Dec 18, 2018
Fresno State wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (3) makes the catch for an 81-yard touchdown ahead of Boise State's Kekoa Nawahine (10) in the fourth quarter on Nov. 24, 2017, at Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State won, 28-17. (Eric Paul Zamora/Fresno Bee/TNS)

The chance to be champions

Fresno State managed to beat Boise State 28-17 last Saturday, but if the ‘Dogs want to win the Mountain West Championship, they have to do something they’ve never done before: beat the Broncos on their home turf.

Head coach Jeff Tedford said at his press conference Monday that the team won’t prepare any differently than it has all year just because it’s the championship game.

“If we prepared any differently now, just because it’s a championship game, then that’s the way we should be preparing all year long,” Tedford said.

He said he’s fully aware of Boise State’s history and traditions. The Broncos’ 83.7 winning percentage since 2000 is the best in the country. But the Bulldogs aren’t concerned about the past, only about Saturday’s game, he added.  

“They’re a great football team, and they’re very tough at home,” Tedford said. “It’s a hostile environment. The place is always packed, and their fans are always into it. But what’s happened in the past is really not our concern. We have great respect for them, and that’s not going to change.”

Fresno State was a co-champion in 2012, along with Boise State and San Diego State, and in 2013 they won the inaugural Mountain West Championship game to become outright champions.

The College Football Playoff Committee ranked Fresno State No. 25 on Tuesday and left Boise State unranked. But unfortunately for the ‘Dogs, the Mountain West Conference decided to award Boise State as host instead of waiting for the committee poll to come out. Had original procedure been followed, Fresno State would be hosting the championship.

Regardless, though, this challenge is just another for the ‘Dogs to overcome in a season that saw a complete reversal from last year. During that 1-11 season – the worst in program history – head coach Tim DeRuyter was fired, and Tedford was pegged to resurrect the team’s fortunes.

Tedford brought on Kalen DeBoer to lead the offense and Orlondo Steinauer for the defense. The results have been dramatic.

Last season, the ‘Dogs offense averaged 329.3 yards per game. This year, that number is 393.3.

As much as the offense has improved, so has the defense. The defense gave up 415.1 yards per game last year, compared with 315.3 this season.

The ‘Dogs have a chance to become champions. Before the season, they were picked to finish last in the West Division in the Mountain West Preseason Poll. But they proved everyone wrong.

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