Bulldogs Seek Win No. 12 in Las Vegas

    Dec. 13, 2013

    Las-Vegas-Bowl-Logo

    No. 21/20 Fresno State (11-1, 7-1 MW) vs. USC (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12)
    Date Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013
    Time 12:30 p.m. PT
    Location Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800) - Las Vegas, Nev.
    TV ABC | Play-by-Play: Rece Davis; Analyst: Jesse Palmer; Analyst: David Pollack; Sideline: Samantha Ponder
    Radio ESPN Radio (940 AM) | Gameday Live (9:30 a.m.), Pregame Show (11:30 a.m.)
    Play-by-Play:Paul Loeffler; Analyst: Cameron Worrell; Sideline:Ralph Wood

    ESPN Deportes (1600 AM) in Spanish | Play-by-Play: Erwin Higueros; Analyst: Jesse Beltran; Sideline: Octavio Duarte

    Bowl Guides Fresno State Bowl Guide | USC Bowl Notes | MW Bowl Notes
    2013 Stats Fresno State | USC | MW Stats
    Social Media @FresnoStateFB | Facebook

    No. 21/20 Fresno State is set to face Southern California in the 2013 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21 in just the third-ever meeting between the schools ... kickoff from UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium is at 12:30 p.m. and the game is being televised nationally on ABC with the broadcast team of Rece Davis (play-by-play), Jesse Palmer (analyst), David Pollack (analyst) and Samantha Ponder (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 ... Fresno State is making its 25th bowl appearance in program history and its 13th in the past 15 seasons ... this is the second bowl game between USC and Fresno State, as the Bulldogs won the 1992 Freedom Bowl 24-7 in a game Jim Sweeney, Fresno State's all-time winningest coach, called "the biggest game in Bulldog history" ... second-year head coach Tim DeRuyter, a native of Long Beach, Calif., has led Fresno State to a 20-5 record and two conference championships, marking the first time the Bulldogs have won conference championships in back-to-back seasons since 1992 and 1993 under Sweeney ... Derek Carr is playing in his final game as a Bulldog and he looks to become the first senior quarterback to win a bowl game since 1982 when Jeff Tedford, the former Cal head coach, led the 'Dogs to a 29-28 win over Bowling Green in the California Raisin Bowl ... Fresno State is looking to snap a four-game losing streak in bowls. Its last win was in the 2007 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl over Georgia Tech ... this game matches up two of the best receivers in college football in Fresno State's Davante Adams and USC's Marqise Lee.

    Bulldog Headlines
    • The Bulldogs will be making their 13th bowl appearance in the last 15 seasons.
    • A victory over USC would be Fresno State's 12th of the season, giving the Bulldogs a new single-season record for wins.
    • This game matches up Fresno State's offense that leads the nation in passing and is third in total offense against the USC defense that is 16th in total defense and 21st in scoring defense.

    Mountain West Champions
    Fresno State defeated Utah State 24-17 in the inaugural Mountain West Championship game to claim the school's first outright conference championship since 1989 in the Big West. The Bulldogs shared conference titles in 2012, 1999, 1993, 1992 and 1991. Fresno State has now won a conference championship in each of its first two seasons in the Mountain West. Although the 2012 title was shared with San Diego State and Boise State, this marks the first time since 1992 and 1993 that Fresno State has won conference titles in back-to-back seasons.

    Derek Carr and Derron Smith, who were both voted as the preseason offensive and defensive players of the year in the MW entering 2013, capped off their stellar seasons by collecting offensive and defensive MVP awards in the championship game. Carr threw for 404 yards and three touchdowns while Smith had six tackles, a sack, one interception and one pass breakup.

    In The Polls
    For the first time since 2001, Fresno State is ranked in the final top 25 polls of the regular season. The Bulldogs came in at No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 21 in the Associated Press Poll. Fresno State, which was also positioned at No. 20 in the final BCS Standings, is the highest ranked non-AQ team in the country. This is the third time in school history that the 'Dogs finished the regular season ranked in both official polls (2001 and 1993). The last time Fresno State was ranked following a bowl game was in 2004 at No. 22 in both polls.

    Fresno State vs. USC - The Series
    Fresno State and Southern California have met twice before in the history of their programs, once in the 1992 Freedom Bowl and then on Nov. 19, 2005 at USC. The teams each have one win under their belts, with Fresno State winning 24-7 in the 1992 Freedom Bowl (see recap on Pg. 38) and USC winning 50-42 in 2005. The 'Dogs were ranked No. 16 in that 2005 game and gave No. 1-ranked USC all it could handle. Fresno State led 21-13 at halftime and rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to take a late 42-41 lead with 9:47 to play. In the end, Reggie Bush ran for a career-high 294 yards on 23 carries and scored twice, leading the Trojans to a wild 50-42 victory. That USC win was later vacated due to an NCAA penalty.

    Scouting USC
    The Trojans enter the bowl with a 9-4 overall record and although they are not ranked in either top 25 poll (are receiving votes in both), they are ranked No. 25 in the final BCS Standings. Southern California enters the bowl game hot, having won five out of its last six games, which included a 20-17 win over No. 5 Stanford on Nov. 16. USC is stout defensively, sporting the nation's 16th-ranked unit in total defense that only allows 341.5 yards per game and is tied for 14th nationally in scoring defense at 21.3 points per game. The Trojans have limited opponents to just a 34 percent third-down conversion rate and have picked off 16 passes. Offensively, USC scores 28.5 points per game and averages 392.3 yards of offense. Quarterback Cody Kessler averages 201.8 passing yards per game this year and has 16 TDs against six interceptions.

    Bulldogs vs. the Pac-12 in Bowl Games
    Fresno State is 2-0 against teams from the Pac-12, or before that Pac-10, in bowl games. The 'Dogs defeated USC in the 1992 Freedom Bowl and beat UCLA in the 2003 Silicon Valley Football Classic IV. Fresno State is 25-39 all-time against the Pac-12 teams counting regular season games, having last played a Pac-12 school in the regular season in 2012 (42-25 loss at No. 4 Oregon on Sept. 8 and a 69-14 win over Colorado on Sept. 15). Fresno State was supposed to play CU again this season, but the Sept. 14 game in Boulder was canceled due to the devastating flooding in Colorado.

    Two-In-A-Row, Again
    The 2012 Las Vegas Bowl matched up Boise State from the Mountain West against Washington from the Pac-12, with the Broncos winning 28-26. Those two schools then opened up the 2013 season against one another, with Washington winning at home on Aug. 31, 38-6. Well now, Fresno State and USC are set to repeat what Washington and Boise State did last year. The 'Dogs and Trojans will play in the Dec. 21 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and then open up the 2014 season against one another on Aug. 30 in the LA Coliseum.

    Bulldogs Return to Las Vegas
    For the first time since 1999, the Bulldog football team is returning to Las Vegas. That was when the Bulldogs played in the EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl against Utah. Fresno State fell to the Utes 17-16 on Dec. 18, 1999 (see full recap on Pg. 39). The 'Dogs also own a 5-2 record when playing UNLV in Las Vegas, but haven't faced the Rebels there since 1996 when Fresno State won 34-23 behind 130 yards rushing and three TDs from running back Michael Pittman.

    Chance To Go Down As The Greatest
    A win for Fresno State over USC would give the Bulldogs their 12th win this season, which would set a new school record for wins in a year and cement the 2013 team's place in history as one of the greatest Bulldog teams of all-time. This season's team has registered the fifth 11-win season in school history and first since the 2001 squad, led by David Carr who is the older brother of current Bulldog quarterback Derek Carr, went 11-3. The 1961 Mercy Bowl team and the 1930 squad (8-0) are the only teams to go undefeated and untied in school history. The 1985 squad, coached by Jim Sweeney, went 11-0-1. Sweeney, the school's all-time winningest coach with 143 victories in 19 seasons, passed away on Feb. 8. The Bulldogs have worn a JS sticker on the back of their helmets all season in honor of coach Sweeney.

    2013 All-Mountain West Honorees
    First-Team: WR Davante Adams, QB Derek Carr, FS Derron Smith and OL Austin Wentworth.
    The MW had five repeat first-team all-conference players from 2012 and four of the five were Bulldogs from the first-team selections a season ago.
    Second-Team: RS Isaiah Burse, NG Tyeler Davison, OLB Ejiro Ederaine, WR Josh Harper, TE Marcel Jensen
    Honorable Mention: WR Isaiah Burse, CB L.J. Jones, ILB Karl Mickelsen, DE Nikko Motta, P Garrett Swanson, OL Cody Wichmann

    Repeat Offensive Player of the Year
    Quarterback Derek Carr has become the third player in Mountain West history to repeat as the league's offensive player of the year (Colorado State QB Bradlee Van Pelt in 2002 and 2003; TCU QB Andy Dalton in 2009 and 2010). He also joins Kevin Sweeney (1985 and 1986) as the only two-time winners in Fresno State history.

    Carr's Resume
    • 2013 Sammy Baugh Award winner (nation's top passer).
    • 2013 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete and was a Capital One Academic All-America second-team selection.
    • Leads the nation in total offense (4,983), total passing yards (4,866), passing yards per game (405.5), passing TDs (48), completions per game (35.33), touchdown responsibility (50), total point responsibility (302) and point responsibility per game (25.2).
    • Set a new MW record with 305 consecutive pass attempts without an interception from Oct. 5-Nov. 29, 2013 and also had 180-straight passes without throwing a pick from Aug. 29-Sept. 28, 2013. He has 48 TD passes against seven interceptions this year and 111 vs. 23 for his career.
    • Established new league records for passing touchdowns and pass attempts. Boise State's Kellen Moore held the previous MW record for most passing TDs in a single season with 43 in 2011, while BYU's John Beck owned the former mark for pass attempts with 513 in 2005.
    • Threw for over 400 yards eight times this year and had four or more touchdown passes in seven games, which leads the nation in both categories.
    • He is responsible for 43 more touchdowns than he is turnovers this season, which leads all FBS players by five.
    • Has thrown a touchdown pass in 32-straight games, which is the longest active streak in the FBS.
    • Is one of 19 quarterbacks in FBS history to throw for over 10,000 career passing yards AND 100 TD passes.
    • Needs 134 yards passing and two TD passes to become the fourth quarterback in FBS history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season and have 50 or more touchdown passes.

    The Defensive Leader
    Derron Smith showcased why he's the unquestioned leader of the Bulldog defense by registering six tackles, one sack, a pass break in the end zone and his team-leading sixth interception of the season in the Mountain West Championship game against Utah State. Smith would be honored as the Defensive Player of the Game, backing up why he was named the preseason Mountain West Defensive Player of 2013. Smith's interception was his 13th career and now ranks tied at No. 4 for the most active career interceptions in the FBS. His pick moved him to No. 7 on the school's all-time list, which ties him with Phillip Thomas. The junior safety also recorded his fourth sack of the season in the title game, which ranks as the third-most on the team this season.

    Defense Rebounds in MW Championship Game
    Just eight days after giving up a school-record 736 yards to San Jose State in a loss that ended their perfect season, the Bulldogs limited Utah State to 304 yards in the MW Championship game victory. Fresno State gave up a season-low 51 yards rushing and had a season-high eight sacks after not having one sack at SJSU when the Spartans threw for 577 yards on 46 pass attempts.

    Championship Coach
    Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter has gone 20-5 in his two seasons with the Bulldogs. When he was hired on Dec. 14, 2011, he stated that the No. 1 goal of the program would be to win conference championships. Well after two years, his teams have two conference championship rings. DeRuyter has 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 20 wins are four more than any other Bulldog coach had in their first two seasons.

    Record Breakers
    With 6,847 yards of offense in 12 games, the Bulldogs are 176 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 in part to the fact that Fresno State has gone for over 600 yards of offense six times and scored over 40 points nine times this year. In the MW Championship game, the 'Dogs went up against the Utah State defense that ranks 11th nationally in total defense by allowing only 321.4 yards of offense. The Bulldogs racked up 460 yards of offense on the Aggies. Now, Fresno State looks to see if it can do it again against the USC defense that ranks 16th nationally in total defense (341.5).

    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 (409.8), are third in total offense (570.6), third in plays per game (85.6) and fifth in scoring (45.3). 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 was one of 40 nominees for the 2013 Broyles Award that honors the nation's top assistant coach.

    Davante Adams' Case As the Nation's Best WR
    • Won the 2013 Paul Warfield Award, presented by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, as the nation's best receiver.
    • His 23 touchdown catches leads the FBS by eight and is as many or more than 87 of the 123 FBS teams have this season.
    • Leads the FBS in receptions per game (10.2) and total receptions (122), while ranking second in the receiving yards per game (137.1) and total receiving yards (1,645 - a new school record).
    • Needs seven receptions to set a new MW record for catches in a year and 141 for the most receiving yardage in a season in league history.
    • 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.
    • Caught 10 or more passes in 6-of-12 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 11-of-12 games this season and in 19 of his last 20 games dating back to 2012. He has 37 career TDs in 25 games played.
    • Is the FBS active CAREER leader in receiving yards per game (118.3), receptions per game (9.0) and touchdown catches (37), despite the fact that his 25 career games played in is 18 less than any of the other players ranked in the top five.
    • Owns 11 school records, setting them in just two seasons.

    Great Protection
    Fresno State has only allowed 11 sacks in 12 games this year and is tied for ninth nationally in fewest sacks allowed. This is despite the fact that Fresno State has attempted at least 191 more passes than any of the eight teams ranked ahead of it in sacks allowed. The unit is anchored by left tackle Austin Wentworth, who has started in 41 consecutive games for the Bulldogs and made 42 starts overall in his career. Last year in the bowl game loss to SMU, Fresno State allowed a season-high seven sacks and after graduating two seniors from that unit, the 2013 Bulldog offensive line was the biggest question mark entering the season. Once the season hit however, there has been no question marks with the offensive line coached by Cameron Norcross, as his unit has posted five games this season without allowing a sack.

    Three-Headed Monster
    Following the Mountain West Championship game wide receivers Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper set a record that no other wideout trio has ever done this century. All three have now had a single game with 15-plus receptions this season. Burse caught a career-high 17 passes and tied the school record for most receptions in a single game last time out versus Utah State. He matched Josh Harper's record of 17 set this season on Nov. 2 in the `Dogs "Blackout" game. Harper broke the school record shared by Ron Jenkins (1987), Larry Willis (1984) and none other than current Bulldog Davante Adams, who tied the then-record of 16 receptions at Idaho on Oct. 5. The closest any wide receiver group has come to this season's three-headed monster of receivers was in 2008 when Eastern Michigan had two receivers catch 15-plus passes in a single game in the same season. Tyler Jones had 23 versus Central Michigan and Jacory Stone had 18 against Temple. They are the only duo to have reached 15 or more receptions in a game in the same season since 2000.

    Quarterback Menaces
    Utah State entered the Mountain West Championship game having allowed 23 sacks in 12 games, the `Dogs were able to get to the quarterback eight times as the Fresno State defense played a major role in its 24-17 win. Eight different Bulldogs were able to get past the Aggies line while Donavon Lewis and Kyrie Wilson each got the quarterback twice, a career-high for Wilson. Fresno State finished the regular season with 39 sacks in 12 games, which ranks tied for No. 1 in the FBS with Louisville and Utah for most per game. Also in the win the Bulldogs posted nine tackles for a loss for 51 yards. For the season Fresno State ranks No. 4 in the nation for tackles for loss, registering 8.2 per game, matching TCU.

    Burse Sets Fresno State All-Purpose Record
    Senior Isaiah Burse has set a new Bulldog record for all-purpose yardage in a career, breaking Bernard Berrian's record that has stood since 2003. Burse eclipsed Berrian's career record last game with 157 all-purpose yards. He now has 5,834 all-purpose yards, which is the fourth-most among all active FBS players. Burse, with his 17 receptions in the Mountain West Championship game that tied the school record for most catches in a game, also became the third Bulldog to eclipse 200 receptions in a career. His 204 career receptions ranks third in school history behind Rodney Wright (222) and teammate Davante Adams (224).

    Getting A Year Back
    Fresno State quarterback Brian Burrell, who transferred here from Bakersfield College last spring, was awarded a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA for his freshman season. Burrell started the first three games of the 2011 season, his freshman season, at Bakersfield College before suffering a season-ending injury. He will now have two seasons of playing eligibility remaining after this year.

    Team/Player Notebook
    • Redshirt freshman Dalen Jones made his first career start in the Mountain West Championship game at strong safety. He had two tackles, including a sack and intercepted a pass in the final minute of the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Not bad for your first career start.
    • Fresno State has won 13-straight home games and every single game at home under head coach Tim DeRuyter. That 13-game home winning streak is the longest since the 'Dogs won 17-straight at Bulldog Stadium from 1998-01.
    • The Bulldogs have won five games this season by seven points or less while USC is 3-2 in those games.
    • Marqise Lee of USC and Bulldog freshman wide receiver Darrell Fuery attended the same high school (Junipero Serra). Fuery is redshirting this season.

     

     

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