Football Renews Rivalry With San Jose State
    Paris Gaines had 130 yards in Fresno State's double overtime loss to Hawaii last Saturday.
    Paris Gaines had 130 yards in Fresno State's double overtime loss to Hawaii last Saturday.
    Fresno State hosts rival San Jose State in the final regular season game for both squads. The game will be played at 3:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium. The game time was moved to the rare start time to accomodate Fox Sports Net, which was scheduled to broadcast the game. Fox Sports Net notified both schools and the WAC last week it will not televise the game due to a scheduling conflict. There is no television for the game. It is Senior Day for the 12 Bulldog seniors, who will playing their final home game.

    WAC Championship Scenario
    With Hawai'i's dramatic victory over the Bulldogs, it clinched at least a share of the WAC crown. Fresno State can share a piece of the championship, which will likely be accompanied by a Las Vegas Bowl invitation, with a win over San Jose State. If the Bulldogs lose, they are out of championship picture. Two other teams, TCU and SMU, can still get into the championship picture, each having two league losses. TCU hosts UTEP this week and SMU travels to Tulsa. TCU and SMU will play Nov. 26, to conclude the WAC season.

    Head Coach Pat Hill
    Pat Hill is in his third season at Fresno State but is no stranger to Bulldog football, having spent six seasons as an assistant coach (1984-89) under Jim Sweeney when the Bulldogs were among the nation's most successful teams. Fresno State posted a 53-16-1 overall record during those six seasons, won three league titles and three bowl games. Hill was Fresno State's offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Hill became a hot young assistant coach and left FSU to become offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Arizona (1991-92). After two seasons in Tucson, he left for the NFL where he spent five seasons (1992-96) as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise. In addition, Hill was the offensive coordinator for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL (1983), offensive coordinator/offensive line/recruiting coordinator at UNLV (1981-82), recruiting coordinator/offensive line coach at Utah (1977-80) and offensive line coach at L.A. Valley College (1974-76).

    PAT HILL YEAR-BY-YEAR
           Overall   Pct    WAC     Pct   Home   Away
    1997     6-6    .500    5-3    .625    4-2    2-4
    1998     5-6    .454    5-3    .625    4-1    1-5
    1999     7-4    .636    4-2    .667    5-0    2-4
    TOTALS  18-16   .529   14-8    .636   13-3    5-13
    
    All-Time vs. San Jose State
    San Jose State holds a slim 32-28-3 record in the all-time series. The rivalry between the two started in 1921 with a 14-2 San Jose State victory in Fresno. The series has ebbed and flowed with both teams dominating the other at various points. From 1932-54, the Spartans owned the Bulldogs, holding a 11-2-3 advantage. But Fresno State held an 11-6 advantage from 1955-72. From 1973-87, San Jose State won 12 of the 15 games the two teams played. But the Bulldogs have been the dominant team since 1988, winning seven of the eight games, including five in a row.

    The Rivalry
    Only the University of Pacific (69 games) has played more games against Fresno State in football than San Jose State (63). The rivalry has often been heated, but never more so than the four games the two played from 1986-89. Each won two games in that time period, the largest margin of victory being four and each game having major California Bowl implications. Perhaps the most exciting game the rivalry has seen occurred in 1989, when Fresno State defeated San Jose State 31-30 when a Spartans two-point conversion failed with two minutes remaining in the game. The Bulldogs went on to win their fourth and final California Bowl that year. Pat Hill should remember those games well – he was a Fresno State assistant coach at the time.

    Specialties
    Saturday’s game will feature two of the best punting teams in the nation. San Jose State ranks first in the WAC and 12th in the nation in net punting at 39.3. Fresno State is just behind the Spartans, ranking second in the conference and 15th in the nation with a 39.0 average net.

    WAC Coaching Leader
    Pat Hill is the active WAC coaching leader with a record of 14-8 (.636), just ahead Rice's Hatfield, who owns a record of 14-9 (.609).

    In Case You Missed It
    Payton Williams was named to the GTE Academic All-District VIII team. It is the second consecutive year that he has been selected to the team and he is now eligible for the GTA Acadmic All-America team. . .Fresno State's loss at Hawai'i was its first overtime loss of the season and the first loss of the year when Billy Volek did not throw an interception. . .The Bulldogs are 1-9 at Hawai'i since 1967. . .Fresno State's four fumbles vs. Hawai'i were the most this season. It also stopped a modest two-game streak without a turnover. . .Volek set new career-high with 54 pass attempts and 34 pass completions. He now has a streak of 148 consecutive passes without an interception. . .He needs one touchdown pass this week to catch Trent Dilfer on the Fresno State career record with 53, which would put him in third place. . .Paris Gaines surpassed the century mark in rushing yard for the first time in his career with 130 yards on 26 carries. He has scored four touchdowns in the last four games. . .The Bulldogs has 27 first downs, 15 via pass vs. Hawai'i, both season highs. . .Volek surpassed 6,000 passing yards for his career.

    Best in the West
    Fresno State has been one of hottest teams in the West, having won 11 of its last 16 games. Of the Division I-A schools located in the Mountain, Pacific and Hawaiian time zones, only two schools - Air Force and BYU - have better records than the Bulldogs during that time.

    BEST IN THE WEST
    1. Air Force         13-3
    2. BYU               12-4
    3. Fresno State      11-5
       Arizona           11-5
       Wyoming           11-5
       Utah              11-5
    7. Oregon            10-6
       Colorado State    10-6
    9. Colorado           9-7
       Stanford           9-7
       Oregon State       9-7
    
    Who's Hotter?
    Can there be any quarterback in the nation hotter than Billy Volek? Volek threw his 25th touchdown over the weekend, giving him more TD passes than some of the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidates including, Kevin Feterik, BYU (23), Drew Brees, Purdue (21), Doug Johnson, Florida (19), Chris Weinke, Florida State (22) and Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech (23). What's most impressive is that he thrown just three interceptions the entire season in 327 attempts, an average of one for every 109 attempts. He as a current streak of 148 pass attempts without an interception. For his career, Volek has thrown 12 interceptions in 908 attempts for an average of one every 75.7 attempts. His touchdown-interception ratio for the season is 25:3 and for his career is 52:12. Volek's focus this season has been amazing when you factor into the equation that he is about to become a father. Billy and his wife, Kerri, and he are expecting their first child, which was last weekend.

    Valuable Volek
    Senior quarterback Billy Volek (Fresno, Calif.) received the WAC's offensive Player of the Week honors for his four touchdown performance against Portland State (Sept. 5). A three-year starter, Volek passed for 1,973 yards last year, finishing second in the WAC in passing efficiency with a rating of 131.7. Volek was the preseason selection for WAC Offensive Player of the Year. This season, Volek continues to impress, completing a career-best 65 percent of his passes while throwing 21 touchdowns to just three interceptions. For his career he has an impressive TD-Interception ratio of 52:12. Volek is leading the WAC and ranks sixth in the NCAA in pass efficiency with a 147.2 rating.

    VOLEK'S CAREER PASSING STATISTICS
    Year    G-GS    Att    Comp    Int    Yards    Pct    TD   Long
    1997    12-12   318     178     6     1,853   .560    17    47
    1998    11-11   261     151     3     1,973   .579    10    63
    1999    11-11   325     213     3     2,248   .655    25    83
    TOTALS  34-34   904     542    12     5,074   .600    52    83
    
    Volek on the Charts
    Quarterback Billy Volek has moved into fourth place in Fresno State history in career passing yards and total offense. In addition, he became just the fourth player in Bulldog history to throw more than 40 touchdowns and have 5,000 yards in his career. Here's where he stands in the FS career record books:
    Total Offense              Plays    Pass    Rush    Yards    Needs to Pass
    3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93)  1,106    7,631    154    7,785       1,892
    4. Billy Volek (1996-)       928    6,074   -180    5,894    
    

    Passing Yards A-C-I Pct Yards Needs to Pass 3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 865-511-22 .591 7,631 1,558 4. Billy Volek (1996-) 904-542-12 .600 6,074

    Touchdown Passes TDs Needs to Pass 2. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 53 2 3. Billy Volek (1996-) 52

    In Sync
    Billy Volek has just one interception in the last eight games. In fact, he has just one in the last 34 quarters. He had a streak of 111 passes without an interception that was snapped with his third interception of the season Oct. 14 against SMU and currently owns another 100-plus streak (148). He is on pace to break the school's single season record for completion percentage. He is currently completing .655 of his attempts. The Fresno State record is .644 by Mark Barsotti in 1991.

    "V" is for Valley
    Fresno State prides itself on being the "Valley's team." This pride can be seen in the form of a large green V on the back of the Bulldog helmets as a symbol to the Central Valley.

    Payton's Place
    Senior cornerback Payton Williams (Moreno Valley, Calif.) is considered one of the top players at his position in the nation. In addition to his work on the Bulldog special teams, he is one of the premier student-athletes on the Fresno State campus, earning GTE Academic All-District honors each of the last two seasons. He will be on the national ballot for the 1999 GTE Academic All-America team. A sociology major, Williams represented Fresno State at the NCAA Leadership Conference last spring. Despite being hampered with a strained hamstring over the last five game, Williams has been Fresno State's leader in the secondary.

    Little Big Man
    Junior middle linebacker Tim Skipper (Kenner, La.), a 1999 Preseason Street & Smith and Walter Camp All-American Honorable Mention, continues to be Fresno State's leader on defense. Despite being only 5-7, short by middle linebacker standards, Skipper continues to play very large. Skipper was a first-team All-WAC selection as a sophomore. He missed his first start in 27 consecutive games vs. Colorado State with a knee injury. Despite missing those two games, he is second in the team in tackles with 78.

    Fabulous in the Fourth
    Here are some fourth quarter Bulldog bullets for 1999:

    o  Shutout the opponents in three of the last four games
    o  Allowed just 11 points in the last four games
    o  Allowed just 17 points in the last five games
    o  Outscored the opponent 88-40 this season
    o  Outscored the opponent 34-8 in the last four games
    o  Outscored the opponent 67-20 in the last seven games
    
    WAC Championships
    With a win on Saturday, the Bulldogs would clinch a share of the WAC championship, marking the third time in this decade Fresno State has been a part of a WAC title. The Bulldogs were WAC co-champions in 1992 and 1993 and earned bowl invitations each of those seasons. Hawai'i, which claimed at least a share of the WAC title, also shared the conference title with Fresno State in 1992 along with BYU. All three teams finished with two league losses. Hawai'i won the tie breaker and played in the Holiday Bowl while Fresno State defeated USC 24-7 in the Freedom Bowl. In 1993, Fresno State finished with a 6-2 WAC record and shared the championship with Wyoming and BYU. The Bulldogs played in the Jeep Eagle Aloha Bowl, losing to Colorado 41-30.

    WAC Leaders
    Fresno State continues to lead the WAC in several categories, including scoring and third down conversions, two offensive areas they have been leading virtually all season. Fresno State is leading the WAC in the following areas: scoring (30.4), third down conversions (.488), Punt Returns (12.6) and turnover margin (+3).

    In the Zone
    Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has the Bulldogs ready to score when they get in the red zone (opponent's 20-yard line). The Bulldogs have been in the red zone 41 times and scored on 35 of those opportunities for a pertcentage of .854. Twenty-five of those scores have been touchdowns, for a red zone TD percentage of .610. The Bulldogs were 3-4 in the red zone last week with two touchdowns.

    No Holding Harper
    Sophomore defensive tackle Alan Harper (Fontana, Calif.) has been a one-man wrecking crew on the Bulldog defensive front. He is fourth on the team in tackles with 72 and leads the team with 13 tackles for losses for 39 yards. In addition, he leads Fresno State in quarterback hurries with nine and has four sacks for 18 yards. He also leads the team in forced fumbles with two.

    1,000 Club
    Two Bulldogs are zeroing in on 1,000 yards for the season. Sophomore receiver Rodney Wright needs 132 yards vs. San Jose State for for 1,000 receiving yards this season. Wright would become the sixth receiver in Bulldog history to reach 1,000 yards. The last 1,000-yard receiver was Brian Roberson, who had 1,248 yards in 1996. Freshman running back Derrick Ward needs his best game to reach the milestone. He needs 210 rushing yards to reach 1,000. The Bulldogs have produced a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last three seasons and eight in the last 10 years.

    Rushing             Att    Yards     Needs to 1,000
    Derrick Ward        122     790           210
    

    Receiving Rec Yards Needs for 1,000 Rodney Wright 61 868 138

    Isn't That Special?
    The Bulldogs continue to dominate the opponents in special teams. Fresno State has a season total of seven blocked kicks, three punts, three field goals and one PAT. Earlier this season,the Bulldogs had a streak of blocking a kick in three consecutive games before failing to get one against SMU. Of the Bulldogs three blocked punts, two have been returned for touchdowns. Here are a few other Fresno State special teams highlights this season:

    o  Fresno State has four blocked punts
    o  Derrick Ward has two blocked punts for touchdowns
    o  Opponents are averaging 33.1 net yards punting
    o  Opponents have just 78 total punt return yards for a 4.2 average 
    o  Fresno State has downed 33% (18 of 55) of its punts inside the 20-yard line
    o  Fresno State is 10-13 in field goals
    o  The 'Dogs average drive start after a kickoff is the 29-yard line
    o  Opponent's kick return average is 20.8 yards
    
    Young Pups
    Of the 101 student-athletes listed on the roster, 41 are freshman, 23 are sophomores, 20 are juniors and only 17 are seniors. Of the 44 players on the depth chart, exactly half are either freshmen or sophomores. The youth is evident in the skilled positions. Of the 14 offensive players who have all-purpose yards this season, only three of them are seniors – quarterback Billy Volek, tight end Vince Branstetter and fullback Jeromy Blackwell.

    Ward Watch
    Freshman running back Derrick Ward (Moreno Valley, Calif.) has been a big part of Fresno State's success this season. Not only is he leading the team in rushing with 790 yards and a 6.5 per carry average, he also leads the team with six touchdowns and has been a special teams demon with two blocked punts for touchdowns. Ward scored two touchdowns and rushed for 156 yards in the victory over Colorado State. His 75-yard touchdown run against Colorado State was the seventh-longest in school history. He now owns two of the top seven longest runs, including the third-longest, an 86-yarder against Nevada. Ward also has the top two rushing games by a freshman in school history: 176 yards vs. Nevada and 156 yards vs. Colorado State. Ward needs 210 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. He would become the first freshman in school history to accomplish that.

    'Dogs in NCAA Stats
    Here's how the Bulldogs rank in the NCAA statisics this week. Only the Top 50 players are ranked.

    Player           Category                NCAA Rank           Avg.
    Billy Volek      Passing Efficiency         6th               147.2
                     Total Offense              44th              198.64
    

    Rodney Wright All-Purpose Yardage 30th 130.45 Receptions Per Game 38th 5.55 Kickoff Returns 45th 22.32 Receiving Yards 41st 78.91


     

     

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