Victory just out of reach

Fresno State’s Devon Wylie fumbled in the third quarter, but the call on the field was reversed. Wylie and the Bulldogs dropped a big game, but were able to stay in the rankings at No. 25.
Juan Villa / The Collegian

Bulldogs’ upset effort falls short in top 25 matchup with Badgers at a sold out Bulldog Stadium


In a game where physical play, low scoring and game-changing mistakes made the difference, the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers held off an upset-minded Fresno State squad Saturday.

Struggles with special teams, ball protection, blocking up front and a lack of containment on Heisman Trophy candidate P.J. Hill led the Badgers to a 13-10 victory over the Bulldogs in front of a sold out crowd at Bulldog Stadium.

“I got a lot of respect for Wisconsin, they’re a good football team,” coach Pat Hill said. “Obviously, it was a very physical game. Wisconsin played really good defense against us.”

Defense was one of the themes for the night, with the Badgers containing Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews to 54 yards rushing, and sacking quarterback Tom Brandstater three times.

Quarterback Tom Brandstater walks off the field following his team’s 13-10 loss to Wisconsin. Brandstater threw for over 200 yards and a touchdown, but the offense wasn’t as effective as he would have liked. The senior quarterback was quick to place blame on himself following Saturday night’s game instead of any of his teammates.
Juan Villa / The Collegian

No Bulldog had over 100 yards receiving against Wisconsin’s secondary.
“It hurts just to know that I didn’t give it my best shot,” said Brandstater, who finished the night 15-of-27 passing for 225 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

It was defense that also kept the Bulldogs in the game.

Fresno State kept P.J. Hill out of the end zone even though he rushed for 112 yards on 26 carries. All-American tight end Travis Beckum was held to four receptions for 51 yards.
A.J. Jefferson finished with a game-high 11 tackles, while linebacker Ben Jacobs finished with nine.
“I thought our defense played well,” Pat Hill said.
Hill, however, believed that missed opportunities led to the loss for the Bulldogs.

“We had some opportunities in that football game to make plays, but there were so many different opportunities that were missed opportunities,” Hill said. “I’m not going to place the blame anywhere except that we didn’t make enough plays to win the game.”

Those mistakes came mostly from special teams play, where freshman kicker Kevin Goessling missed three field goals of 47, 51, and 35 yards for the night and finished the game 1-for-4.

“I think Kevin Goessling’s going to be a great player for us,” Hill said. “There was nothing wrong with his leg or his distance, he was just a little off tonight, and I felt that he got a heck of a baptism tonight. But I think when it’s all over; he’s going to be one of the best kickers to have gone through here.”

“He’s a great kicker and he knows he needs to be better,” Brandstater said.

Hill believed that it was losing the turnover battle that prevented the upset against Wisconsin.

“When you lose 13-10 and turn the ball over in a critical situation, it talks about the turnover battle,” Hill said.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over two times on the night, with an interception on a tipped pass that fell into the hands of Wisconsin linebacker DeAndre Levy early in the game and a botched punt return.

Wisconsin got off to a 10-0 start to end the first half, but the Bulldogs came alive in the second, especially the ground game, which finished with 118 yards on the night.

Lonyae Miller led the way with 67 yards on seven carries.

We just got to focus on the little things,” Ryan Mathews said. “We got to execute and play our game.”

The offensive line was without two of its starters, with Cole Popovich and Richard Pacheco sitting out Saturday night.

“It’s tough to lose two starters, but the guys who came in played really well,” Brandstater said.

One player who did step up big for Fresno State was wide receiver Devon Wylie, who gained 25 yards on an end-around to get the crowd in a frenzy, then dodged a Wisconsin defender en route to a 47-yard touchdown reception to cut the lead to 10-7 in the third quarter.

“He was huge,” Brandstater said. “We’re going to need him to be a good offense.”
Hill doesn’t want his team to look ahead or look back at the Wisconsin game. He wants his team to think about the Toledo Rockets for the next game.

The Bulldogs take on Toledo Saturday at 5:15 p.m.

“We need to get focused on Toledo,” Hill said. “We can’t dwell on this loss.”

Collegian Players of the Game

The Collegian hands out its game balls following every Bulldog football game:

• Offense, Devon Wylie: The sophomore wide receiver caught two passes for 62 yards, including a 47-yard catch that was the Bulldogs’ lone touchdown Saturday night. Wylie also ran for 25 yards on a reverse play during the scoring drive.
• Defense, Ben Jacobs: For the second consecutive game, Fresno State’s defense was able to prevent its opponent from scoring on fourth-and-goal. Jacobs stuffed P.J. Hill on fourth down to give the Bulldogs posession. Jacobs finished the night with nine total tackles.
• Special teams, Desia Dunn: The redshirt-freshman blocked a punt in the third quarter to put the Bulldogs in scoring position. Dunn was one of the few highlights for the special teams unit on the night.

Coming up next…

The Bulldogs head back on the road to take on the Toledo Rockets Saturday at 5 p.m. The Rockets beat Eastern Michigan Saturday night 41-17 and have the same exact record as the Bulldogs at 1-1. Toledo lost to Arizona 41-16 in week one. The last time Fresno State played Toledo, the Bulldogs beat the Rockets 44-14 at Bulldog Stadium. Toledo finished 5-7 last season with a 3-5 mark in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).

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