Monday, October 15, 2007

NSC's .02 on WACky Weekend

by nsc

In all of my years as a college football fan I am not sure I can say I have ever seen a weekend develop the way this past one did for the Western Athletic Conference. Aside the Fresno State-Idaho game the other three games played all went down to the wire with two of them needing overtime to decide a winner. On Friday Hawaii stormed back after being down 14 with four minutes left to defeat San Jose State 42-35 in overtime. While Hawaii is suspect on defense they continue to win and at the end of the day that is all you can do to keep yourself in the WAC race. Saturday La. Tech defeated NMSU 22-21 at home as La. Tech scored the winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. Those two games alone would have made for a wonderful WAC weekend but in the end they did not compare to what we were given Sunday night in Boise, Idaho. Boise State and Nevada played a four overtime classic with the Broncos coming away with a 69-67 victory when Tim Brady was able to corral Colin Kaepernick on a two point conversion attempt. You have to give Nevada and their Freshman QB some credit as Boise more often than not destroys WAC teams on their home field. It is not often to have a visiting WAC school take the lead on Boise State with less than four minutes to play and that is exactly what happened last night. However, Boise came away with the win and as I stated earlier in the end all that matters in wins and losses.

While this weekend was exciting it pushed me to begin thinking about which team in the WAC has shown the least amount of weaknesses up to this point. Now remember that when I consider the amount of weakness a team has shown I am only considering their first team defense and offense because generally those are the players who will be in for the majority of each game. Although Hawaii is undefeated there is no way to view them as a strong favorite to run the table. Now that we have seen that Nevada can play with just about anyone in the WAC that game at home against Hawaii is going to be much harder to come away with a victory than first thought. At the same time Hawaii still has Fresno State, Boise State, and Washington on their schedule (although all three are at home). Hawaii has shown that their first team defense is not going to stop anyone. If a team can put pressure on Brennan they will force him to throw early and make mistakes. If Brennan continues to throw multiple interceptions each week it will eventually catch up with him and Hawaii will see a loss for the first time this season. Boise State until last night looked unstoppable. However, it has become obvious that they have containment problems on the outside with respect to the running game. As Fresno State fans we know all about teams that can't stop the outside run (Fresno State couldn't for a good three years in a row until this season). Boise State's games against Fresno State and Hawaii now look far tougher than before as they have to travel for both games. Boise will enter a hostile environment this time around in Fresno as the Bulldogs look to be back on track for the first time in over two seasons.

Fresno State has shown that they can dominate a game and coast to victory. Over the course of their first three games in the WAC the Bulldogs first team defense has given up a total of forty points (6 to La. Tech, 20 to Nevada, 14 to Idaho). If the Dogs first team defense stays in for the course of the game we may see another La. Tech effort as the Bulldogs completely shut down Champion and his offense. Although I realize this is hard to believe the fact is that Fresno State has shown just as few weaknesses as anyone in the WAC up to this point. You can make the argument that we haven't played anyone compared to the other top tier teams in the WAC but we knocked off Nevada rather easily while Boise struggled against them. Hawaii struggled to beat La. Tech a team Fresno defensively controlled their entire game with La. Tech. With San Jose State and Boise State coming to town in the next two weeks the Dogs will see what they are made of. San Jose comes off a defeat where they played maybe their best game of the season. San Jose put a scare in Hawaii and did all they could to knock the Rainbows off on a soggy field in the Silicon valley. Now the Spartans will travel to the Central Valley and try to knock the Bulldogs off for a second straight week. Whether this will happen or not depends on if the Dogs can control the running game once again. For the first three WAC games the Dogs ticket to wins has been their strength in the running game and look for this game to follow suit. However, Fresno State's one glaring weakness has been their offensive continuity. One drive they march down the field with relative ease while the next drive they cannot gain a yard. If the Dogs can find a rhythym on offense it is going to be hard for any team in the WAC to beat them regardless of where the game is played.

As I stated earlier the WAC has been a fun conference to say the least this season. While the overall team talent looks to be down the field of play seems to be much more even than any year in the past. Any one of three teams look like they could walk away with the WAC championship. The deciding factor will be how well these teams protect home field and if those same teams can steal a game from one another on the road. Fresno State has to travel to Hawaii, but remember this Bulldog team has never lost to Hawaii on the island. In fact this Bulldog team is 1-0 against Hawaii on the island (with respect to those who remain from the 2005 team). The WAC is shaping up to give us an exciting finish and for the first time in quite a while Fresno State looks to have just as good a shot at the title as anyone.

No comments: