Fresno State football to play two Pac-12 teams in 2021 season

The sun sets on Bulldog Stadium during a homecoming game against Colorado State on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (Armando Carreno/The Collegian)

Fresno State will make trips to Autzen Stadium and the Rose Bowl in 2021, as well as welcome Boise State to Bulldog Stadium for the first time since 2017. 

Those are the highlights of the 2021 Fresno State football schedule, released Friday afternoon along with the rest of the Mountain West (MW) football schools.

The Bulldogs kick the season off on Aug. 28 against football independent UConn. It will be the first time ever that the Bulldogs face the Huskies, and Fresno State will travel to Storrs, Connecticut, in 2022 for the back end of the home-and-home series.

Fresno State makes its first road trip of the season to Eugene, Oregon, where it plays the defending Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks on Sept. 4. 

It will be the Ducks’ season opener before they play at Ohio State the next week, but Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal told reporters Tuesday he didn’t want to overlook Fresno State.

“I think naturally when you’re a ball player and you see something like that on your schedule your eyes tend to wander a little bit that way,” Cristobal told The Oregonian. “But it’s not going to take much to realize that we play an excellent Fresno State team right away (on Sept. 4). Our guys know a lot of players on that football, know the proud history and the accolades that this program has acquired over the years. We’ll have no problems getting focused.”

The Bulldogs will also see a familiar face on Oregon’s sidelines — former Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter, now the defensive coordinator at Oregon. 

Fresno State returns home on Sept. 11 to host Division I FCS foe Cal Poly for the third meeting all-time between the schools. Cal Poly quarterback Hunter Raquet will face his former team, as he redshirted a season for the Bulldogs in 2018 before departing the school for Monterey Peninsula College and then Cal Poly.

The final non conference game for Fresno State is against UCLA on Sept. 18 at the Rose Bowl, the Bulldogs’ second trip to the San Gabriel Mountains in four years. 

UNLV opens the conference slate for the Bulldogs, who get the Rebels at home on Sept. 25. Fresno State has won 8 of its last 9 games against UNLV at Bulldog Stadium dating back to 1985, the sole loss coming in 2017.

Fresno State travels to Hawaii to play the Rainbow Warriors on Oct. 2, but not at Aloha Stadium for the first time in 47 years. Hawaii will play its home football games at the Clarence T. Ching Complex for at least the next three years while Aloha Stadium was condemned as unsafe to hold crowds.

Fresno State has its first bye week on Oct. 9 before hitting the road to play the Wyoming Cowboys on Oct. 16. 

Then comes a three-game stretch against a trio of Mountain West title contenders — a home date with the Nevada Wolfpack on Oct. 23, a battle on the road against San Diego State on Oct. 30 and finally, a home matchup with the Boise State Broncos on Nov. 6. 

The Boise State game will be full of coaching reunions. Fresno State wide receivers coach Kirby Moore played at Boise State from 2009-13 and running backs coach Lee Marks played and coached at the same university.

Fresno State linebacker Tyson Maeva will face his former team as well. Maeva started 27 games for Boise State in 2017 and 2018.

The Nov. 6 matchup will be the first time both schools meet since the Bulldogs won the 2018 Mountain West championship in the Boise snow. Both head coaches from that game have since departed, and it will be the first time Kalen DeBoer and Andy Avalos meet each other as head coaches.

The Bulldogs’ home finale is on Nov. 13 against the New Mexico Lobos, followed by another bye week on Nov. 20.

Fresno State closes the regular season against the reigning Mountain West champions, San Jose State, in the annual Battle for the Valley Trophy. San Jose State still holds the trophy after beating the Bulldogs in 2019 and neither team met in 2020 due to the game being canceled.

The Mountain West championship game is scheduled for Dec. 4 at the site of the division winner with the highest conference winning percentage.

All of the games on Fresno State’s schedule are listed for Saturday, but a few could flex to non-Saturday dates once the Mountain West’s national TV partners, CBS Sports and FOX Sports, select which games they will broadcast.

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