Fresno State can't afford to overlook Cal Poly on Saturday night.
But I can.
That's one of the perks of the job, besides the free press box seat. I can overlook Cal Poly because nothing these fingers tap tap tap into the keyboard will make the slightest bit of difference what happens in the game.
They've given me some new journalist powers, but they're not that strong.
I'm not saying Cal Poly has no chance. Not after last week around college football when a record eight teams from the FCS upset teams from the FBS. The Mustangs are ranked No. 10 in the FCS, meaning they're darn good for that level. They have a well-respected coach in Tim Walsh (Boise State's Chris Petersen and TCU's Gary Patterson are former assistants), and two Fresno natives starting on defense (Memorial High product Sullivan Grosz and Edison's Vante Smith-Johnson) who undoubtedly will have extra motivation.
Fresno State won't give them one. The Bulldogs clearly have more talent and size — they don't grow guys like Davante Adams and Tyeler Davison in the FCS — and there's no way complacency creeps in after Rutgers came within a missed field goal of flushing all the talk of a special season.
I'm overlooking Cal Poly in order to get to the two defining games on the schedule: Colorado and Boise State.
One you expected; the other you probably didn't.
The Bulldogs haven't lost fewer than three games since 1991, their last year before joining the Western Athletic Conference, so I'm not even going to broach 12-0 at this point.
But 4-0, the record Fresno State probably needs to crack the Top 25, is more tangible. Difficult to attain, but tangible. And then things would really get interesting.
Colorado was a national punchline last season, its second in the Pac-12, and the Bulldogs were a big reason why. Fresno State's 69-14 romp at Bulldog Stadium (it was 35-0 after the first quarter and 55-7 at halftime) sent the Buffaloes on a 1-11 spiral that led to coach Jon Embree's dismissal.
Except this isn't the same Colorado team. First-year coach Mike MacIntyre, the guy who turned around San Jose State, is already doing similar things in the Rockies.
The Buffaloes won their opener 41-27 over rival Colorado State, dominating the game except for two special teams breakdowns. Connor Wood passed for 400 yards, and Paul Richardson returned from a knee injury that cost him all of last season to catch 10 passes for 208 yards and two long touchdowns.
For Bulldogs fans, as well as defensive coordinator Nick Toth, the most troubling aspect of last week's 52-51 overtime escape job had to be watching Rutgers receivers Brandon Coleman and Leonte Carroo get behind and dart through the secondary. (Problems against the run are more easily fixed.)
Richardson has the speed and elusiveness to do the same thing.
"It exposed a lot of things we need to work on," said Davison, the Bulldogs' all-conference nose guard.
Next week's trip to Boulder, Colo., will be Fresno State's first road game. But this is no ordinary trip. The Bulldogs not only have to deal with altitude (Folsom Field sits at 5,430 feet elevation) but also a rare 11 a.m. Pacific kickoff.
There better not be any crusty eyes because you know Colorado will be extra caffeinated.
If the Bulldogs can get past Colorado — and that's a big "if" — then come two words that cause shivers around these parts: Boise State.
I caught most of Boise State's 38-6 loss to Washington, the biggest beatdown anyone has handed the Broncos since Georgia got them 48-13 in 2005, the year before Petersen replaced Dan Hawkins. Not by coincidence, that's also the last time Fresno State defeated its nemesis.
Boise State has won the past seven meetings against the Bulldogs by 10 or more points, four by 20 or more. Forget physical talent. It's a mental block taller than El Capitan.
You'd think an 84-9 career record and a history of brilliant play calling (remember the 2007 Fiesta Bowl?) would make Petersen immune to criticism. Think again.
The eighth-year coach is catching heat for simplifying a dense playbook that made it nearly impossible for new quarterbacks to learn the system. Gone are many of the pre-snap shifts and between-play personnel group swaps that kept the Broncos one step ahead of defenses. Now they're more like Nevada.
By the time Boise State visits in two weeks, odds are good that second-year quarterback Joe Southwick will have things ironed out. He'd better because Fresno State has yet to score fewer than 37 points on its home field since Tim DeRuyter took over, and the Broncos don't look nearly as stout defensively.
So, yes, I'm overlooking Cal Poly and focusing on Colorado and Boise State because those are the two games that will set the course for the season. If the Bulldogs can find a way to go 4-0, they'd enter a soft stretch of the schedule with more momentum than a 300-pound cyclist coming down the four-lane from Shaver Lake.
Players and coaches have to take these things one game at a time. Fans and columnists don't, which gives us something in common. It should be quite a ride, one we'll be taking together.
The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6218 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MarekTheBee.