Saturday Fresno State begins a journey against four teams that defeated them in 2006. While the Bulldogs seem to have successfully forgotten about what happened in 2006 there is no way to forget about the teams that beat them during that unfortunate season. This Saturday San Jose State will represent the first team from the WAC that knocked the Bulldogs off in 2006 . Fresno State and San Jose State do not get along well. Aside the two coaches (who seem to have more respect for one another than most coaches do) you would be hard pressed to find players from either team that have anything nice to say about one another. San Jose State fans have nicknamed Fresno State various names such as Tractor U while Fresno State fans generally refer to San Jose State as "San Loser State". Over the past fifteen years Fresno State has owned this series as they have lost one time in that span. However, 2006 would be the one season that the Spartans were able to regain some of the glory from the Bulldogs. However you view the Bulldogs and Spartans one thing is certain about this series: These two teams do not like one another and this Saturday it will become obvious in Bulldogs Stadium.
The Spartans-Bulldogs series seemed to have lost some of it's luster due to the Bulldogs dominating the series for the past fifteen years. But if you were to take a look at the message boards between these two teams you would see there has been very little love lost between the two teams' fan bases. Fresno State fans do not like San Jose State fans. San Jose State fans don't typically like Bulldog fans. In other words the rivalry between the two teams may have taken some time off but it is beginning to heat up once again. Regardless of what you might feel may play a role in the game between the Spartans and Bulldogs on Saturday one factor cannot be ignored: Revenge. Fresno State feels as if they owe San Jose State a beating after they lost to them last year in San Jose. TB played what he called "His worst game as a Bulldog" this past season and wants nothing more than to atone for the mistakes he made in 2006. Brandstater has handled himself well this season and seems to be gaining confidence with each game that passes by. At the same time you have to remember that Fresno State has not been home since their win over La. Tech. Fresno fans cannot wait to see the Bulldogs play after their 2-0 road trip. The Bulldogs sit at the top of the WAC with a 3-0 record and look to make the move back to the top of the conference this season. The next step is to knock off San Jose, something the Dogs seem to want more than anything in the world right now.
The Spartans must realize that they are coming into Bulldog stadium under tough conditions. San Jose may have had one extra day to prepare for the Dogs but their devastating loss to Hawaii may have some affect on team. At the same time maybe the Spartans look at this game against the Bulldogs as a chance to rebound from their tough loss to Hawaii. Although most WAC fans despise June Jones and the Rainbows you would be hard pressed to find a Spartan fan who hasn't named Fresno State enemy #1. If the fans feel this strongly about the Bulldogs then the players surely match that intensity to beat their hated rival. The Spartans look to be a passing team as they throw the ball for over 250 yards per game but only rush for 60 per game. Fresno State's secondary has been impressive this season as they have held opponents to an average of 185 yards passing per game. Tafralis and the Spartans will test the Bulldogs early and often in this game. While Tafralis possesses gaudy stats with respect to passing yards he has thrown nine int's this season. Fresno State is yet to pick off a pass and are hoping San Jose State is the fix for this problem. In the end the Bulldogs are going to have to find a way to pressure Tafralis into making mistakes. If Tafralis is able to relax in the pocket he will have a field day against Fresno State which can only mean bad things when it comes to the final score.
Overall both teams have plenty to play for. The Spartans have now lost a game in the WAC and if they hope to contend for the title they can ill afford to lose a second game. Fresno State is atop the WAC standings now and realize they cannot afford to lose a game either. Because Fresno State lost this game last year I believe they have the advantage if for no other reason than the revenge factor. Fresno State will come down the ramp on Saturday to a sold out homecoming crowd who is once again excited for Bulldog football. J-Mac has invigorated this team and it's fan base with his creativeness and has found a way to open up the offense again as the Bulldogs have scored 49 and 37 points the past two games. If Fresno State can play with the intensity they have shown in the past three games they will control the clock and win this game by two touchdowns. However, if the Dogs make mistakes and turn the ball over more than they take it away they will be in for a fight to the end. Fresno State has everything going for them with respect to momentum. They have won three straight games and seem to be gelling as a team. The players have confidence, the fans have confidence, and the coaching staff has confidence in the Bulldogs. Look for this game to mirror many of the Bulldog-Spartan games before the 2006 season. Fresno State will control the clock and win this game going away in front of a sold out crowd in Bulldog Stadium.
Fresno State 38
San Jose State 17