This is obviously not what Bulldog fans had hoped for as an encore for last year’s 11-2 season, but unless you are a true Fresno State fan and not on some bandwagon, you wouldn’t know that the Bulldogs still have a shot at a third-consecutive conference title.
Title talk for the Bulldogs came to a halt after three consecutive conference losses, but after winning last week over the in-state rival San Jose State Spartans, head coach Tim DeRuyter’s team kept itself alive and can now go back to saying that it still has all its goals ahead.
Sure, the Bulldogs may be 4-6 and 3-3 in conference play. But in a somewhat open West Division that has three teams vying for the top spot, the ‘Dogs still have a chance. All the Bulldogs have to do is win out the remainder of their schedule and hope that San Diego State loses one of its three remaining games (against Boise State, Air Force or San Jose State). Of the three, the Aztecs are more likely to drop this weekend’s contest to Boise State, which ESPN has listed as a 13-point favorite in Saturday’s league showdown.
The Mountain Division is in a similar situation, as it also has a three-way race going on among the first-place and 23rd-ranked Colorado State Rams, the second-place Broncos and the third-place Utah State Aggies. The Broncos (7-2, 4-1) hold the tiebreaker over the Rams (9-1, 5-1), as they took them down 37-24 in Week 2.
Boise State would hold the top spot in the Mountain Division if not for a 28-14 upset loss it suffered to Air Force on Sept. 27. Since it holds the tiebreaker over Colorado State, if it wins out, it will earn a spot in the 2014 Mountain West Championship game and likely host it even if the Rams are nationally ranked.
Bulldogs’ bright spots
One of the few bright spots worth mentioning and that has kept the Bulldogs’ Mountain West title hopes alive has been the run game. Junior running back Marteze Waller is the force behind the Bulldogs’ rushing attack, averaging 108.6 yards per contest. Waller recently surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the year and became the 21st Bulldog in program history to do so in last week’s must-win game against San Jose State.
While he has done what he can, the rest of the team hasn’t been of much help: particularly the defense, which allows an average of 35.5 points per game and 28.8 in conference play. The Bulldogs’ offense, on the other hand, puts up 28.3 per game while relying on Waller due to the inconsistent quarterback play all year. So, in order for the Bulldogs to have a chance, they must continue to rely on the power-running game.
Up next on the Bulldogs’ schedule following this week’s bye is a trip to Nevada followed by Hawaii, who the ‘Dogs host on Nov. 29 for Senior Day. So, in reality, if the Bulldogs manage to escape Reno with a win over the Wolf Pack, and cruise through Hawaii, they could punch themselves a ticket to the title game.
So, there it is Bulldog “fans.” Believe it or not, your Fresno State Bulldogs still have a legitimate shot to be in the Mountain West title game despite the ugly season.