A game of missed opportunities


Juan VIlla / The Collegian

Fresno State had its fair share of second chances in loss

It was billed as the biggest, most important game in coach Pat Hill’s 12-year career, a matchup between two top 25 teams on national television.

The Bulldogs had two weeks to prepare for the first Big Ten team to ever play a game in the Valley and the stadium was packed over capacity.

With an undefeated season and Bowl Championship Series (BCS) aspirations on the line, the Bulldogs missed an opportunity to do something special.

“That one was ours for the taking and we let it slip through our hands,” senior quarterback Tom Brandstater said following the No. 21 Bulldogs’ 13-10 loss to the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers.

A victory over the highly- ranked Badgers would have catapulted the Bulldogs much higher in the top 25 rankings and would have been a statement game for the team.

It was not just that the Bulldogs missed an opportunity to win the game and keep BCS hopes alive, it was a game full of second chances for the Bulldogs and the team never took advantage.

“We had some opportunities in that football game to make plays,” coach Pat Hill said. “There were so many opportunities that were missed opportunities for us.”

The game was never out of reach for Fresno State, because the defense only allowed Wisconsin to score 13 points even though its back was against the wall most of the game.

The defense made a gutsy fourth down, goal-line stand, preventing Wisconsin from scoring in the first quarter and were forced to begin multiple series in its own territory.

With the defense playing above and beyond its expected potential, the offense and special teams, which were supposed to be strengths of the team, could not come through on the biggest of stages.

The most glaring errors were the three missed field goals. Kicker Kevin Goessling missed field goals of 47, 51 and 35 yards in the game.

While the missed field goals could have been the difference-makers in the game, the Bulldogs had many other chances to put the Badgers away.

For the second straight game, the offense was unable to score any points in the first half and was unable to live up to expectations.

The Bulldogs’ offense had plays of 61 and 57 yards to begin crucial drives in the second half and the team was only able to turn the plays into three points.

“I think we left a couple points on the field back there and think we could have executed better,” tailback Ryan Mathews said.

While the Bulldogs were granted second chances throughout the game to come back, the biggest opportunity wasted was the chance to keep the BCS hopes alive in front of a national audience.

It was the first sellout at Bulldog Stadium since 2006 and the players and coaches knew how big this game was for their team and fans.

“I am just sorry we couldn’t pull through with the win,” Mathews said.

Now the Bulldogs must take the opportunities left this season. Conference play has not begun and the team is still in the AP Top 25.

“We’re gonna keep working hard,” Hill said. “We feel we can still have a heck of a season.”

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