A Rivalry Renewed?
When you think of rivalries the first that come to mind tend to be the national rivalries that we always see on TV, hear about on the radio, and watch when they are televised. You have USC-Notre Dame, Ohio State-Michigan and Florida-Georgia just to name a few. Here in Fresno we tend to think about Fresno State-Hawaii as the rivalry that we love/hate the most. At one time that rival was San Jose State. In a series that began in the early 1900's the San Jose State-Fresno State series has seen every type of game possible between the two. San Jose State has gone on a long streak of victories over the Dogs just as Fresno State has done the same over the Spartans. In the past these two schools would play for the Cal bowl year in and year out. The winner of the annual San Jose State-Fresno State game would be awarded a Cal bowl birth. Unfortunately times have changed for these two schools as Fresno State seems to have changed it's focus with respect to football. Over the past sixteen years San Jose has not had a football program that Spartan fans tend to be proud of. With losing season after losing season the Spartans have more often than not rolled over in the Fresno State-San Jose State series. The Spartans are currently on a 12 game losing streak to the Bulldogs. During the twelve game losing streak San Jose has only been competitive in three of the twelve games as the rest have all ended in blowouts. In 2000 Fresno State took on San Jose State with a birth to the Silicon Valley Classic on the line. The Bulldogs would win that game 37-6. That may have been the last time this series could have been considered a rivalry.
While it is true that the Bulldogs only won the 2002 contest 19-16 the fact remains that this series has had very little turmoil of late. In order for a rivalry to exist one team has to take something away from the other. One reason Boise State is not a rivalry is because Fresno has never taken anything from Boise State. Sure Boise State came into Fresno State in 2001 and ended our BCS run, but how have the Bulldogs responded to that loss to Boise State? The Bulldogs responded by losing four out of the next five games to the Broncos. Fresno State will not be able to make the Boise state series a rivalry until they knock them off and take the WAC title from them. The same set of rules applies to the Bulldogs and Spartans. If the Spartans can continue to improve and the Bulldogs get back on track next season this series may see the rivalry side it once held in the eighties. San Jose State will have to beat Fresno State sometime soon for us Bulldog fans to consider this any type of rivalry. I can tell you right now that Bulldog fans see San Jose State on the schedule and consider it a win regardless of who has the better record. The Bulldogs just beat San Jose State year after year and until the Spartans do something about it this will not be a rivalry.
I realize that San Jose State fans may see this game differently. San Jose fans and players are on the losing side of this series right now so to them this is much more of a rivalry than to the Fresno State side of the series. Fresno State seniors don't want to lose this game because they do not want to be the first Bulldog team in 13 years to drop a game to San Jose. San Jose wants to win this game because their seniors have never beat the Bulldogs. This game Saturday is much more intriguing than most games between the Dogs and Spartans. Fresno State wants to end the season on a four game winning streak sending Dwayne Wright off on a winning note. Dwayne Wright at the end of the San Jose State game will go down as one of the most dominant backs in Fresno State history. I believe he is the single best running back we have ever had. He will do all he can to carry the Bulldogs in this game. San Jose on the other side of it all wants to end a 12 game losing streak. San Jose wants to go into their first bowl game in forever on a winning note. San Jose wants to beat the Dogs more than any other team on their schedule and knows that the fans will be out to see this game Saturday.
Whatever happens Saturday there is a chance that these two teams can renew a rivalry that has been dead over the past seven-ten years. This will be a close game and Fresno State looks to be on the same level as San Jose State for the first time in a long while. I still feel like the Bulldogs are a better team overall. It has been shown if they get at least decent play from their QB they will win games. The same will go for the game against San Jose State. If Brandstater does not shoot himself in the foot Dwayne Wright will carry the load and the Bulldogs will come out on top in the latest installment of Fresno State-San Jose State.