Special Teams Preview/ Game Prediction
Special Teams - I took a lot of crap last week for putting both Fresno State and Oregon as equals with respect to special teams. However, Paul Martinez hit a 36 yard field goal, their kick return team outperformed ours, and they made the special teams plays we didn't. I know it doesn't happen often, but Oregon's special teams outplayed Fresno's last weekend. I would not look for the same thing to happen this weekend. Although Fresno has lot quite a bit in the kick return game with Joe Fernandez as opposed to Adam Jennings, Fernandez does not turn the ball over on kickoffs and that is something we should be thankful for. He holds onto the ball and will get the ball out to the 25-30 yard line on every kickoff. The punting game has taken a hit with Lingua not being able to kick as Malone just doesn't have the hang time that Lingua does. Opposing teams are returning punts at a much better rate this year than they did last year against Fresno. As usual our kicking game is fine as Clint Stitser is one of the best in the nation and will continue to get better as the season goes along.
Washington counters with a decent kick return game. Roy Lewis averages 18 yards per kick return which is acceptable in today's kick return world. However, Washington has a distinct advantage in the punting game. Their punter Sean Douglas averages over 50 yards per punt this season and actually has had one punt registered at 82 yards. If he can continue to boom the ball the Huskies are going to enjoy a field position battle that we all know is very important in the game of college football. Overall Washington's special teams are definitely capable of making big plays. Fresno State has become one of the premier special teams schools in the nation and has a slight edge over Washington here. As long as the Bulldogs can remember that teams from time to time will run a fake field goal because the Dogs block so many kicks they should be in good shape in this one.
Special Teams Advantage - Fresno State
Prediction - Washington is far improved from the last time these two teams met. At the same time Fresno State is also a much improved team overall. Everyone knows about Fresno State's problems rebounding from a tough loss, but last season they came back and drilled Toledo a week after they lost to Oregon in similar fashion to this season. Washington will give Fresno more than they wish to handle in this game. The line on the game is around two but the Bulldogs will be hungry to win this game and get another winning streak started. Overall it should be a very competitive game with Fresno State coming out on top in the end.
Fresno State 34 Washington 24