The Sports Desk

Saturday’s Standouts

Game-changing moment: Brandon Bolden’s 71-yard touchdown

With the ‘Dogs down, but not out, at halftime 27-10 Bolden delivered the backbreaker on the first play of the second half. On first down from his own 29-yard line, Bolden took the hand off and ran untouched into the end zone, putting Ole Miss ahead 34-10 and the ‘Dogs way back on their heels.

Unsung hero: Phillip Thomas, FS

Although the rest of the defense decided not to show up Saturday, Thomas was the lone bright spot on a unit that surrendered 578 total yards. Thomas recorded six tackles, one for a loss, and picked off a Jeremiah Masoli pass early in the third quarter, returning it 39 yards to put Fresno State in a position to climb back into the contest.

Ole Miss sealed the deal when…

…The Rebels recovered Fresno State’s desperation onside kick with 2:30 left to play in the game. Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt then called Brandon Bolden’s number five straight times. On the fifth time Bolden stormed in from 14 yards out and gave his team a 55-38 win at home.

Interesting stat of the game: Coming up empty in field position

In the first half, Fresno State marched into Ole Miss territory on all six of its possessions, but only converted two into points. The other four drives read like this: Punt, punt, missed field goal, fumble. The ‘Dogs were in a 17-point hole at halftime, due in large part to missed opportunities.

Call of the game: Goessling field goal attempt with one second remaining

The game was over, with the ‘Dogs trailing by 17 with almost no time to play, but that didn’t keep head coach Pat Hill from battling until the very end.
Goessling’s kick sailed wide right, but the fact that the Bulldogs fought until the very end says a lot. It was the type of call that a Pat Hill coached squad embodies: Play hard every play.

Dog bone giveaway: Ryan Colburn, RB

Down big on the road in a hostile environment, Colburn looked as solid as he has ever been. With the run game virtually nonexistent, Colburn put the offense on his back and gave Bulldogs fans something to be excited about in an otherwise dismal game. Colburn completed 32-of-42 passes for a career-high 390 yards and four touchdowns, even with two of his starting receivers out with an injury.

What we learned:

A lot can change in one week. What looked so promising in the first two games of the season backfired on the ‘Dogs. The defense was porous, getting shredded for 425 rushing yards and the offense was forced to play catchup for the majority of the contest. The offense was one-dimensional, resting on the left arm of Ryan Colburn and opening absolutely no running lanes for the four running backs. Even the special teams looked out of sync as All-WAC kicker Kevin Goessling made one field goal from 50 yards out, but missed two other attempts, one of which was blocked. Either the ‘Dogs are reeling, or the country needs to put more stock in the Ole Miss attack. We will find out in the coming weeks.

Offensive breakdown:

For the second game this season, Fresno State’s rushing attack was nonexistent and it hurt the Bulldogs more than ever. After an impressive debut by sophomore running back A.J. Ellis last week against Utah State, many expected the ‘Dogs to have no trouble running the ball, especially with the return of Robbie Rouse in the backfield. But the ‘Dogs failed to generate any momemtum on the ground rushing for just 30 yards on 33 carries while averaging less than a yard per attempt. As bad as the running game was, the one bright spot on offense was Colburn and the young receiving corps.
Despite losing experienced players in Devon Wylie and Rashad Evans, Colburn was able to complete over 76 percent of his passes.

Defensive breakdown:

After opening the season with two straight weeks of containing mobile quarterbacks and forcing 10 sacks, the Fresno State defense was looking like it had finally turned things around. Saturday, the Bulldogs took a giant step back. Ole Miss had its way with the Fresno State defense, especially the front seven, piling up nearly 600 yards of offense and dropping 55 points. The Bulldogs haven’t given up that many points since their 2008 road loss to Boise State. Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli engineered an unstoppable attack, highlighted by running back Brandon Bolden’s 228 yards rushing. The Rebels only attempted 12 passes, but hardly needed to. Ole Miss scored on nine of its 13 drives and exposed just about every weakness the Fresno State defense has.

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