For Fresno State, the week in review is also a preview of the biggest game in the Mountain West Conference to this point. The Bulldogs will play a major role in it, not as stooges as they have in the past to Boise State teams that routinely have flattened them, but as an adversary to a team that while not its old self is 4-1 and riding a four-game winning streak.
The Broncos got there by winning 40-14 last week at Southern Mississippi, which would suggest things are falling into place for a young team and a program that is 77-7 over the past six-plus seasons under coach Chris Petersen and the highest scoring bowl subdivision team since 2000.
But are they really?
In the victory at Southern Miss, the Broncos' first four touchdowns came off turnovers, their scoring drives covering 11, 35, 44 and 27 yards as they bolted to a 30-0 third-quarter lead.
Kudos for the turnovers and all, but reviewing that 26-point victory over the 0-5 Golden Eagles only points to potential problems, particularly with an offense that has struggled against better opponents -- and that list should not include winless Southern Miss.
Boise State faced just one third down in those four touchdown drives -- a third-and-1 from the Southern Miss 26-yard line. The Golden Eagles stuffed a rush on that play for no gain, but the Boise State drive continued on a face mask penalty.
For the game, the Broncos converted only 18.2% (2 of 11) of their third-down plays against a Southern Miss defense ranked 115th of 120 bowl subdivision teams in third-down defense, having allowed opponents to convert 51% (35 of 68) of those plays into first downs.
Boise State also had to punt seven times -- as many punts as the Golden Eagles had forced against Nebraska (one), Western Kentucky (two) and Louisville (four) combined. And of those seven drives, four were three-and-outs for the Broncos and on two more they ran just four plays.
There's more ...
Boise State's leading rusher was D.J. Harper with 47 yards on 13 plays, and the Broncos rushed for 109 yards on 33 plays against a Southern Miss defense that went into the game allowing 222 yards per game rushing and ranked 109th in the bowl subdivision.
Boise State had 310 yards of offense against a defense that went in ranked 78th, allowing 422 yards per game. Broncos quarterbacks Joe Southwick and Grant Hedrick passed for 201 yards and had a more-than-solid passing efficiency rating of 145.95, but it came against a unit that went in ranked 118th in passing efficiency defense allowing a rating of 163.55.
And it looked no better on the flip side.
Southern Miss surpassed its high in total offense by 100 yards -- a team ranked 119th going in with an average of 274 yards per game managed to gain 424 against the Broncos. The Golden Eagles' best had been 324 yards against an East Carolina team allowing 410 per game.
The Broncos also allowed Southern Miss a season high in passing yards (243) and first downs (21), and Boise State had only four tackles for a loss, the fewest the Golden Eagles have allowed this season. East Carolina had 12 tackles for a loss against them, and the Pirates average only 5.2 per game.
Some of that may be due to playing a second road game in a row -- the Broncos played at New Mexico the previous week -- or to an early 10 a.m. kickoff on Boise time (MDT).
Or that might just be Boise State this season. The Broncos lost a lot of experience with quarterback Kellen Moore and others now in the NFL, and are in catch-up mode.
The Broncos' best win is against Brigham Young, when Boise State didn't even score an offensive touchdown. Their other victories are against Southern Miss, New Mexico and Miami (Ohio), teams that in the Sagarin ratings are 109th, 120th and 121st, with as many as 11 championship subdivision teams ranked ahead of them.
Boise State scored 37 points in beating Miami (Ohio), a team that has allowed 49 and 52 the past two weeks to Akron and Cincinnati and has held only Southern Illinois (a 3-3 championship subdivision team) and a winless Massachusetts (0-6) to fewer than 20 points.
The Broncos scored 32 in beating New Mexico, which has allowed 29 points per game and is ranked 83rd in the bowl subdivision in scoring defense.
Sounds like more of a starting point than the scintillating Boise State teams from the past.
"We're making progress. We still have a lot of work to do, we really do," Peterson said. "We've got a lot of new guys, a lot of young guys. You know, everybody talks about all the kids that went into the NFL off this last year's team. It's really our last two teams.
"You just can't take that for granted and say, 'OK, same old people,' because you're not. That's too much firepower that has left here and it takes a while to develop guys."
So, where exactly is this Boise State team?
That's hard to figure, but there are a few clues to follow. The only thing Fresno State knows for sure is where the Broncos will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Last weeks MWC results (home team in caps)
Navy 28, AIR FORCE 21 (OT)
Boise State 40, SOUTHERN MISS 14
NEW MEXICO 35, Texas State 14
Fresno State 28, COLORADO STATE 7
at LOUISIANA TECH 58, UNLV 31
NEVADA 35, Wyoming 28 (OT)
SAN DIEGO STATE 52, Hawaii 14
This weeks schedule
Nevada (5-1) at UNLV (1-5), noon
Fresno State (4-2) at Boise State (4-1), 12:30 p.m.
Colorado State (1-5) at San Diego State (3-3), 3:30 p.m.
Air Force (2-3) at Wyoming (1-4),4 p.m.
New Mexico (3-3) at Hawaii (1-4), 9 p.m.
Of note: The Fresno State game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.
Close to a shutout
Fresno State had a chance to coldly dispatch Colorado State last week and make a little history in the process, and the Bulldogs defense certainly did its part to make that happen.
But rather than pound away the game against a Rams defense that had been on the field far too long, coach Tim DeRuyter decided not to go into a 4-minute offense so they could get the backups some work.
The Bulldogs ended up punting and Colorado State made its way 77 yards for a score after getting the football back with 1:37 to play when the game should have been over.
To that point, the Bulldogs were in line for their first shutout over a bowl subdivision opponent since a 30-0 victory over San Jose State on Oct. 20, 2007; their first shutout on the road of what probably would be a bowl subdivision opponent (if they still were fielding a football team) since a 20-0 victory over Pacific on Nov. 13, 1965; and they had allowed the Rams only 172 yards.
It's not often Fresno State holds a bowl subdivision opponent to fewer than 200 yards -- the last time was Nov. 15, 2008, against New Mexico State, the Aggies gaining 183. And if the Bulldogs had ended the game right there, it would have been their second best defensive day since 2000.
Here are the Bulldogs' fewest yards allowed against bowl subdivision opponents the past 12 seasons:
164, vs. UCLA in a 17-9 victory in the Silicon Valley Classic on Dec. 30, 2003.
180, at Kansas State in a 45-21 victory on Sept. 12, 2004.
183, vs. New Mexico State in a 24-17 victory on Nov. 15, 2008.
195, at New Mexico State in a 37-7 victory on Oct. 8, 2005.
200, at Southern Methodist in a 38-13 victory on Nov. 10, 2001.
200, at San Jose State in a 24-10 victory on Nov. 21, 2008.
202, vs. Utah State in a 53-10 victory on Oct. 15, 2005.
234, vs. Cincinnati in a 28-14 victory on Sept. 4, 2010.
259, vs. San Jose State in a 45-17 victory on Nov. 5, 2005.
267, at Utah State in a 13-12 loss on Oct. 7, 2006.
267, vs. New Mexico State in a 33-10 victory on Oct. 16, 2010.
- New Mexico running back Kasey Carrier rushed 23 times for 191 yards and four touchdowns in a homecoming victory against Texas State, gaining more yards than any Lobos back since Rodney Ferguson had 210 against San Diego State in 2006.
- San Diego State has scored 217 points in its past five games -- 42 in a win over Army, 49 in beating North Dakota, 24 and 40 in losses to San Jose State and Fresno State, and 52 in a victory over Hawaii. That is its most productive five-game stretch since they scored 230 points in 1996.
- Fresno State was blanked again on its opening drive of the second half, now 0 for 6 this season. The last time the Bulldogs scored on their first possession after halftime was a loss at New Mexico State last year, 10 games and counting.
- Nevada back Stefphon Jefferson (El Diamante High) rushed for only 78 yards and the Wolf Pack had 127 in its overtime victory against Wyoming, snapping their streak of 14 consecutive games with a 100-yard rusher. That was the longest active streak in the nation.
- UNLV rolled up 536 yards in a loss at Louisiana Tech, the most it has had in a game since gaining 559 against Colorado State in 2007.
- Hawaii generated only 173 yards of offense in its loss at San Diego State and has gone back-to-back games without gaining 200 or more for the first time since 1996. The Warriors had only 149 yards in a loss at BYU two weeks ago.
- Coach Bob Davie has New Mexico 3-3, the three wins matching their total for the past three years combined, and at .500 this is the Lobos' best record this late in a season since they were 4-4 in 2008.
- Air Force back Cody Getz rushed for 203 yards in a loss to Navy, his third game with 200 or more. San Diego State's Larry Ned is the only other back in MWC history to have three games with 200 or more rushing yards in one season -- he did it in 2001. Getz and the Falcons still face Hawaii, Wyoming and Army, teams ranked 106th, 111th and 113th in rushing defense.
Wolf Pack receiver Kendall Brock (Clovis West High) had two catches for 30 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, against Wyoming. He has three catches for 49 yards this season and nine kickoff returns for 177 yards (19.7 average).
You're outta here
Wyoming is going to struggle without quarterback Brett Smith, which was established when the Cowboys generated only 260 yards and lost to Cal Poly when Smith was out with an injury.
They missed him again in that overtime loss at Nevada -- after he was ejected for a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The penalty that got Smith tossed came with 8:16 remaining and Wyoming leading 28-21. He reacted after officials picked up a penalty flag thrown against Nevada on a third-and-9 pass that fell incomplete.
The first unsportsmanlike had been called after he had scored on an 8-yard touchdown run to put the Cowboys into the lead in the fourth.
Coach Dave Christensen was not too happy with the officials, obviously.
"He is running off the field and is 3 yards from the sideline and takes his helmet off and he gets kicked out of the game? That's unbelievable," he said. "The (official) said he swore. Do we think people don't swear out there? That's remarkable you can have that kind of impact."
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