'Dogs Head to Nevada with MW Championship in Sight
Nov. 5, 2012
Fresno State (7-3, 5-1 MW) at Nevada (6-3, 3-2 MW)
Nov. 10, 2012 Mackay Stadium (29,993) Reno, Nev. 7:30 p.m. PT
Game Day Quick Facts
TELEVISION: NBC Sports Network | Play-by-Play: Todd Harris; Analyst: Blaine Fowler
Comcast Ch. 38 (723 HD); DirectTV Ch. 603; Dish Network Ch. 159; AT&T U-Verse Ch. 640 (1640 HD)
KMJ (AM 580); Bulldog Live (5:30 p.m.), Countdown to Kickoff (7 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
The Fresno State Bulldogs, sitting in a tie for first place in the Mountain West standings, travel to Nevada for its final road game of the season. The 'Dogs and Wolf Pack meet Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Mackay Stadium ... The game is being televised by the NBC Sports Network with Todd Harris (play-by-play) and Blaine Fowler (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 5:30 p.m. and the pregame show starts at 7 p.m. ... Two of the top 20 highest scoring teams in the country will be featured in Saturday's game. Fresno State is scoring 38.3 points per game while Nevada averages 39.6 ... On paper this appears to be a game that will prove who is better - Nevada's offense or Fresno State's defense. The Wolf Pack offense ranks eight nationally by averaging 523.2 yards per game while the Bulldog defense is 23rd nationally giving up just 330.3 yards per game ... Fresno State is looking to snap a four-game losing streak to the Wolf Pack, but the 'Dogs do lead the overall series 24-18-1 ... Junior quarterback Derek Carr continues to rank second nationally with 30 touchdown passes and 3,070 passing yards. Carr has joined Trent Dilfer as the only Bulldog quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards twice in a career.
Safeties Phillip Thomas (7) and Derron Smith (5) have combined to intercept more passes than 94 other FBS teams have this season. The Bulldogs lead the country with 17 total interceptions.
This is Fresno State's 11th-straight game without receiving a bye week.
It Boils Down To This
With two games remaining on the schedule, the Bulldogs control their own destiny in their race to win the Mountain West championship in their first season in the league. The two remaining games will be tough, as Fresno State travels to Nevada this weekend and host Air Force, who is 4-1 in league play, on Nov. 24 in its regular season finale. When head coach Tim DeRuyter was hired on Dec. 14, 2011, he said the No. 1 goal of his program would be to win a conference championship. He now has his team in position to achieve that goal. Fresno State's last conference championship came in 1999 in the WAC.
On A Roll
Fresno State enters the weekend hot, going into what the forecast is calling for a chilly night game in Reno. The Bulldogs have won three in a row and five out of their last six games. Over the three-game winning streak, Fresno State has outscored its opponents 136-56, averaged 491.3 yards of offense while holding opposing teams to an average of 312.3 yards.
Fresno State vs. Nevada - The Series
Fresno State leads the all-time series with Nevada 24-18-1, but the Wolf Pack have won the last four games between the two schools. Fresno State has a 10-10-1 all-time record when playing the Pack in Reno, with its last win at Nevada coming in 2007, 49-41. Saturday's game marks the 15th consecutive season the Bulldogs have Wolf Pack have played. The Bulldogs are 8-6 against Nevada over the last 14 years and 12 of those meetings were league games, as both schools were members of the WAC. Last season, the two teams played on Oct. 22 in Reno and Nevada came away with a 45-38 victory. That game featured 1,103 yards of total offense between the teams. Two costly fumbles, one that Nevada recovered on a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown, and an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown from Rishard Matthews lifted Nevada to its fourth-straight win over the Bulldogs.
Nevada enters the weekend riding a two-game losing streak and is coming off a bye week. The Wolf Pack lost, 39-38 at home to San Diego State on Oct. 20 and then on Oct. 26 fell 48-31 at Air Force. Nevada features one of the most productive offense's in the nation. The Pack are eighth nationally in total offense, averaging 523.2 yards per game and are 14th in scoring at 39.6 points per game. They do it with a fairly balanced attack out of the Pistol, putting up 260.6 yards per game on the ground and 262.7 yards through the air. Defensively, The Wolf Pack allows 31.9 points per game and 432 yards of offense. Nevada has allowed teams to throw for an average of 241.9 yards per game, recorded 18 sacks and has four interceptions on the season.
Familiarity with Nevada
Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter and offensive line coach Cameron Norcross are set to face their former boss Chris Ault on Saturday. DeRuyter was Ault's defensive coordinator from 2005-06. When he was at Nevada, the Wolf Pack went 8-5 in 2006 and 9-3 in 2005, which included a 49-48 overtime victory over Central Florida in the Hawai'i Bowl on Christmas Day, 2005. Nevada beat Fresno State, 28-25 in Reno in 2005, but the Bulldogs won 28-19 the next year in the 2006 season opener in Fresno. Norcross, who also played at Nevada from 1997-99, coached for the Wolf Pack for 11 seasons from the time his playing career ended up to last season. Norcross helped lead Nevada to seven-straight bowl appearances from 2005-11.
Carr Among Nation's Best Quarterbacks
Junior quarterback Derek Carr ranks second nationally with 3,070 passing yards and is tied for second with 30 touchdown passes. His 30 TDs are also tied for the second-most in school history with three other players and behind the 46 that his brother David threw in 2001. Carr is completing 68.2 percent of his passes this season, which ranks 13th nationally among QBs that have attempted at least 200 passes and he only has five interceptions in 390 pass attempts - an interception percentage of just 1.3 percent. Carr is one of five players in the nation this year to have two games with at least 400 pass yards and four passing touchdowns. He has thrown three or more touchdowns in 6-of-10 games this season and has 11 TDs over his last three games - all victories.
Last weekend in a 45-10 win over Hawai'i, Carr was 15-of-23 passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns. That all came in the first half, as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 42-3 halftime lead. It was Carr's eighth career 300-yard game and fourth this season. He was named an honorable mention national quarterback of the week by the College Football Performance Awards for this superb half against the Warriors. Carr also went over 3,000 yards passing last weekend, joining Trent Dilfer as the only Fresno State quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards twice in a career.
Rouse Adds To His Resume
Robbie Rouse, the school's all-time leading rusher, became the first Bulldog in school history to run for over 1,000 yards in three separate seasons. After his 13-carry, 102-yard and one touchdown performance in the win over Hawai'i, he now has rushed 208 times this season for 1,101 yards and 10 touchdowns. Rouse's 100-yard game against Hawai'i was the 19th 100-yard day of his career, moving ahead of Ron Rivers (1991-93) for the most in school history.
Rouse is 19th nationally and fourth in the Mountain West in rushing, averaging 110.1 yards per game this year. He is also second in the league and 20th nationally in all-purpose yards with 146.9 per game. Rouse enters the weekend with 4,985 all-purpose yards, needing 15 more yards to join Bernard Berrian (1999-03) as the only Bulldogs with over 5,000 all-purpose yards in a career.
Approaching Turnover Goal
Fresno State entered the season with a goal of creating 30 turnovers it its new 3-4 defense. The Bulldogs are getting close to hitting their mark, as they have 26 take-aways through 10 games. The 'Dogs are tied for third in the FBS in turnovers gained, trailing Kent State and SMU who both have 28. Fresno State has forced at least one turnover in all 10 games this season and have three or more take-aways in five games. Last weekend against Hawai'i, the Bulldogs got one interception and recovered two fumbles. Fresno State's 17 interceptions leads the nation and are the most since picking off 19 passes in 2002. The Bulldogs have now picked off a pass in eight-straight games, which ties for the longest streak since Fresno State picked off a pass in eight consecutive games from 2002-03 (final six games in '02, first two games in '03).
Fresno State's two safeties, Phillip Thomas and Derron Smith both rank among the top players in the nation in passes intercepted. Thomas' seven picks leads the nation and are two more than any other player in the FBS has. Smith is tied for second nationally with five interceptions, giving Fresno State 12 picks between its two safeties. The two Bulldog safeties, under secondary coach and former NFL All-Pro safety Tim McDonald, have combined to intercept more passes than 94 other FBS teams have this season. Smith picked off his fifth pass in last weekend's win over Hawai'i and he returned it 39 yards. Of Fresno State's 17 interceptions this year, the Bulldogs have returned them for 290 yards and five touchdowns. Fresno State ranks second nationally in interceptions returned for a touchdown (one behind SMU) and is fifth in total return yardage.
Helping out on all the interceptions and fumble recoveries this year has been a sturdy pass rush from the Bulldog defense. Fresno State tied its season-high last weekend with five sacks in a 45-10 win over Hawai'i. The Bulldogs now have 29 sacks on the season, which is nine more than any other school in the Mountain West has and is tied for the ninth-most in the nation. The sacks have been spread out across the board between the defense as well, as 19 different Bulldogs have had a hand on a sack.
Freshman Making An Impact
Making his first career start, redshirt freshman defensive end Todd Hunt had a big impact on the game and did so early in Fresno State's 45-10 victory over Hawai'i. Hunt finished with three tackles, two tackles for a loss and one sack. His first-quarter sack of UH quarterback Sean Schroeder forced him to fumble the ball and the Bulldogs recovered at the Warrior 47-yard line. On the very next play, Fresno State scored to go up 14-0 just seven minutes into the game and the 'Dogs never looked back. Hunt's sack was the first of his career and his two tackles for a loss were also the first of his career. Hunt and the Bulldogs held Hawai'i to just 97 yards in the first half when they held a 42-3 lead at intermission. Hunt's play is quite remarkable considering he tore his ACL back in spring practices last March. He made a speedy recovery and played for the first time this year on Sept. 29 at San Diego State.
A Freshman Record-Setter
Redshirt freshman Davante Adams has become the seventh Bulldog to catch 10 touchdown passes in a season and his 10 TD grabs are the most ever by a Fresno State freshman. His 45-yard touchdown catch last weekend gave him a TD in five-straight games, which ties for the second-longest streak in Mountain West history and the third-longest in Bulldog history. Adams now has 71 receptions for 907 yards and those 10 TDs. His 907 yards are the most ever by a Bulldog freshman and he approaching what would be the 10th 1,000-yard receiving season in school history. Adams has 20 more receptions than any other Mountain West receiver, 232 more receiving yards than any other player in the league and five more touchdowns.
His 71 catches already tie with Charlie Jones' 1995 season for the seventh-most receptions in Fresno State single-season history and he has two games remaining. There have only been two Bulldog receivers to catch over 80 passes in a season. Rodney Wright hauled in 104 passes in 2001 and Bernard Berrian added 85 catches that same year.
Bulldogs Receive Votes in Top 25 Polls
Fresno State received votes in both major top 25 polls this week. The Bulldogs received two points in the AP poll and four points in the USA Today Coaches Poll. This is the second time this season the 'Dogs have received votes, the first coming Sept. 16 when the Bulldogs got one vote in the AP Poll after defeating Colorado 69-14. Fresno State was last nationally ranked in the top 25 on Sept. 28, 2008 at No. 22 in the AP Poll and No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll following a 36-31 win at UCLA.
Burse Needs One Catch For 100
Junior wide receiver Isaiah Burse's next catch will be the 100th of his career. He enters the game with 99 receptions for 1,230 yards and eight touchdowns. This season, Burse is sixth in the Mountain West with 60.4 receiving yards per game. He has caught 46 passes this season for 604 yards, a total that is the fifth most in the conference, and five touchdowns. Last weekend against Hawai'i, Burse had two catches for 87 yards. His first catch was a 56-yard completion and the second was a 31-yard touchdown that gave Fresno State a 42-3 lead 12 seconds before the half. Burse also went over 4,000 all-purpose yards for his career last weekend, becoming the sixth Bulldog surpass that mark.
In Fresno State's seven wins this season, it is averaging 31.4 points in the first half and has outscored opponents 220-64 in the first 30 minutes of the game. In its three losses, it has averaged 8.7 points in the first half and been outscored 69-26 in the first two quarters. The Bulldogs have scored first in 7-of-10 games this season. They also have scored 20 or more points in the first half in 5-of-10 games on the year and are a 6-1 when leading at the half, so you can clearly see that getting off to a good start is a good omen for the Bulldogs.
It's not to say that Fresno State can't overcome a slow start. On Oct. 27 at New Mexico, the Bulldogs trailed UNM 21-0 in the second quarter. Fresno State came back to win that game 49-32, which was Fresno State's largest deficit overcome in a victory since Dec. 18, 1982 when the 'Dogs came back from 21 points down to beat Bowling Green in the California Raisin Bowl II. Also, on Sept. 29 against San Diego State, the Bulldogs faced deficits of 14-0, 21-7 and later 40-36 in the third quarter before winning 52-40.
Fresno State has scored over 40 points in its last three games, averaging 45.3 points in its three-game winning streak. This marks the first time since 2004 that the Bulldogs have put up 40 or more points in three-straight games. In 2004, Fresno State actually scored 40 or more in five-straight games. The program record for the most 40-plus point games in a season is the eight the 1992 team scored. Fresno State this year has scored 40-plus points in 5-of-10 games.
Fresno State is averaging 12.8 points in the first quarter this season and has scored 128 total points in the first 15 minutes of games this season. The Bulldogs have also scored 118 points in the second quarter of games. No other Mountain West team has scored over 100 points in any one quarter this season. Fresno State continues to lead the Mountain West and ranks 12th nationally in third down conversion defense, holding opposing teams to a third-down conversion percentage of 30.38 percent. 15 different Bulldogs have scored a touchdown this season. That is tied for fifth nationally for the most players on one team to have scored at least one touchdown. With 240 career points scored, Robbie Rouse ranks third in program history for most points scored by any Bulldog player who was not a kicker. Ahead of him is Anthony Daigle (266 points) and Ryan Mathews (246 points). Fresno State has already scored 383 points in 10 games this season, which is more it has scored over the past two seasons when they played 13 games both years. Derek Carr leads the MW in pass efficiency with a rating of 157.1. That also ranks 18th nationally.