No. 24/22 Fresno State is set to host Utah State in the first-ever Mountain West Championship game on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Bulldog Stadium ... the game is being televised nationally on CBS with the broadcast team of Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), Aaron Taylor (analyst) and Allie LaForce (sideline) ... fans can listen to the game on the official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs, 940 AM ESPN radio, with `Voice of the Bulldogs' Paul Loeffler, former Bulldog and NFL safety Cameron Worrell as the analyst and sideline reporter Ralph Wood ... the Bulldogs, after capturing a share of the MW title in their first season in the league last year, look to win conference championships in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992 and 1993 ... the 'Dogs are looking for their 11th victory of the season, which would match the school record for wins in a season that has been done four times before, the last being in 2001 ... this game is a match up of Fresno State's offense that ranks fourth nationally in scoring at 47.3 points per game against Utah State's defense that allows only 16.8 points per game to rank seventh in the FBS ... Bulldog quarterback Derek Carr continues to lead the nation in just about every statistical passing category, and his 108 career TD passes against 21 interceptions is the highest TD-to-interception ratio of any FBS quarterback in history that has thrown over 100 career touchdown passes ... Davante Adams continues to break school and Mountain West records and he now eyes the NCAA record as his 22 TD catches are five short of the FBS record for TD catches in a season ... Fresno State's defense, which is tied for fifth nationally in tackles for a loss with 8.1 per game, looks to rebound from the San Jose State loss in which it gave up 62 points and 736 yards of offense ... this will be the first meeting between the two schools as members of the Mountain West.
The Bulldogs are seeking their first outright conference championship since 1991 in the Big West and their first back-to-back titles since 1992 and 1993 when the Bulldogs claimed a share of the WAC championship.
In six home games this season, Derek Carr has thrown 26 TD passes against one interception and is averaging 423.7 yards per game.
Fresno State has won 12-straight games at home.
In its last seven games, Fresno State has averaged 49.1 points per game and 632.6 yards of offense.
Inaugural Mountain West Championship Game
Fresno State and Utah State are set to play in the first-ever Mountain West Championship game. The two schools did not meet in the regular season. The Bulldogs, with a league-best overall record of 10-1, won the West Division by going 7-1. Utah State, standing at 8-4 overall, won the Mountain Division by also going 7-1 in league play. Last season, Fresno State captured a share of the MW title in its first season in the league. For Utah State, it looks to do the same this year as this is its first year in the Mountain West. The last team to win back-to-back MW championship was TCU, who won three-straight from 2009-11. Bulldog coach Tim DeRuyter looks to join Cecil Coleman (1959-61) as the only coaches in school history to win conference titles in their first two seasons leading the program.
In The Polls
After their first loss of the season, the Bulldogs dropped from No. 16 to No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25. Then in the USA Today Coaches Poll, the 'Dogs fell from No. 13 to No. 22. Even with the loss, the Bulldogs have now been ranked 11-straight weeks in the AP Poll, tying for the longest streak in school history for that poll. This is the 12th-straight week the 'Dogs have been in the Coaches Poll, which is a new school record. Fresno State was one of the final five teams to remain unbeaten this season and is currently one of 12 FBS teams with one or fewer losses.
Fresno State vs. Utah State - The Series
The Last Meeting
|Utah State (Homecoming)||21
October 15, 2011
Okpalaugo, Saunders Lift 'Dogs Past USU
Robbie Rouse ran for 140 yards, including the clinching fourth-quarter touchdown, as Fresno State stormed back to defeat Utah State 31-21 on Saturday night.
The former WAC foes are now set to meet for the first time as members of the Mountain West and are doing so to decide the conference champion in the league's inaugural championship game. This will be the 28th all-time meeting between the schools in the series that started in 1952. Fresno State leads the all-time series 16-10-1 and has won eight of the past nine in the series, including five straight. The last time the schools met was on Oct. 15, 2001 when the Bulldogs won 31-21. Fresno State trailed USU 21-14 at halftime in that game, but pitched a second-half shutout in the 31-21 victory. Quarterback Derek Carr, a sophomore then, threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
Scouting Utah State
The Aggies won five-straight games to end the regular season and capture the Mountain Division of the MW with a 7-1 league record and 8-4 overall mark to reach the championship game. Utah State was 4-2 on the road this season with its two losses coming at Utah and at USC. The Aggies sport the league's top defense, which only allows 16.8 points per game (seventh in the FBS) and 321.4 yards of offense (11th nationally). Jake Doughty leads the defensive charge, as he has 130 tackles on the season and 10.0 tackles for a loss. Zach Vigil adds 107 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss. Offensively, quarterback Darell Garretson has filled in for the injured Chuckie Keeton and is throwing for 186.2 yards per game with nine TDs against four interceptions in his last five starts. Utah State also runs for 190.3 yards per game with Joey Demartino averaging 85.3 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Bouncing Back After a Loss
Fresno State was one of the last five teams in the FBS to remain unbeaten, but the Bulldogs were handed their first loss last weekend in the regular season finale at San Jose State. The Bulldogs have not lost consecutive games under head coach Tim DeRuyter in his two seasons at the school. Last year in the three regular season losses, DeRuyter's squad came back in the game after the defeat and won by an average margin of 31.7 points.
Defense Looks to Rebound As Well
Fresno State allowed 736 yards of offense, 577 yards passing and 62 points in last week's loss at San Jose State - the most in the Tim DeRuyter era. Before last weekend, there have been four games in the last two seasons where the 'Dogs gave up more than 500 yards to the opponent - 532 at No. 4 Oregon in 2012 and then in 2013, 543 vs. Rutgers, 561 vs. Boise State and 507 at San Diego State. In those four previous times giving up over 500 yards of offense, the Bulldog defense rebounded and allowed an average of 148.5 fewer yards in their next game. Fresno State looks to do the same now against the Utah State offense that ranks sixth in the MW in total offense (430.7) and fourth in scoring (33.9).
One area that will help the Bulldogs is getting after the quarterback. Last week at SJSU was the first game all season and just the second under DeRuyter that the Bulldogs did not record a sack. Fresno State dropped from a tie for sixth nationally to 21st in sacks per game with 2.82, which still leads the Mountain West. The Bulldogs also are tied for fifth nationally with 8.1 tackles for a loss per game.
Bulldogs Look To Tie School Record for Victories
Fresno State at 10-1 is seeking its 11th victory of the season, which would tie the school record for wins in a year. There have been four seasons where the Bulldogs won 11 games, the last coming in 2001 when the 'Dogs went 11-3. This is the programs eighth season with 10 or more victories as well. Of the previous seven teams that won 10 or more games, six of those squads won conference championships. The one that did not was the 2001 team that tied for second in the WAC with a 6-2 league record.
With 6,387 yards of offense in 11 games, the Bulldogs are 636 yards away from breaking the school record for yards gained in a season of 7,022 that was set in 2001 when the team played 14 games. The Mountain West record is 7,057 yards that BYU gained in 2001. The school record for yardage per game is 537.1 (1991) and the Mountain West record is 514.8 done by Nevada last season. The 2013 Fresno State Bulldogs are on track to break all of these records thanks to its offensive explosion in the last seven games. Over that time, Fresno State has gone for over 600 yards of offense six times and is averaging 632.6 yards and 49.1 points.
Offensive Statistical Merry-Go-Round
Fresno State's up-tempo spread offense is one of the most explosive in the nation. The Bulldogs lead the FBS in passing yards per game (410.3), are second in total offense (580.6), third in plays per game (85.5) and are fourth in scoring (47.3). The Bulldogs have the nation's top passer in Derek Carr and top receiver in Davante Adams while Josh Harper is up there as well. The potent unit is led by offensive coordinator Dave Schramm, who is one of 40 nominees for the 2013 Broyles Award that honors the nation's top assistant coach.
What Carr Can Do Friday
Derek Carr already owns just about every single school record, having set or tied 22 Fresno State records in his career and 21 Mountain West records despite being in the league for only two seasons. There still are a couple more marks out there that Carr can get this weekend in the Mountain West Championship game.
He needs one more TD pass to tie the school single-season record his brother David set in 2001 with 46.
Needs 309 yards to set a new school single-season total offense record.
Needs 378 passing yards to set a new single-season school record
Why Derek Carr is the Best
He is responsible for 42 more touchdowns than he is turnovers this season, which leads all FBS players by six.
Has an FBS-leading 45 touchdown passes against only five interceptions in 552 pass attempts. His 45 TDs are tied for the 12th most in FBS history and are the most in Mountain West history.
His career TD-to-interception ratio of 108-to-21 (5.14) is the highest of any quarterback in FBS history that has thrown over 100 career touchdowns.
Leads the nation in total passing yards (4,462), yards per game (405.8), touchdown passes (45), completions per game (35.3), total offense (4,598) and touchdowns responsible for (47). This is all despite the fact he has only played in 11 games, one less than most every other player in the nation.
In the month of November he was 137-of-188 passing (72.9 percent) with 20 touchdown passes against one interception while throwing for 472.0 yards per game.
Has thrown a touchdown pass in 31-straight games, which is the longest active streak in the FBS.
Thrown for over 300 yards in 9-of-11 games this season and four or more TD passes in 7-of-11 games.
His seven games with 400-plus passing yards this year leads all FBS quarterbacks.
Is one of 19 quarterbacks in FBS history to throw for over 10,000 career passing yards AND 100 TD passes.
Set a new MW record with 305 consecutive pass attempts without an interception from Oct. 5-Nov. 29 and also had 180-straight passes without throwing a pick from Aug. 29-Sept. 28.
Is one of 13 FBS quarterbacks in history to throw for over 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
Davante Adams' Case As the Nation's Best WR
His 22 touchdown catches leads the FBS by four and is as many or more than 80 of the 123 FBS teams have this season.
Leads the FBS in receptions per game (10.3) and is second in the nation in receiving yards per game (134.3) and total receptions (113).
Has set a new school record for catches in a season and needs 16 more to break the MW record. Also needs 153 yards to break the school single-season record for most receiving yards in a season and 309 for the MW record.
Is one of three players - with West Virginia's Stedman Bailey (2012) and Missouri's Danario Alexander (2009) - to have three 200-yard receiving games in the same season.
Joined West Virginia's Stedman Bailey (2012) as the only players this century to have two games in the same year with over 200 yards receiving AND four touchdown receptions.
Has become the fifth FBS receiver this century to have back-to-back seasons with 100 or more receptions AND over 1,000 yards receiving.
Has seven TD catches of over 35 yards in 2013, including all four of his TDs vs. New Mexico on Nov. 23.
Caught 10 or more passes in 6-of-11 games with a high of 16 at Idaho (Oct. 5). His six games with 10-plus receptions leads the nation.
Has caught a TD pass in 10-of-11 games this season and in 18 of his last 19 games dating back to 2012. He has 36 career TDs in 24 games played.
In three games from Oct. 5-26, he had 36 receptions for 493 yards and nine TDs. Then in his last three games (Nov. 9-29) he has 33 catches for 589 yards and eight touchdowns.
Is the FBS active CAREER leader in receiving yards per game (116.2), receptions per game (9.0) and touchdown catches (36), despite the fact that his 24 career games played in is 19 less than any of the other players ranked in the top five.
Home Field Advantage Fresno State has won 12-straight home games and every single game at home under head coach Tim DeRuyter. That 12-game home winning streak is the longest since the 'Dogs won 17-straight at Bulldog Stadium from 1998-01.
That's A First
Fresno State scored 52 points and lost to San Jose State on Nov. 29 in the regular season finale. That marked the first time in the Tim DeRuyter era that the Bulldogs lost a game when scoring over 30 points. They were a perfect 18-0 in those games until the Spartans upset the Bulldogs and ended their perfect season. It was also the first time in 17 games under DeRuyter that the Bulldogs lost when gaining over 400 yards of offense.
Not A First
There are six Bulldogs (Derek Carr, L.J. Jones, Malique Micenheimer, Jeremiah Toma, Austin Wentworth and Cody Wichmann) who have all started a game against Utah State before in their careers, doing so in 2011. Additionally, there are 13 other players on the roster who have faced the Aggies before in either 2010, 2011, or both seasons when the schools were still in the WAC.
One player not on that list is running back Josh Quezada. Quezada, a BYU transfer, faced USU two times as a freshman and sophomore running back for the Cougars in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, he carried the ball 10 times for 41 yards in BYU's 27-24 win over Utah State. As a true freshman in 2010, he had six carries for 20 yards in a 31-16 loss. Now a Bulldog, Quezada is Fresno State's leading rusher with 733 yards and six touchdowns. He has also caught 46 passes for 277 yards and one TD. In his last four games, Quezada has averaged 7.1 yards per carry and 90.0 yards per game, running the ball 51 times for 360 yards and three touchdowns.
Fresno State enters the championship having not allowed a sack in two-straight games. The Bulldogs have allowed only eight sacks all season, which is tied for the second fewest among all FBS teams. That is quite impressive considering the fact Fresno State has attempted 567 passes this year, which is 138 more pass attempts than any other team ranked in the top 10 this season in sacks allowed per game.
Fresno State has three wide receivers ranked in the top 25 in receptions per game with Davante Adams leading the FBS (10.3), Josh Harper at No. 14 (7.2) and Isaiah Burse tied for 16th (7.0). The Bulldog trio now has a shot to do something that has only been done four times before in FBS history, which is have three receivers from the same team eclipse 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. Adams (1,477) and Harper (1,011) are already there and Burse is 145 yards away. This group is making their case to be the best receiving trio in school history. Only one time before this season has two Bulldogs gone for over 1,000 yards receiving in the same year and that came in 2001 with Rodney Wright (1,630) Bernard Berrian (1,364) hitting the mark. The Bulldog trio has combined for 269 receptions, 3,343 yards and 39 touchdowns this year. Their 39 combined TDs are more than every other FBS team in the country has for total touchdown passes on the season, as Adams leads the country in TD catches, Harper is tied for sixth with 13 and Burse has caught four.
Burse Surpasses 5,000 All-Purpose Yards
Isaiah Burse has moved into second place on the school's record list for all-purpose yardage gained in a career. He now needs just 152 yards to become the school's all-time leader.
Importance of a Good Start
Fresno State and Utah State have been the top two first-half teams in the Mountain West this year. The Bulldogs on the season have held an average lead of 15.8 points in the first half, which leads the league. Utah State is second with an average halftime lead of 9.8 points. Fresno State is averaging a league-best 26.9 points in the first half, while Utah State leads the league in first-half defense by giving up only 9.3 points in the first two quarters. Fresno State is second in first-half defense, allowing just 11.1 points. The Bulldogs are 9-0 this season when leading at the half (16-1 in two years under Tim DeRuyter), are 1-0 when tied at halftime this year and 0-1 when trailing at the half. Utah State this season is 7-1 when leading at the half, but just 1-3 when trailing after two quarters.
Mickelsen With Another High Tackle Game
Junior inside linebacker Karl Mickelsen recorded 14 tackles in last week's loss at San Jose State. It was his second double-digit tackle game this season. He posted a career-high 16 tackles, including 14 solo stops, and forced a fumble in a win over Boise State, Sept. 20. Those 16 total tackles were the most by a Bulldog in a game in five seasons. His 14 solo tackles in that game are tied for the fourth most by a FBS player this year and the most by any Mountain West player. Mickelsen, in his first season as a starter for the Bulldogs, leads the team with 87 tackles.
Fresno State's 4,513 passing yards this year has set a new Mountain West single-season record and the Bulldogs need 327 yards passing to break the Fresno State record.
Utah State leads the league and ranks seventh nationally in third-down defense, holding opponents to a 31.2 conversion percentage. The Aggies do allow opponents to convert 56.5 percent (13-of-23) of their fourth-down tries. Fresno State's offense is converting 44.6 percent of its third downs this year and ranks fifth nationally on fourth downs, converting 73.9 percent (17-of-23) of their fourth-down tries.
The Bulldogs are 8-0 in night games this season and are 12-0 under Tim DeRuyter when playing in games that kick off after 6 p.m.
Ejiro Ederaine saw his five-game streak with at least one sack come to an end in the loss to San Jose State. His 10 sacks on the year still ranks No. 3 in the Mountain West and his 0.91 sacks per game is tied for 10th in the FBS.
Davante Adams with his 22 touchdown receptions has set a new program record for points scored in a season with 132. The previous record was 129 points done by kicker Asen Asparuhov in 2001. He also tied the school record last weekend with his 12th 100-yard receiving game.
Tim DeRuyter looks to become the first Bulldog coach to win 20 games in his first two seasons at the helm of the program. As it stands now, his 19 wins are three more than any other Bulldog coach had in their first two seasons.