With four games left on the schedule, Fresno State controls its own destiny and has an opportunity to cement itself as the clear No. 2 team in the Mountain West on Saturday when Boise State comes to town.
Fresno State’s rivalry matchup against the Broncos comes on the heels of both teams having impressive wins last weekend.
The big picture: At 7-1, Fresno State has a clear path to double digit wins for the third year in a row, and the Bulldogs are tied with Boise State and UNLV – behind Air Force – with a 3-1 record in conference play.
- The Bulldogs own the tiebreaker with UNLV after beating the Rebels 31-24 a couple days ago and can hit a knockout blow to Boise State this weekend, putting them next to Air Force at the top of the Mountain West.
- Despite Boise State’s good start in the Mountain West, the Broncos are 4-4 on the year with losses to Washington, UCF, Memphis and Colorado State.
- Fresno State will be tested by Boise State’s strong ground game, which is averaging nearly 200 rushing yards per game. That attack is led by Ashton Jeanty, the top rusher in the Mountain West at 115 yards per game – 921 in total – and 11 touchdowns.
- The Broncos also utilize two quarterbacks – Taylen Green and Maddux Madsen. Green has around double the amount of pass attempts that Maddux has and is a threat with his legs, averaging over 5.5 yards per rush. They have both thrown for 6 touchdowns, but Maddux only has 2 interceptions compared to 5 for Green. Maddux also boasts a 67 percent completion rate, while Green sits just under 53 percent.
Player of the week: Fresno State safety Dean Clark was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.
- He led the defense against UNLV – along with linebacker Levelle Bailey – grabbing 1 interception and recovering a fumble.
- Both of Clark’s turnovers came in a dominant third quarter that saw the Bulldogs go 24-0 against the Rebels over that period to take the lead.
What they’re saying: Along with Clark’s strong performance, Bailey shined once again with his third game-ending interception, a rarity among college football, especially for a linebacker.
- Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Monday that Bailey has been a phenomenal player, showcasing his athleticism and reaction time with the latest interception.
- “I said it to the staff yesterday – in all my years of coaching I’ve never been around one individual player that has made three significant plays like that at the end of the game that directly impacted the win,” Coyle said. “Never seen it before, and [he] just continues to come up on big plays.”
- Head Coach Jeff Tedford was asked about how the support of the Red Wave helped propel the team to victory over UNLV. He praised the fans for getting loud on third downs, but urged the Red Wave to come out in force this week to help make life difficult for the Broncos.
- “For whatever reason it seemed like a lot of people had left the stadium. And I get that it was a late game, but we really – we get loud in our stadium typically on third down or giving out pizza or the hot dog race,” Tedford said. “We need it loud on first and second down. We need it loud on every single down.”