July 28, 2009
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State Athletics has had many memorable moments during its history. Each day during the month of July, Gobulldogs.com will highlight a great moment from Fresno State Athletics history.
July 28: Fresno State Defeats USC, 24-7, in 1992 Freedom Bowl
At the time the 1992 Freedom Bowl against No. 23 USC was considered the biggest football game in Fresno State football history. The Bulldogs had already had a successful season as they earned a share of the WAC title in their first year in the conference.
Prior to the start of the game coach Jim Sweeney said, "This is our first venture into the big time."
The luster of playing a school that had won 12 national championships, produced four Heisman Trophy winners, 115 All-Americans and 18 student-athletes in the College Football Hall of Fame winners excited Bulldog fans. The buzz showed in the attendance as at least 30,000 of the 50,745 fans were wearing Bulldog red. The end result was a 24-7 victory.
It was a victory that officially put Fresno State football on the map and it showed that the Bulldogs could play with the "big name" schools.
The win brought great pride to the Valley and many people compared the victory to the men's basketball team winning the 1982-83 NIT championship. The headline of the Los Angeles Times the day after the victory was "Fresno Teaches USC Humility 101." In the Orange County Register the headline read, "Fresno relishes taste of Freedom."
Quarterback Trent Dilfer had this to say on the victory, "Words cannot explain what this means to the city of Fresno and Fresno State. We're on the map now - for good." On the map they were as the Bulldogs finished the year 9-4 and ranked No. 22 in the country.
On the field, coach Jim Sweeney said his 1992 team had the weakest defense in six years but nobody would have ever guessed it on December 29 as the Bulldog defense was ranked 98th intercepted three passes and limited USC to 183 total yards. Lorenzo Neal was named the games' Most Valuable Player as he rushed for 75 yards on 19 carries.
Dilfer and Neal went on to have successful NFL careers. Dilfer played 14 seasons in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 while Neal has played 16 seasons in the NFL with his most recent stint with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. Sweeny finished his coaching career with 200 wins, 143 coming during his time at Fresno State. Sweeney was also 5-2 in bowl games.
Coming tomorrow: Jim Sweeney earns win No. 200 for his career.
"We Are Your Team" - For Fresno State ticket information log onto gobulldogs.com or call 559-278-DOGS.
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