MOSCOW, Idaho — Finally, Fresno State looked like a nationally ranked team should against a significantly lesser foe.
Rather than just holding on to a victory as they did twice earlier this season, the No. 23 Bulldogs never relented Saturday afternoon against Idaho, even as their lead grew to as great as 54 en route to a 61-14 domination.
Fresno State (5-0) had 734 total yards, the second most in school history, with Derek Carr passing for 419 and five touchdowns before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Davante Adams tied a school record with 16 catches, amassing 185 yards and three touchdowns.
And the defense generated a season-best five turnovers and tied a season high with seven sacks.
"We got too much talent on this team to not do what we did today — to start fast and finish strong," said Fresno State safety Derron Smith.
"That's mainly what the coaches wanted, and we got it done. We know what we had to do, keep executing, keep the pedal to the metal and not let up."
The Kibbie Dome blowout before an announced crowd of 14,747 marked the 10th straight regular-season game that the Bulldogs have scored at least 40 points.
And it was Fresno State's largest margin of victory since beating Colorado 69-14 early last season.
The problem this year — despite all the points on the offensive side — had been Fresno State's bad habit of letting teams back in games after building large leads. It happened last week in a 42-37 win at Hawaii and in a 41-25 victory in Week 2 against Football Championship Subdivision team Cal Poly.
So even after Fresno State raced to a 28-0 lead after one quarter Saturday, then expanded it to 47-0 at halftime, how the Bulldogs performed in the second half remained the final piece.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter challenged the Bulldogs all week to play hard and execute for an entire game — both starters and backups.
To remind his team once more before kickoff, DeRuyter pointed again to injured cornerback Sean Alston, out for the season but an oft-used symbol of how important it is to play each down until the final whistle to avoid the game being unexpectedly taken away.
As further motivation, DeRuyter headed to the locker room fuming at the half. In a halftime interview on radio flagship 940ESPN, DeRuyter said he heard Idaho coaches telling players to hit Carr late.
He threatened to score 100 points on the Vandals.
Fresno State didn't get there, but tacked on 14 second-half points and saw a running game that has struggled most of this season serve as a key to keeping the blowout intact.
The Bulldogs amassed a season-best 312 rushing yards and won the second-half time of possession duel 16:43 to 11:59.
Marteze Waller ran for a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns.
Among those who heard DeRuyter's message of playing hard till the end was multipurpose reserve Dillon Root, who last year played running back, switched to slot receiver in the offseason, then moved to cornerback last month.
Root blitzed in for back-to-back sacks on the game's final two plays.
"If you're a 2 or 3 and you get in there, you can't let the intensity drop," DeRuyter said of the need for reserves to step up when called. "I was happy our guys did that. … Our guys have a lot of pride. When you challenge them to play hard for 60 minutes, they're going to play hard for 60 minutes."
Fresno State put itself in position for a blowout with Carr's first-half precision passing. He picked apart Idaho's soft coverage that often left top receiver Adams single covered.
Adams, publicly criticized by coaches for his effort last week in Hawaii when he had five receptions but for just 22 yards, caught Carr's first two touchdown passes Saturday.
The second was an impressive one-handed snag. The sophomore helped set up Fresno State's fourth touchdown with a 30-yard catch, and his third TD catch made it 44-0.
"I wasn't too surprised 'cause I'd seen on film they were stubborn, no matter who they played, they kind of just stuck to what they do," Adams said of facing single coverage. "When that happens, you just got to take advantage and let them know you can't do that type of stuff against (guys) like the receivers we have here."
Whenever the Vandals (1-5) managed any type of positive productivity, the Bulldogs defense seemed to respond with a big stop — often via a turnover.
Idaho had 123 total yards in the first half. The Vandals didn't score until 13:11 was left, and only when facing a Bulldogs front seven that comprised backups.
"Last week, we struggled in the second half," Smith said. "It's a confidence booster when you say you want to do something and you come out and do it."
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