'Dogs Host SDSU in First-Ever MW Game

Sept. 24, 2012

San Diego State, (2-2,0-0 MW) at Fresno State (2-2, 0-0 MW)
Sept. 29, 2012 • Bulldog Stadium (41,031) • Fresno, Calif. • 7 p.m. PT

Game Day Quick Facts
KUSI-TV [San Diego local] | Play-by-Play: Ari Wolfe; Analyst: J.J. Stokes;

KMJ (AM 580); Bulldog Live (5 p.m.), Countdown to Kickoff (6:30 p.m.) | Play-by-Play: Paul Loeffler; Analyst: Jordan Christensen; Sideline:Ralph Wood

ESPN Deportes (1600 AM) in Spanish | Play-by-Play: Erwin Higueros; Analyst: Jesse Beltran; Sideline: Jose Salas

: INTERNET AUDIO & LIVE STATS: gobulldogs.com

Fresno State and San Diego State are set to meet for the 52nd time in the series on Saturday when the 'Dogs host the Aztecs on Homecoming weekend for a 7 p.m. game in Bulldog Stadium ... This is the first-ever Mountain West league game for Fresno State ... Fans can listen to the game on the radio at KMJ 580 AM with the Bulldog Sports Network team of Paul Loeffler (play-by-play), Jordan Christensen (analyst) and Ralph Wood (sideline reporter). Bulldog Live begins at 5 p.m. and the pregame show starts at 6:30 ... It is homecoming weekend at Fresno State and former Bulldogs Ron Rivers (1991-93) and Michael Pittman (1993-97) are serving as the honorary captains for the game ... Additionally, it is the `Bring It Home' Football Alumni Weekend and all the former Bulldogs returning will form a tunnel for the team to run out onto the field prior to the start of the game ... Fresno State has forced 11 turnovers this year in four games, already two more than it forced in 13 games last season ... The 'Dogs are second nationally with eight interceptions and their four pick six's are two more than any other team in the FBS has ... Senior running back Robbie Rouse has run for over 100 yards in all four games this year and is fourth nationally in total rushing yards with 517 ... In two home games this season, Fresno State is averaging 53 points and 590 yards of offense while outscoring opponents 106-24.

Bulldog Headlines
• Senior running back Robbie Rouse is tied for fourth nationally in scoring with 12.0 points per game and his eight total touchdowns are the second most of any player in the FBS.
• Fresno State leads the MW in turnovers forced (11) and turnover margin (+7).
• The Fresno State and SDSU coaching staffs will be wearing Coach to Cure MD patches this week to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.

What A Turnover Turnaround
After only recording nine take aways in 13 games last season, Fresno State has already surpassed that number through four games this year. The Bulldogs have forced 11 turnovers (eight INT, three fumbles recovered) - just under four per game under head coach Tim DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth. To put that in comparison, Fresno State has not forced more than 15 turnovers in an entire season in each of the past six seasons and the 'Dogs have ranked 111th or worse nationally in turnovers gained in every one of those years. This season, Fresno State ranks eighth nationally in turnovers gained. The best Fresno State has ranked in the 12 previous seasons since the turn of the century in turnovers gained was in a tie for second in 2001 when the 'Dogs forced 36 turnovers. Fresno State's also forced 32 turnover in 2002 and 29 in 2004, which ranked the 'Dogs in a tie for eighth nationally that year.

Fresno State in 2012 is tied for second nationally with eight interceptions, which already ties for the most picks the 'Dogs have had in the five previous seasons. The Bulldogs seem to be learning from secondary coach Tim McDonald, who in his 13-year NFL career intercepted 40 passes and returned four of them for touchdowns. Fresno State has returned two interceptions for touchdowns in each of the last two games and the Bulldogs' four total pick six's are two more than any team in the FBS has. Only Division III Endicott College, located near Boston, Ma., has returned three interceptions for TDs among all NCAA schools (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III).

Fresno State vs. San Diego State - The Series
Saturday's game between the Aztecs and Bulldogs will be the 52nd meeting all-time between the schools. San Diego State won 35-28 over Fresno State last year at Qualcomm Stadium, which was the first game played in the series since 2002. The Bulldogs won that 2002 game played in Fresno, 16-14. The win was preserved by freshman back-up cornerback Raymond Washington, who blocked Tommy Kirovski's 31-yard field-goal attempt as time expired. Prior to that 2002 game, SDSU had won the four previous match-ups from 1995-98. The series began in 1923 and the two teams played one another every year from 1945-1979 with SDSU winning 20 of the 35 games with three ties. The Bulldogs won eight-straight games over the Aztecs from 1954-61, while SDSU reeled off nine-straight from 1962-70 and won 14-of-15 from `62-76. Fresno State is 11-12-2 all-time vs. SDSU at home.

Scouting San Diego State
San Diego State is coming off a 8-5 record in 2011 when the Aztecs played in their second-consecutive bowl game, which was the school's first back-to-back appearances since the 1966 and '67 seasons. SDSU was picked to finish fifth in the 2012 Mountain West preseason poll. San Diego State returns 13 starters and 40 letterwinners for its final season in the Mountain West, as the Aztecs will join the BIG EAST Conference for football in 2013. After dropping a 21-12 decision at Washington to open the 2012 season, SDSU came back with three-straight home games, winning two of them. Saturday's game at Fresno State will be their first road contest in 28 days. SDSU fell 38-34 at home last weekend when San Jose St. racked up 484 yards (271 rushing, 213 passing) on the Aztecs.

A New Era in the Mountain West
Tonight's contest is Fresno State's first-ever Mountain West league game. After spending the past 20 seasons as members of the Western Athletic Conference, the Bulldogs joined the Mountain West on July 1, 2012. Over the last 35 years, the 'Dogs have won their first conference game of a season 25 times. Fresno State is 2-0 in its last two conference openers, defeating Idaho 48-24 last year and Utah State 41-24 in 2010.

Rouse Ranks Fourth Nationally in Rushing
Senior running back Robbie Rouse's 517 yards rushing in four games is the fourth-most in the nation. With four 100-yard rushing efforts to open the year, Rouse ranks seventh nationally with 129.3 yards per game. He now has 16 career 100-yard rushing games, which is tied with Ryan Mathews for the second-most in school history and is tied for fourth nationally among all players in the FBS. Rouse, who became the school's all-time leading rusher two weeks ago against Colorado, also ranks second nationally on the NCAA active career rushing leaders list.

With two career rushing records under his belt and being tied for having the longest run in school history, Rouse is closing in on several other program records. He needs eight more rushing touchdowns to tie Mathews' school record of 39, eight more total touchdowns to tie Anthony Daigle's school record of 44 total touchdowns scored and 50 more total points to tie Daigle for the most points scored by any Bulldog who is not a kicker. Rouse is on pace for a 1,552-yard rushing season, which would make him the first Bulldog in program history to run for over 1,000 yards in three separate seasons.

Getting Defensive
Last week in the Tulsa game, Fresno State held the Golden Hurricane to 160 yards under their per-game rushing average and 171 yards of total offense under their season average. Tulsa entered the game ranked 10th nationally in rushing at 285.7 ypg, 14th in scoring at 44.7 ppg and 18th in total offense at 525 ypg, but Fresno State held the Golden Hurricane to 126 yards rushing, 27 points and 354 yards of offense. Tulsa converted only 5-of-21 third-down attempts and completed only 14-of-38 (.368) passes on the Bulldog secondary. For the season, Fresno State is allowing 23.2 points per game and 360.8 yards of offense. The Bulldogs rank second in the Mountain West in scoring defense and total defense.

Bulldog Secondary Shutting Down the Aerial Attack
Last season, Fresno State allowed 269.2 passing yards per game and gave up 21 touchdowns. This year, the Bulldogs rank second in the Mountain West by allowing 193.5 passing yards per game. Opposing teams are completing only 54.3 percent of its passes against Fresno State and the 'Dogs rank second in the MW in pass efficiency defense. Cornerbacks L.J. Jones and Sean Alston have been a major part of Fresno State's success defending the passing game. Jones is second in the MW with five pass breakups and he had two last weekend at Tulsa. Alston has one interception and three pass breakups this season. Then you add in safeties Phillip Thomas and Derron Smith, and the Bulldog secondary is one strong unit. Thomas leads the MW and is tied for sixth nationally with three interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Smith is one of three other players in the league that has two interceptions this season, as he has picked off a pass in each of the past two games.

Okpalaugo Coming On Strong
Senior outside linebacker Tristan Okpalaugo led the Fresno State defense in a strong effort against a Tulsa team that had one of the top offense's in the country. Okpalaugo finished with six solo tackles, one tackle for a loss, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry and his first career interception, which he returned 21 yards for a touchdown. It was one of two defensive touchdowns for the Bulldogs on the day - the second week in a row Fresno State has posted two pick six's on defense. For the season, Okpalaugo is third on the team with 21 tackles and he leads the 'Dogs with 6.0 tackles for a loss and two sacks.

Quick Starts
Fresno State has been quick out of the gates this year, as the Bulldogs are averaging 18 points in the first quarter. Fresno State has scored 72 total points in the first 15 minutes of games, which accounts for 46 percent of its 157 total points scored on the season. Fresno State has been the first team to score in all four of its games this year and has outscored its opponent by 51 points in the first quarter this year.

Carr Climbing on All-Time Bulldog Passing Lists
Junior quarterback Derek Carr has moved into 10th place on the school's all-time passing list with 4,719 yards in his career. Carr has completed 63.7 percent of his passes, which is the highest completion percentage in school history. He has 35 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in his career and is tied with Jeff Tedford, the current head coach at Cal, for the eighth-most TD passes in school history.

This season, Carr's nine touchdowns to one interception is the highest TD-INT ratio in the Mountain West. He is averaging 265.8 yards passing per game, which ranks second in the MW, and is completing 66.7 percent of his passes. Last year in seven WAC games, Carr completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 2,162 yards and 19 TDs against five interceptions. Over his last 11 games, dating back to the final seven games of the 2011 season, Carr has completed 253-of-389 (65 percent) of his passes for 3,190 (290 ypg) yards with 25 TDs against five interceptions.

Evans Returns This Week
Fresno State's offense get a major boost this weekend with the return of senior wide receiver Rashad Evans. Evans missed the first four games of the season after being ruled ineligible at the start of the season. Bringing in the most experienced receiver and one of the fastest receivers to an already deep and talented group should help the Bulldog passing game get back to firing on all cylinders. Evans, a fifth-year senior, has 104 receptions in his career for 1,007 yards and seven touchdowns. He is also expected to help out returning punts, as he entered the season atop the depth chart to return punts.

Harper Nets First 100-Yard Game
Sophomore wide receiver Josh Harper caught a game-high seven passes for 115 yards and one touchdown at Tulsa last weekend. It was Harper's first career 100-yard receiving game and the third by a Bulldog in 2012. Harper's touchdown was his second in the last two games and came from 32 yards out in the first quarter. After missing the season opener with an injury and being limited in week two at Oregon, Harper has now caught 12 passes for 167 yards and the two TDs in the last two games. For his career, he has 49 receptions for 690 yards with seven touchdowns and he averages 14.1 yards per catch.

Patrick Su'a Locking Up the Middle
Junior middle linebacker Patrick Su'a has preformed well for the Bulldogs in his first season as a starter. Su'a, who was a special teams captain for Fresno State last year, did start three games at outside linebacker in 2011. With the implementation of the new 3-4 defense this year, Su'a moved into a starting role at inside linebacker. Last weekend at Tulsa he made arguably the biggest play of his career when he intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. It was his first career interception. Su'a is fourth on the team this year with 21 tackles and he has one sack, 2.0 tackles for a loss in addition to one quarterback hurry, one pass breakup and one forced fumble - a solid stat line.

Friendly Confines
Fresno State's offense has averaged 53 points in two home games this year. The 'Dogs have averaged 252.5 yards rushing, 337.5 passing and 590.0 of total offense in two games at Bulldog Stadium. Running back Robbie Rouse is averaging 133.5 yards at home with six total touchdowns. Quarterback Derek Carr is connecting on 78.7 percent of his passes at home, has thrown for 598 total yards in two games and seven touchdowns, three of which were 35 yards or longer. Receivers Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse have also put up big numbers in the two home games, as they have combined for 20 catches for 385 yards and four touchdowns. Adams has 11 receptions for 192 yards and three TDs and Burse has nine catches for 193 yards and one 97-yard touchdown reception. Making it all happen is the offensive line that has only allowed one sack at home and guided the Bulldogs to an 8.9 per play average.

• Senior running back Robbie Rouse ran for 135 yards on 27 carries with one touchdown against Tulsa. Rouse did not have a single rush that went for negative yardage against the Tulsa defense that came into the game leading the FBS in tackles for a loss. Rouse averaged 5.0 yards per run with his long rush being a 37-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
• Senior punter Andrew Shapiro punted 10 times in the game at Tulsa for a 43.9 average and the Bulldogs netted 38.0 yards off his punts. Three of his punts were over 50 yards with his longest being a 58 yarder and he downed two inside the 20-yard line. Shapiro is averaging 42.6 yards per kick this year and has six punts of over 50 yards. He now has 18 career punts that have traveled 50 yards or further.
• Phillip Thomas' 10 tackles last weekend at Tulsa set a new career-high for the senior. He also recorded two pass breakups in the game for the fourth time in his career.
• Redshirt freshman Davante Adams continues to lead the Mountain West in both receptions (28) and receiving yards (335). He ranks 23rd nationally with 7.0 receptions per game and 38th with 83.8 yards per game.
• Derek Carr needs 281 more passing yards to become the ninth quarterback in school history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a career. Carr has also thrown at least one touchdown pass in 11-straight games and thrown for at least one in 16-of-17 career starts. He has five career games with three or more TD passes.
• Fresno State has intercepted seven passes over the last two games. That is the most passes picked off in consecutive games since the end of the 2002 season and beginning of the 2003 season. In 2002, the 'Dogs ended the year with seven picks in their last two games (one at LA Tech and six vs. Georgia Tech in the Silicon Valley Football Classic III). Then to open the 2003 season, the Bulldogs intercepted seven passes in their first two games (two at Tennessee and five vs. Oregon State).