Sept. 12, 2011
North Dakota (1-1, 0-0 GWC) at Fresno State (0-2, 0-0 WAC)
Sept. 17, 2011 Bulldog Stadium (41,031) Fresno, Calif. 7 p.m. PT
Game Day Quick Facts
TELEVISION: ESPN3.com - Play-by-Play: Trey Bender; Analyst: Jay Taylor
RADIO: KMJ (AM 580); Bulldog Live (2:30 p.m.) Countdown to Kickoff (3:30 p.m.).- Play-by-Play: Paul Loeffler; Analyst: Jordan Christensen; Sideline: Ralph Wood
ESPN Deportes (1600 AM) in Spanish - Play-by-Play: Erwin Higueros; Analysts: Raul Rios and Jesse Beltran
INTERNET AUDIO & LIVE STATS: gobulldogs.com
After opening the season with two games on the road, the Bulldogs return to Fresno this weekend to host North Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 17, in the 2011 home opener ... Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium is set at 7 p.m. and tickets are still available ... The Bulldog Sports Network is broadcasting the game on KMJ-AM 580 and ESPN3.com, ESPN's internet-based broadcast service, is streaming the game ... Saturday will be the first football game played on the new FieldTurf at Bulldog Stadium ... Devon Wylie was named the national punt returner of the week by the College Football Performance Awards after he returned five punts for 110 yards, including a 67-yard return for a touchdown last week at No. 10 Nebraska ... Saturday's game begins a stretch for Fresno State where four out of its next five games are at home ... The Bulldogs have a 62-18 record at home over the past 14 seasons ... Junior running back Robbie Rouse is leading the Western Athletic Conference in rushing, as he is averaging 127.5 yards per game and 4.8 yards per rush ... Defensively, Fresno State has forced two turnovers in each of its first two games and sophomore cornerback L.J. Jones has two interceptions and is tied for third nationally with five passes defended ... Sophomore quarterback Derek Carr threw for 254 yards last weekend at No. 10 Nebraska and had one touchdown rushing and one passing ... The Bulldogs had 444 yards of total offense last weekend against the Huskers. Last year Fresno State had four games with 400-plus yards of offense..
Fresno State has won 12-of-14 home openers under head coach Pat Hill.
This is the first-ever meeting between the University of North Dakota and Fresno State.
The light switch for the Bulldog offense was turned on last weekend against the vaunted Nebraska defense. Fresno State racked up 444 yards of total offense on 81 plays and scored 29 points on the Huskers, who only allowed 17.4 points per game in 2010. Those 29 points are the most that Nebraska has given up to a non-conference opponent since Virginia Tech scored 35 points at Nebraska in 2008. The Bulldogs had 190 yards rushing in the game and 254 passing. Of the 81 plays that Fresno State ran, only one went for negative yards and that came when quarterback Derek Carr had his foot stepped on by an offensive lineman when he was dropping back to pass. After converting just 2-of-14 third downs in the first game of the season at Cal, the Bulldogs showed great improvement against the 10th-ranked Huskers by going 9-of-20 on third downs. Finally, Fresno State's offense did not turn the ball over once in the game. Its only turnover came on Derron Smith's interception return, when he fumbled the ball back over to the Huskers near the end of the first quarter.
The North Dakota Fighting Sioux
North Dakota is in its fourth season under head coach Chris Mussman. Like the Bulldogs, UND is in the last year of its conference. It moves from the Great West Conference to the Big Sky Conference in 2012. North Dakota won the 2001 NCAA Division II National Championship under then head coach Dale Lennon, and Mussman was an assistant on that staff. UND made the jump up to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision ranks in 2008. Since moving up in divisions, North Dakota has posted a 15-17 record over the past three seasons, including a 3-8 campaign in 2010. Phil Jackson, a legendary NBA player and coach, is a notable alum of the University of North Dakota.
The Fighting Sioux enter the weekend with a 1-1 record, having shutout Drake 16-0 in the season opener and falling at Idaho last weekend, 44-14. UND averages 238.5 yards of offense (86 rushing, 152.5 passing) while giving up 334 yards on average through two games.
Fresno State vs. North Dakota - The Series
Fresno State and North Dakota are meeting for the first time in the history of both programs. The Fighting Sioux are the second of two-straight opponents that the Bulldogs have never faced, as Fresno State played Nebraska for the first time last weekend.
The Bulldogs against FCS Schools
Fresno State and head coach Pat Hill have won all games against FCS schools (formerly known as Division I-AA), and have done so by an average margin of victory of 28 points. Last year the Bulldogs defeated Cal Poly at home, 38-17, on Oct. 2. Of those eight games against the FCS, six of them have come in the home opener. This meeting between Fresno State and North Dakota will be the first ever in the history of the two schools.
Fresno State History in Home Openers
Fresno State has won 12 of its 14 home openers under head coach Pat Hill. Included in those 12 victories are wins over BCS schools Cincinnati (2010) and Oregon State (2001 and '03). The Bulldogs' two losses were both by three points and the most recent one in 2008 was to No. 10 Wisconsin. Fresno State has averaged 38,632 fans in its 14 home openers under Hill with four of those games drawing over 40,000. Looking back at the last 20 years, Fresno State has a 18-2 record in home openers. The other loss in that time was the 1998 loss to Nevada. The last home-opening loss before that was way back in 1983, when Bowling Green defeated the Bulldogs, 35-27, on Sept. 10.
Rouse Goes for 169 Against Nebraska
Robbie Rouse ran 36 times for 169 yards against No. 10 Nebraska, averaging 4.7 yards per carry on the Husker defense that only allowed 60 rushing yards in their first game of the season. It was Rouse's fifth-career 100-yard rushing game and his fourth going for over 150 yards. Through the first two weeks of the season, Rouse leads the WAC and is 13th in the nation in rushing with 127.5 yards per game. He is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has only been tackled behind the line of scrimmage one time in his 53 rushing attempts. Those 53 carries lead the league and his 36 attempts against Nebraska last weekend are the second-most he's had in a game in his career, seven behind the 43 carries he had last year at Louisiana Tech when he rushed for 286 yards. That 286-yard game is the second-highest single-game rushing total in school history. Rouse, Michael Pittman, Rodney Davis and Ron Rivers are the only running backs in school history with two, 200-yard rushing games.
Wylie Named the National Punt Returner of the Week
Senior wide receiver Devon Wylie was named the national punt returner of the week by the College Football Performance Awards after he returned five punts for 110 yards and had one 67-yard return for a touchdown against Nebraska. His punt return for a TD was the first by a Bulldog since Oct. 24, 2009, when Chastin West returned a punt 88 yards for a score at New Mexico State. It was the first punt return for a touchdown that Nebraska has allowed since Oct. 20, 2001, when Texas Tech's Wes Welker had an 85-yard touchdown return. Wylie has returned eight punts this year for an average of 15.5 yards, which ranks No. 14 in the nation and second in the WAC. Wylie has also caught nine passes for a team-high 125 yards this season, and for his career he has 51 receptions for 736 yards and seven touchdowns.
Debut of the New Turf
Fresno State's Bulldog Stadium received a face lift this summer, as FieldTurf was installed to replace the natural grass. Saturday's game marks the first football game on the new turf. As an entirely privately-funded endeavor through the Bulldog Foundation, the FieldTurf Revolution surface will allow for a facility to be used during any type of weather. The playing surface no longer has the prominent crown on the field while maintenance and upkeep is significantly less than a grass field in terms of no mowing or water necessary, minimal preparation for practice and games, and painting the field for competitive use is no longer needed.
Jones with Two Interceptions in Two Games
Sophomore cornerback L.J. Jones has intercepted a pass in each of the first two games this season, which were the first two starts of his career. Jones has become the first Bulldog to intercept a pass in back-to-back games since James Sanders did so in the first two games of the 2004 season. Sanders had two picks in the season opener at Washington and then intercepted one pass at No. 14 Kansas State to lead the `Dogs to a pair of road victories. Jones ranks third nationally with five passes defended (three pass breakups and his two interceptions) and he is one of 16 players in the country with two or more picks (Rutgers defensive back Duron Harmon leads the nation with three interceptions).
Forcing Turnovers - A Welcome Sight
Fresno State's defense has forced four turnovers in two games this season - two apiece in each game. The Bulldogs have three interceptions and one fumble recovery, which was for a touchdown against California in the season opener. In each of the previous five seasons, the Bulldogs forced 15 turnovers or less and ranked at or below No. 111 nationally in turnovers gained in each of those seasons. It appears that Fresno State is back to the level it was at in 2004, when the `Dogs ranked eighth nationally by forcing 29 turnovers. The most encouraging thing about this season is that the Bulldogs have been close to forcing several more. Last weekend at Nebraska, Fresno State forced three fumbles that were not recovered. In fact, the Bulldogs have forced five fumbles in all this season, but have recovered just the one for the touchdown.
Harper Grabs Another TD
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Harper caught two passes for 33 yards and one touchdown last weekend against Nebraska, giving him a touchdown reception in each of the first two games of his career. Harper's touchdown against the Huskers was a 26-yard leaping catch in the fourth quarter that brought the Bulldogs within two of Nebraska, 28-26. Harper is the first Bulldog since Bear Pascoe in 2007 to have a touchdown reception in each of the first two games of the season. Pascoe had one TD against Sacramento State in the 2007 season opener and then caught three touchdown passes in a two-point, triple overtime loss at Texas A&M. Pascoe, a junior in 2007, did not have another TD catch that season. Pascoe and Harper are the only Fresno State players in the last 10 years with TD receptions in each of the first two games of the season. Harper this year has five catches for 55 yards and his two scores.
Carr Spreading the Ball Around Evenly
Sophomore quarterback Derek Carr has looked sharp through two games and made a number of big plays last weekend at No. 10 Nebraska, when he threw for 254 yards with one touchdown passing, one rushing and no interceptions. Carr has completed 41-of-71 passes this year for 404 yards and two TDs against one pick. He has spread the ball out evenly between his receivers, as nine different players have caught a pass in the first two weeks. Against the Huskers, Carr hooked up with eight different receivers on completions and in the season opener against Cal, seven different Bulldogs had a catch.
Winning in the Trenches
The Fresno State offensive line had a nearly perfect game last weekend against the vaunted defensive front from the 10th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Bulldogs did not give up a sack and quarterback Derek Carr was only knocked down once in the game where Fresno State ran 81 plays. What is as equally impressive is that they are doing it all at less than 100 percent. Center Richard Helepiko missed the Nebraska game and left guard Matt Hunt went down with an injury early in the game against the Huskers. Redshirt freshman Cody Wichmann made his first career start at right tackle last weekend and junior Trevor Richter stepped in for Hunt when he went down and the line did not miss a beat. Fresno State's offensive line led the Bulldogs to 444 yards of total offense and guided running back Robbie Rouse to 169 yards on 36 carries.
Goessling Eclipses 300-Point Plateau
Senior kicker Kevin Goessling became the fourth Bulldog in program history to score 300 points in a career. Goessling's first-quarter PAT after Devon Wylie's punt return for a touchdown was the 300th point of his career. After making all three of his field goal attempts and both of his PAT attempts, Goessling now has 310 career points. He was received honorable mention accolades as the national place kicker of the week from the College Football Performance Awards for his game against the Huskers. The Placentia, Calif. native needs just 55 points over the remaining 11 games to become the all-time leading scorer in Fresno State history. If he can make 17 more field goal, he will also break that career record at Fresno State.
Andrew Shapiro Pinning the Opponents Down
Junior punter Andrew Shapiro has downed eight of his 15 punts this season inside the opponents 20-yard line. In both games this season, Shapiro has downed four punts inside the 20 and he only has one touchback on the year. In addition to his eight punts being downed, another four have been fair caught, so opponents have only been able to return three punts this season for an average of six yards. Last year, his first as Fresno State's punter, Shapiro punted 59 times and had 21 downed inside the 20 with just one touchback. For his career, Shapiro has punted 74 times for an average of 37.3 yards per kick.
Derron Smith Off to a Good Start
After playing in all 13 games as a true freshman, where he finished 10th on the team with 28 tackles, safety Derron Smith is off to a great start in his second year in the program. Smith is tied for the team lead with 14 tackles through two games and 12 of his 14 stops have been unassisted. Last weekend at No. 10 Nebraska, Smith had six tackles, a forced fumble, one interception and one pass breakup. The interception and forced fumble were the first of his career. Smith has two pass breakups through two games and is tied for second in the WAC with three passes defended in the first two weeks of the season.
Fresno State controlled the ball for 37 minutes and 12 seconds in last weekend's game at No. 10 Nebraska. It was the longest time of possession for Fresno State since Nov. 6, 2010, when the `Dogs controlled the ball for 41:02 in a 40-34 victory in Ruston. The Bulldogs are second in the WAC this year, averaging 33:17 minutes with possession of the ball.
Sophomore wide receiver Jalen Saunders has caught a pass in all 15 of the games he's played in during his young career. His 15-game streak with at least one catch is the third-longest active streak in the conference.
Junior wide receiver Rashad Evans tied his career-high with six catches last weekend at No. 10 Nebraska. All six of his receptions came in the first half and he finished the game with 63 yards receiving.
Isaiah Burse averaged 25 yards on his six kickoff returns against the Huskers and Fresno State's average starting field position for the game was its own 29-yard line.
Running back Robbie Rouse is averaging 145.5 all-purpose yards per game to lead the team. That figures ranks seventh in the conference.
Derek Carr's three-yard touchdown run against Nebraska was the No. 4 play on ESPN's "Top 10 Plays" last Saturday. Carr made an acrobatic dive over the defender and while in mid-air, extended the ball out over the pylon as he was flying out of bounds.
Defensive lineman Matt Akers recorded his first career sack last weekend against the Huskers. Fresno State's defensive linemen have combined to record 6.0 tackles for a loss this season and the entire team has 12.0 tackles behind the line of scrimmage through two games.
Four of the next five games for the Bulldogs are at home and the one road game in that stretch comes next weekend when Fresno State plays at Idaho in its first WAC game of the season.
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