New season brings new expectations

Running back Ronnie Rivers running through drills during practice on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (Larry Valenzuela/The Collegian)

The 2018 football season was successful for the Fresno State Bulldogs and head coach Jeff Tedford, who finished the regular season with a 12-2 overall record, including a perfect 6-0 record at home and a 5-2 record as visitors.

The team’s success showed in the final weeks of the season.

First, they won the West division, punching a ticket to the Mountain West Championship where they faced and defeated Boise State 19-16 in overtime, the Bulldogs first victory on the blue turf of Boise since September of 1984. 

Because of their 11-2 record, Tedford’s team was invited to play the Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona State University. The Bulldogs came out victorious, 31-20, ending a great season for the ‘Dogs.

For the 2019 season, Fresno State will be looking to continue their winning ways, this time without their two biggest weapons on offense in quarterback Marcus McMaryion and wide receiver KeeSean Johnson. 

The quarterback position will be filled by senior quarterback Jorge Reyna, who was the backup to McMaryion last season. 

Reyna’s primary go-to players on offense will be tight end Jared Rice and running back Ronnie Rivers, who will look to get similar or better numbers than last season.

On defense, the team will have defensive back Juju Hughes and linebacker Mykal Walker. Both players are currently on several awards watch list.  

In the offseason, the Bulldogs added 34 new players to their rosters, from incoming freshmen to transfers in all field positions. 

Offensive linemen Alex Akingbulu, a transfer from UCLA and incoming freshmen wide receiver Jalen Cropper are two additions that can really help the team early in the season.

The first real test for the Bulldogs will be during week one, when the ‘Dogs travel to Los Angeles to face the University of Southern California Trojans.

This will be the fifth time that both programs have faced each other, with the Trojans having the upper hand, 2-1. The Trojans vacated their 2005 win against the Bulldogs due to the violations of NCAA rules.

The last matchup between both teams, was during the 2014 season opener, with the Trojans defeating the Bulldogs 52-13 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

For the Bulldogs, a win against the Trojans could catapult them into a top 25 ranking in the nation and make a case for them to be placed in the College Football Playoffs if they have a perfect season.

However, a loss would for the ‘Dogs would mean they would be out of any College Football Playoff talk.

The first game of the season will most likely dictate whether the Bulldogs are ready for the upcoming season or whether Tedford will need to make more adjustments to his starting line up.

One of the biggest questions Saturday’s game will answer is whether Reyna can handle the starting quarterback job. 

With two redshirt freshman and two true freshmen on the roster, Reyna is the most experienced quarterback on the team. 

This season’s expectations are high, and from the first game of the season, Tedford and the Bulldogs will have to prove that the last two seasons were no fluke.

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