Football to Play at New Mexico Saturday

Oct. 22, 2012

Fresno State (5-3, 3-1 MW) at New Mexico (4-4, 1-2 MW)
Oct. 27, 2012 • University Stadium (39,224) • Albuquerque, N.M. • 12:30 p.m. PT

Game Day Quick Facts
TELEVISION: CSN California | Play-by-Play: Barry Tompkins; Analyst: Jay Leeuwenburg
Comcast Ch. 34 (721 HD); DirectTV Ch. 698; Dish Network Ch. 409; AT&T U-Verse Ch. 767 (1767 HD)

KMJ (AM 580); Bulldog Live (10:30 a.m.), Countdown to Kickoff (12 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


The Fresno State football team hits the road for the second-to-last time this season when the 'Dogs play at New Mexico on Saturday in a 12:30 p.m. game from UNM's University Stadium ... The game is being televised on CSN California with Barry Tompkins (play-by-play) and Jay Leeuwenburg (analyst) calling the game ... Fans can listen to the Mountain West league 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 10:30 a.m. and the pregame show starts at noon ... Fresno State's second-ranked run defense in the Mountain West will be tested by New Mexico's option running attack. The Lobos are second in the league and rank fifth nationally in rushing at 296.9 yards per game while the Bulldogs only allow 150.1 yards per contest on the ground ... Senior safety Phillip Thomas forced his third fumble of the season and intercepted his seventh pass last weekend. Thomas leads the nation in interceptions and has tied the MW record for most picks in a season .... Quarterback Derek Carr ranks third nationally with 22 touchdown passes and is fifth in total passing yards with 2,350 ... New Mexico ranks 85th nationally in pass defense, allowing 254.2 yards per game through the air and they give up 413.9 yards of total offense per game ... Senior running back Robbie Rouse became the first player in school history to rush for over 4,000 yards in a career last week. He needs one more 100-yard rushing game to tie for the most in Fresno State history.

Bulldog Headlines
• Rashad Evans was named the Punt Returner Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards on Sunday.
• Fresno State is 29th nationally in scoring at 36.1 points per game and 35th in scoring defense at 21.8 ppg.

Fresno State vs. New Mexico - The Series
Fresno State leads the all-time series with New Mexico, 8-4. The Bulldogs are 3-3 when playing in Albuquerque and 5-1 at home in Fresno. The 'Dogs have won the last two games in the series, but the schools have not met since 1998. That was when running back Jaime Kimbrough rushed 20 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns in the win at UNM. From 1992-98, both schools were members of the Western Athletic Conference and Fresno State won four of its five WAC games against the Lobos. The Bulldogs have shown to put up big numbers against UNM, as they have scored over 50 points three times in the 12 games and in 1991, Fresno State set school single-game record with 94 points and 757 yards of total offense in the 94-14 victory in Fresno.

Scouting New Mexico
After winning three total games in the previous three seasons, first-year head coach Bob Davie has already won four games. The Lobos are 4-4 on the year and 1-2 in conference play. UNM had won two-straight before falling at Air Force 28-23 last weekend. In the loss to the Falcons, Kasey Carrier rushed for a Mountain West record 338 yards and he scored three touchdowns. That's the name of the game for New Mexico. Their option rushing attack averages 296.9 yards on the ground, which ranks second in the conference behind Air Force and fifth nationally. The Lobos average 352.8 yards of total offense and 28.6 points. Defensively, UNM is giving up 28.2 points per game and 413.9 yards of offense. Carrier ranks second nationally by averaging 138.3 yards per game and the Lobos are led defensively by linebacker Dallas Bollema, who has a team-high 58 tackles on the season. New Mexico has turned the ball over nine times this year (two interceptions and seven lost fumbles) and has 19 take-aways (six picks and 13 fumbles recovered) to rank second in the MW in turnover margin at plus-10.

Bulldog Run Defense Braces for Option
Fresno State has been very stout defensively this season and they will be up against an option rushing attack this weekend. The Bulldogs enter the game ranked second in the Mountain West by allowing just 150.1 yards per game on the ground. Fresno State is coming off a strong showing against Wyoming, as the 'Dogs held them to 83 yards rushing. It was the third game this season Fresno State has held an opponent under 100 yards on the ground.

New Mexico ranks fifth nationally in rushing at a shade under 300 yards per game. The Bulldogs have already faced one of the nation's premier running teams. The 'Dogs played at No. 4 Oregon on Sept. 8. The Ducks, who now rank No. 4 nationally with 317 rushing yards per game, ran for 366 yards on the Bulldogs. That is a high number, but Fresno State did show well against Oregon. The Ducks had 279 yards rushing in the first half when they held a 35-6 lead, but Fresno State came out in the second half and limited Oregon to only 87 yards on the ground in the second half when they outscored them 17-9. The Bulldogs had 11 tackles for a loss at Oregon back in week two and forced three second-half fumbles, all three of which the 'Dogs recovered. Fresno State has played Oregon closer, losing 42-25, than any other team the undefeated Ducks have faced this year.

Third-Down Defense
Along with having the conference's second-ranked rushing defense, the Bulldogs rank second in the Mountain West in passing defense, total defense and scoring defense. A lot of that success is contributed to Fresno State's ability to get off the field. The Bulldogs lead the Mountain West and rank 11th nationally in third-down defense, holding opponents to a 29.6 conversion rate on third downs. Fresno State is coming off its best game of the season, as last weekend against Wyoming the 'Dogs held UW to just 2-for-17 on third-down plays. Wyoming was 0-for-10 on third downs in the first half alone.

The Other Defensive Key
Along with getting off the field, Fresno State's other key to its strong turn around in its new 3-4 defense is its ability to create turnovers. Through eight games this year, the Bulldogs are tied for fourth nationally with 21 take-aways. This comes after last year when the 'Dogs were tied for last in the nation with nine total turnovers gained, and they have had no more than 15 total take-aways in each of the previous six seasons. Fresno State is second nationally this year with 15 interceptions and it has also recovered six fumbles. The 21 take-aways have directly resulted in 106 points for the Bulldogs. Fresno State has returned five of its 15 interceptions for touchdowns, which has set a new school record and tied the Mountain West record for most pick sixes in a single-season.

Phillip Thomas Having a Record Year
Senior safety Phillip Thomas continues to lead the nation with seven interceptions this year. His seven picks are two more than any other player in the FBS has. Through eight games this season, Thomas' seven picks are already two more than the Bulldogs had as a team in 13 games last year and he has tied the Mountain West single-season record. Here is a look at the records Thomas has set, broken or closing in on this year.

→ His seven interceptions this year ties the MW record, leads the nation by two and are the most by a Bulldog in 27 years.
→ Thomas has returned three interceptions this year for TDs to set a new school record and tie the MW record. Thomas needs just one more INT return for a touchdown to tie the NCAA single-season record.
→ In his career, he has now returned four interceptions for touchdowns. He's set a new school record for pick sixes and needs one more to tie the NCAA record.

In addition to his interceptions, Thomas is tied for the team lead with 52 tackles, he has 6.0 tackles for a loss and 2.0 sacks. With four pass breakups to go with his seven interceptions, he is tied for 24th nationally in passes defended. Thomas has added one quarterback hurry, one fumble recovery and three forced fumbles to his stacked stat line. His three forced fumbles are tied with a host of players for the second-most in the nation - one behind teammate Andy Jennings, who is tied with four other players for the national lead with four forced fumbles.

Carr Ranks No. 3 in the Nation in TD Passes
Fresno State junior quarterback has tossed 22 touchdowns this season, which ranks No. 3 nationally. He has thrown for 2,350 yards, which is 508 yards more than any other Mountain West quarterback and is the fifth most in the country. Carr, who is completing 68.1 percent of his passes this year, became the eighth quarterback in Bulldog history to pass for over 6,000 yards in a career. Carr surpassed the milestone last weekend when he was 32-for-48 passing for 268 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Carr has four games this season with three or more touchdown passes and eight in his career. Carr also went over 500 career completions last weekend and he is 17 attempts from 800 in his career.

Rouse Eclipses 4,000 Yards
Senior running back Robbie Rouse became the first player in school history to rush for over 4,000 yards in a career. Rouse, who owns seven school records, is closing in on his third 1,000-yard rushing season. He has rushed 177 times this year for 879 yards and eight touchdowns, and he ranks 21st nationally with 109.9 yards per game. Rouse needs just 121 yards for 1,000, which would make him the first Bulldog to ever gain over 1,000 yards in three separate seasons. His next 100-yard game will be his 18th 100-yard rushing game, which would tie Ron Rivers for the most 100-yard games in Fresno State history.

RFr. Adams Continues to Lead All Mountain West Receivers
After an 11-catch, 86-yard and one touchdown performance, Bulldog redshirt freshman receiver Davante Adams continues to lead the Mountain West in receptions (56), receptions per game (7.0), receiving yards (616), yards per game (77.0) and touchdown catches (seven). His 56 total receptions are tied for the ninth-most in the nation and his seven touchdowns have him in a tie for 13th nationally. When comparing him to all freshmen in the FBS, Adams ranks fourth in total receiving yards and first in touchdown receptions.

He has caught a TD in three-straight games and he needs one more TD to tie for the 10th most in a season in school history. With his 11-catch game last weekend, Adams became the second receiver in school history to catch 10 or more passes in two different games in the same season. He also had 12 catches at No. 4 Oregon on Sept. 8 and his 12 and 11 catch games are the most receptions in a single-game by a Mountain West player this year. Rodney Wright is the only other Bulldog receiver to ever have a pair of double-digit reception games in the same season. Wright caught 14 passes against Boise State and had 13 receptions vs. Michigan State during the 2001 season.

Evans Named National Punt Returner of the Week
Senior Rashad Evans was named the Punt Returner Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards after he returned four punts for 125 yards and one touchdown in the win over Wyoming. His 78-yard punt return for a TD against the Cowboys is the 10th longest in the nation this year, the 10th longest in school history and the longest by any Mountain West player in 2012. On the next possession after his special teams touchdown, Fresno State forced Wyoming to punt again. Evans made another big play, returning that punt 22 yards to the Wyoming 43-yard line. His fourth and final punt return of the game was a 21-yard return that set the Bulldogs up with the ball at the Wyoming 14-yard line early in the second quarter. In addition to his special teams play, Evans also caught a touchdown pass in the victory. Evans has returned 10 punts for a 14.1 average this season. He has also caught 20 passes in four games for 159 yards and four touchdowns. In addition to his season numbers, Evans has moved into a tie for 10th place for the most receptions in school history with 124. He has 1,166 career receiving yards, 11 touchdown receptions and now has two punt returns that have gone for TDs in his career.

Interception Streak Reaches Six
Fresno State has intercepted a pass in six-straight games. That is longest streak of picks in consecutive games for a single-season since Fresno State also intercepted a pass in six-straight games during the 2002 season. In fact, the 2002 team had two different stretches of six games with a pick during that 14-game season. Fresno State intercepted a pass in each of the final six games in 2002 and then picked off a pass in the first two games during the 2003 season, giving the program a streak of eight-straight games with a pick. That streak would seem to be in jeopardy this weekend, as New Mexico is averaging just 12 pass attempts per game.

Alston Grabs Second Pick
Sophomore cornerback Sean Alston picked off his second pass of the season last weekend against Wyoming. He was able to return the interception 53 yards to the Cowboy 22-yard line. Alston's pick was his first since the season opener on Sept. 1. For the season, Alston has 29 tackles and one tackle for a loss.

Dean Has Another Big Game
One week after setting a career-high with seven catches against Boise State, sophomore wide receiver Victor Dean set a new personal-best with eight catches against Wyoming last weekend. Dean's eight receptions against the Cowboys went for 78 yards and he scored one touchdown - a 19-yard scoring play in the first quarter. It was his first touchdown reception of the season and the third of his career. After seeing limited action in the first five games of the season, he has now caught 17 passes for 164 yards in the last three games, the past two of which he started. Dean has 23 receptions for 301 yards this season and is averaging 13.1 yards per catch.

Jennings Maintains Mountain West Lead
Defensive end Andy Jennings had two tackles for a loss and four total tackles last weekend in the win over Wyoming. His two stops behind the line of scrimmage gave him 10 for the season. Jennings continues to lead the Mountain West in tackles for a loss, as he is one ahead of San Diego State's Nick Tenhaeff. Jennings has emerged as a top playermaker on the defensive front. He is tied for the national lead with four forced fumbles this season, is fifth in the Mountain West with 4.5 sacks and he has 27 tackles on the year.

20+ Sacks, 10+ Interceptions
Fresno State is one of seven schools in the country that has 20 or more sacks on the season and 10 or more interceptions, but the Bulldogs are the only non-BCS school that fits into this category. Oregon, USC, LSU, Cal, UCLA and Arizona State are the other schools with 20 or more sacks and 10 or more interceptions on the year. If you add the two totals up, USC leads the eight schools in this category with 41 (14 interceptions, 27 sacks), ASU is second with 38 (10 interceptions and 28 sacks) and the Bulldogs are third (15 interceptions and 22 sacks) with 37. When you increase the limit, Fresno State is the only school in the nation that has posted 15 or more interceptions and 20 or more sacks this year.

• Fresno State ranks 11th nationally and second in the MW in pass efficiency defense at 102.6. The Bulldogs have allowed opponents to complete just 52.6 percent of their passes this season, which is the lowest opposing completion percentage in the league and the 12th lowest in the nation.
• Phillip Thomas' 11 passes defended this year (four pass breakups, seven interceptions) are tied for the most in the MW. Sean Alston (six breakups, two interceptions) has eight, L.J. Jones has seven (all breakups) and Derron Smith (four interceptions, two pass breakups) has six passes defended. That's a total of 32 passes defended from Fresno State's starting secondary, or four per game.
• Derek Carr moved into seventh place for the most touchdown passes in school history last weekend when his three TD tosses gave him 48 for his career. Carr needs three more to move ahead of Mark Barsotti for sixth place.
• Carr has spread the ball around equally this season, as Fresno State has six players who have all caught 20 or more passes and seven different players have over 100 yards receiving on the year.
• Robbie Rouse and Isaiah Burse both rank in the top 10 in the Mountain West in all-purpose yardage. Rouse is second in the league and 19th nationally with 147 all-purpose yards per game (1,176 total). Burse is seventh in the MW and 45th nationally with 127.0 yards per game (1,016 total). Rouse and Burse are one of just two teammates in the league to rank in the top 10. UNLV's Tim Cornett and Marcus Sullivan ranks eighth and ninth in all-purpose yards per game.
• Fresno State ranks second in the Mountain West in kickoff coverage with a net of 40.8 yards per kickoff. The Bulldogs have allowed 685 yards on 38 returns by their opponents for an average of only 18 yards.
• Rashad Evans' 125 yards on punt returns last weekend vs. Wyoming are 63 more yards gained than any other player in the league has this year and he has the only punt return for a touchdown this year. Hawai'i's Ne'Quan Phillips returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, but no other punt returner has brought one back. If Evans was eligible (he has not played in enough games to count in the MW standings), his 14.1 punt return average would rank No. 2 in the league behind Nevada's Khalid Wooteh, who has averaged 15.6 yards on 11 punt returns.