The new Bulldogs Sports Network hits the air this weekend, televising the Fresno State vs. Idaho game. BSN was born with a new television agreement between Fresno State Athletics and Bulldog Sports Properties. Longtime broadcasting team Ralph Wood and Randy Rosenbloom will be calling the action. BSN will also do the Fresno State vs. Nevada game on Nov. 26 and several Bulldog men's basketball contests. The games will be shown locally on KFRE WB 59. -from gobulldogs.com
It sounds great, but is it anything different from what Bulldog fans are used to? The athletic department needs to step up to the plate, and offer live web streaming of every game. In this age of technology there is no excuse for Fresno State taking a backseat to say a New Mexico State in media relations. Last week's game against Utah State should have been available on some sort of live web streaming or on a tape delayed basis on the new Bulldog Sports Network.
I will get excited when I see something different, than Ralph Wood and Randy Rosenbloom broadcasting weak productions on local television.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Paul Pinegar threw an interception on the Bulldogs first play from scrimmage, and the Aggies capitalized on the short field and took an early lead, 7-0. Immediately thoughts of last year's loss to UTEP came to mind. Could the Dog's lose to the Aggies at home?
Fresno State answered back with 46 unanswered points and Utah State totaled only 202 yards of total offense, 99 from former Hoover standout Kevin Robinson. Robinson totaled 256 all-purpose yards improving on his WAC leading numbers, but his trip home was far from fun.
Not only did he get beat up on the field by Bulldog players, the students were heckling him all night, among others.
"Go back to Hoover, Robinson," yelled students.
"Fresno State didn't want you."
"Number six, you couldn't have been our waterboy."
Fresno State did not have its best offensive performance of the night, but it didn't have to, again. Fresno State has evolved into the Virginia Tech of the West. A dominant team with an aggressive defensive, and remarkable special teams.
In the Bulldogs four wins the average score has been 47-15, yet Fresno State has not reached 400 yards of total offense in either of those games. In fact, last night's 367 yards of total offense is the most in the four wins.
Fresno State has had short fields to work from all season long, and the trend continued Saturday. The Bulldogs defense is forcing turnovers, and the special teams are making plays. It is becoming pretty routine this year, and much different than the past years.
Since the close loss at Oregon, Fresno State has improved in all facets of its game. Some Bulldog fans will argue that Fresno State has not passed enough and the Bulldogs offense is conservative, but those critics probably don't pay attention to the game, only the stats.
"We could have passed more, but why," said Pat Hill after game on ESPN 1430.
Exactly! Fresno State dominated Utah State, there was no need to add further humiliation.
The make up of this years team is different than any other of Hill's teams. The Bulldogs always played tough, but ever since the pep talked he gave his team against Toledo, they have taken it to another level.
Dare I say, watch out USC, Fresno State is coming!
Saturday, October 15, 2005
It is the first and only home game for Fresno State in the month of October. Which in my opinion is the best month to watch a football game. In September the hot summer nights are still around, and come November the fog and cold start to roll in. October by far is the best month, not only weather wise but season wise, too.
October is the month of league games. It is the time when the conference race starts to shake itself out. The Bulldog's four games in October are all conference games with three on the road. Fresno State should not need any homecooking to get to 4-0 in the WAC before November.
Scroll down to see my Utah State preview, and check out the Fresno Bee's David White's game preview.
NCAA 06 Prediction
According to Sony Playstation's NCAA 06, Fresno State falls behind to the Aggies 10-7 at the start of the 2nd quarter. Then, Paul Pinegar takes over. Pinegar throws for three touchdowns in the second quarter, as the Bulldogs take a 28-10 lead at the half.
Bryson Sumlin runs for five touchdowns in the second half and over 200 yards for the game, en route to a Fresno State 63-24 win.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Clovis East (Clovis, Ca) all-state running back Tracy Slocum is narrowing down his list of schools.
Cal, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, and Fresno State are on top of his list. He claims offers from Washington State and Nebraska, as well.
"Fresno State is basically in my back yard. They are my hometown team. They are a really good program with a good offensive line. I think in the future you will see them coming up in the rankings," Slocum said.
Cal looks to be his favorite, followed closely by UCLA, but Fresno State is still in the running.
Slocum could contribute immediately for the Bulldogs next year. Fresno State loses senior running backs Bryson Sumlin, Wendell Mathis, and Matt Rivera. Next year's projected starters Dwayne Wright and Clifton Smith are recovering from knee injuries, and their durability is still unknown.
Did he want to become a Bulldog? Did Fresno State offer him a scholarship? Why did he choose Utah State? Does it matter now? He is an Aggie and Fresno State must account for him Saturday.
Hindsight is 20/20, Robinson was overshadowed by Clifton Smith in the fall of 2002, both were two way players in high school. They were outstanding on offense, but were mainly recruited by colleges to play defensive back. Smith transformed into the mega return man extrodinaire before his season ending injury this year, while Robinson has become the same for Utah State.
Would Robinson have had the same impact so early on in his career with the Bulldogs?
Who knows, but I hate see local kids leave and excel at other non-BCS schools, when Fresno State is in their own backyard. A lower level, under the radar talent should always become a Bulldog if offered, but I can understand if the 3, 4, or 5 star recruit wants to leave for the Pac 10.
as posted on the Barkboard
Homecoming 2005 is upon the Bulldog faithful, and Utah State is the sacrificial lamb. Most programs try to choose a low level team for homecoming to ensure a win. How many alumni want to travel to see their team get beat on homecoming? Utah State also has the honor of being Alabama’s homecoming opponent in two weeks.
Is Utah State really that bad of a team? No, the Aggies are just young. Utah State starts five freshman three of them true freshman. Ten other freshmen are on the two deep roster. Brent Guy has taken over a program that has not endured sustained success since the 1970’s.
Utah State had moderate success in the Big West Conference winning the conference title in 1993 and 1997, but the program has gradually fallen. When the Big West folded up as Division I-A football conference after the 2000 season the Aggies were forced to become an independent. The last two years the Aggies were a member of the Sun Belt, but now enter a new coach and new conference.
The 2005 season is a breath of fresh air for Utah State. The Western Athletic Conference is a perfect fit for Utah State, and Guy is the perfect coach to take the Aggies to the next level. Guy was an assistant for the Aggies from 1992-94, but spent the last four years at Arizona State as defensive coordinator.
Fresno State only has a one game lead in the series at 10-9-1. The Bulldogs have won the last two meetings, but from 1978-1981, Utah State won four in a row. Fresno State has never won more than three in a row in the series. A Utah State win would tie the series, but Aggie fans shouldn’t hold their breath.
Utah State counts 38 players from California on its roster, three being from Fresno. One of those players is Kevin Robinson. Robinson is the best player on the Aggie roster. The receiver/kick returner was named WAC player of the week for his performance last week against San Jose State. The Aggies will try to get the ball is his hands as much as possible.
His counterpart is Tony Pennyman. Pennyman is the Aggies leading receiver, and is leading the nation in kickoff returns. Pennyman and Robinson compare to any of the receivers Fresno State has seen this year, including Oregon.
Quarterback Leon Jackson is a good passer, but a even better runner. Utah State does use some option with Jackson, but he is more effective on the quarterback draw. The Bulldogs have had trouble with scrambling quarterbacks, and Jackson is the best they will see this year. He leads the Aggies in rushing.
Besides Jackson, Utah State’s running game is very weak. True freshman Ryan Bohm is the starting tailback, but only has 95 yards rushing through the first four games. Expect to see Robinson on reverses and draws by Jackson to pick up the slack against the Bulldogs.
Defensively, Utah State might be the best Fresno State has seen this year thus far. Utah State has not allowed an opponent to score above 31 points. Fresno State has scored at least 34 points in every game dating back to last year’s homecoming win over SMU, and is averaging 42.5 points per game this year. Something has to give.
“They are very fundamentally sound on defense,” Pat Hill said.
“Of the last three teams we've played, Utah State is the best defensive team of the three.”
“Brent Guy was a defensive coordinator at Arizona State and they play very hard. I watched their game with Utah. I was impressed with their team speed.”
The Aggie defensive line will be a good challenge for Fresno State. Defensive tackle Brian Soi, is a 6’3 318 lb monster on the line. Soi is comparable to Oregon’s Haloti Ngata; it often takes two players to contain him. His presence in the middle opens up the outside for ends John Chick and Jarom Fano.
At linebacker former Bullard High (Fresno) and Fresno City College standout D.J Brookter will be making his third consecutive start. The senior has been slowed by injuries in the spring and preseason, but is fast becoming one of the conferences best linebackers.
If Utah State expects to hang with Fresno State and have a shot to pull out a miracle in the fourth quarter, the defensive backs must play the game of their lives. Paul Pinegar and the Bulldog receivers can light up the scoreboard. This is the matchup that will be crucial for the Aggies to have any success in slowing down the Bulldogs.
Special teams are going to be fun to watch. Utah State has some of the best return men in the country, and Fresno State’s kick teams pride themselves on stopping returns. There will be at least one special team’s touchdown in this game.
Utah State has yet to be blown out this year, but Las Vegas must know something, the Bulldogs are -33 point favorites. The Aggies 24 point loss at Utah was a lot closer than the score indicated. It was Utah State’s season opener, while Utah was playing it’s second home game. It became the season opener after Hurricane Katrina forced the cancellation of their game with Nicholls State (La.). Utah State led the Utes for most of the first half, 7-0, but Utah pulled away in the second half.
Unfortunately for the Aggies Fresno State is better than Utah. Fresno State was forced to run the ball last week against New Mexico State because of the weather, but Pinegar should pass a lot more than the previous two games. Utah State will be a good test for the Bulldogs. These Aggies are a lot better than last week’s, and the Bulldogs will counter with a balanced attack.
I expect Fresno State to have their best offensive performance of the year. The game should be close for the first quarter, Utah State will be ready, but the Bulldogs will be too much for Aggies. Utah State could make it interesting with outstanding special team’s play and a good defensive performance. My fearless prediction for homecoming is, Fresno State 42, Utah State 10.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Bryson Sumlin and Wendell Mathis both topped 100 yards rushing for the first time this season. It was Sumlin's second straight 100 yard game, while it was Mathis' first for 2005.
The Bulldogs entered the season with one of the most potent running back tandems in the nation. Many expected Sumlin and Mathis to carry an offense that would rely heavily on the run. However, Fresno State has showed remarkable balance this year. They can run and pass with equal success, but have yet to do it in the same game since the opener against Weber State.
Paul Pinegar is in the midst of a great senior season. He is proving to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. After the Bulldogs 3 game losing streak in 2004, Fresno State has won 9 of 10. During their 3 game skid, the Bulldogs failed to score more than 21 points. In the last ten games Fresno State has scored at least 34 points, while averaging 48.7, and Pinegar has been the center of that revitalization.
Pinegar and Fresno State have been able to counter whatever challenge that has been thrown their way this year. Against Oregon Pinegar passed for 418 yards and threw 3 tds, when the Duck defense loaded up the box to stop the run. In the Bulldogs other three games, he has not had to do much, but that is a credit to Sumlin, Mathis, and the defense and special teams.
The defense and special teams have given the Bulldogs short fields to work from all season, thus far. Fresno State has not had to move the ball far to score points. Statistics do not always tell the truth. Putting the stats aside, Fresno State has not been stopped offensively this year.
Utah State will see the Bulldogs best performance yet. Fresno State was going to open up the playbook against New Mexico State, but the rain scratched those plans.
If the skies are clear Saturday night, the Aggies should expect to see a similar offensive performance from the 2001 70-21 Bulldog win.
FRESNO STATE FOOTBALL RELEASE(PDF)
They will make their first trip to California since their loss to Fresno State in 2001. The Western Athletic Conference gives Aggie fans regional opponents that they recognize. After trips to places like Troy, Alabama, Fresno is a welcome site. The Aggies face a tough road ahead, and Fresno State is just the first step. The next three games Utah State will play at Fresno State, host Boise State, and travel to Alabama.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I was given my first award as the most bias voter for ranking Fresno State #18 in my latest ballot. The Coulter/Krugman Award is all mine.
The CK Award goes to Fresno State blogger MDG, who has the unranked-at-large Bulldogs at #18. Personally, I left Fresno State off my ballot without really considering their body of work, which is worthy of consideration. They nuked a decent Toledo team and dropped a very close one to #20 Oregon. I think there's a case for the Bulldogs if they continue to win before their matchup with (gasp) USC. -MGOBLOG
I doubt BYU will be looking Fresno State's way. The former WAC rivals have not met since 1998, when the Bulldogs upset the Cougars 31-21.
The Mountain West has sent an email out on behalf of BYU looking for future non-conference opponents.
Fresno State should not feel too bad, BYU does not to want to play its long time in-state rival Utah State, either.
D.J. Brookter will be making his second visit to Bulldog Stadium as an Aggie. The former Bullard High and Fresno City College player starts at linebacker for Utah State. Brookter was just a freshman when No. 21 ranked Fresno State whipped on the Aggies 70-21.
Brookter redshirted in 2002, and transferred to FCC in 2003. He returned to Utah State last year, but only started one game. Injuries sidelined him most of spring and fall drills of this year, but is expected to start his third consecutive game Saturday versus Fresno State.
Garret McIntyre is still recovering from his high ankle sprain, he played only in nickel packages against New Mexico State. He should return to the starting lineup for this weekend's game.
Roshon Vercher has returned to practice and is probable for Saturday's game, rFr Kyle Richard has taken snaps with the first team in his absence.
Backup Adam McDowell is out.
Backup Charles Tolbert has returned to practice after missing the NMSU game.
Utah State is reporting no injuries to any starters.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Some headlines from Utah State media
Receiver Duo Gives Aggies Punch by Jay Hinton Deseret Morning News
Rough Stretch Begins with Fresno by Steve Luhm Salt Lake City Tribune
Aggies Joy Ride may be Short-Lived by Steve Luhm Salt Lake City Tribune
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Utah State's best player is local product Kevin Robinson. Robinson is a 2003 graduate of Hoover High School, and former teammate of Fresno State linebacker Ahijah Lane. The 6-0 190 lb sophomore receiver/return man was just named Western Athletic Player of the Week for special teams. He leads the Aggies in scoring with six touchdowns, and last year was named to numerous freshman All-American teams as a return specialist. Saturday will be the first time he will get to play college ball in his hometown.
"It feels good to go back home because I haven't been home since the summer break. I will get to see my parents, my nephew and nieces, and a bunch of other friends so it should be fun," he said.
"It will be my first time playing at the stadium [Bulldog]... I know about 20 players on their team because they recruit a lot of locals. When you are from Fresno and have played against a lot of locals you will know a lot of players on their team."
Pat Hill recruits a lot of local kids, but Robinson was not a main target for the class of 2003. Robinson played cornerback in high school, and only received an offer from Utah State, according to Scout.com.
"They recruited me a little bit but they didn't recruit me too heavily. They went after my friend Ahijah Lane who plays linebacker for them now," Robinson said.
You can not fault Hill too much. The class of 2003 included all-state cornerbacks Clifton Smith and Damon Jenkins. It still would have been nice to see Robinson in Bulldogs red this weekend, instead of Aggie blue.
UTAH STATE FOOTBALL RELEASE(PDF)