They started touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown and it doesn't much matter that the Fresno State Bulldogs were up against an extra large tomato can playing at Idaho, the Vandals ranked 118th in the nation in scoring defense and 122nd and next to last in total defense.
Quarterback Derek Carr hit Davante Adams with a 27-yard scoring pass, then with a 17-yard touchdown strike. Carr then connected with Josh Harper from 9 yards out, Marteze Waller scored on a 9-yard run and Fresno State in that opening quarter was looking a bit like Baylor and its point-a-minute offense.
In averaging 70.5 points per game, the Bears score ridiculously quickly -- 56 in their first 41 plays against Buffalo, 49 in their first 39 against Louisiana-Monroe ...
The Bulldogs had a game like that last season, racking up 55 points in the first half against Colorado while the offense ran 43 plays from scrimmage.
The thing is all of those games were played on home fields, with the Bears at this point playing Wofford at home, Buffalo at home, Louisiana-Monroe at home and West Virginia at home followed by an off week to catch their breath, which is like four buhs and a bye. Buh-bye.
Presumably, playing on the road is more difficult. Fresno State certainly has not started many games away from Bulldog Stadium like they did at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow.
The Bulldogs' first 28 points in their 61-14 victory came on 21 plays, and in the first half they had 47 points while running 59 plays from scrimmage.
Fresno State's offense scored .797 points per play in that first half, which fits with what Baylor has done this season against its FBS competition (.835) as well as Florida State (.767) and Oregon (.721), which have been the three most efficient offensive teams in the nation by points per play.
And that is up there with the best road starts for Fresno State over the past 10-plus years when the offense has taken care of all the scoring -- the Bulldogs have had games in there where they got scores on a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown, an interception return for a touchdown, a fumble return for a touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Year, opponent, Points, Plays P/P
** 2004, at San Jose State: 41, 44, .932
** 2004, at Rice: 28, 33, .848
** 2011, at Idaho: 24, 30, .800
** 2013, at Idaho: 47, 59, .797
** 2009, at Hawaii: 28, 36, .777
** 2009, at Idaho: 24, 32, .750
** 2004, at Kansas State: 31, 48, .646
** 2009, at Wisconsin: 21, 33, .636
** 2010, at Utah State: 17, 28, .607
** 2004, at USC: 21, 37, .567
The 47 first-half points the Bulldogs scored at Idaho are more than the 2006 team scored in the first halves of all six road games combined -- they had seven at Washington, zero at Utah State, three at Louisiana State, seven at Boise State, 14 at Louisiana Tech and 14 at San Jose State.
That all has to bode well for the next two months of football, considering the Bulldogs' toughest remaining games figure to come on the road as they try to make their way to a second consecutive Mountain West Conference championship and first-ever berth in a BCS bowl game.
Fresno State plays at Wyoming on Nov. 9 and at San Jose State to end the regular season Nov. 29. San Diego State might have figured a few things out after a chilling start and the Bulldogs go there, too, on Oct. 26.
The quick start at Idaho could be another building block for an offense in its second season in the up-tempo spread installed by coach Tim DeRuyter and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm.
Last year, when the Bulldogs were ranked 17th in the nation in scoring, they ripped up opponents when at home. But they had only six first-half points at Oregon, 20 at Tulsa, 14 at Colorado State, were held scoreless at Boise State, had 14 at New Mexico and had 21 at Nevada. The slow starts on the road definitely hurt.
To get where they want to go this season, they are going to have to hit at a higher percentage.
FEELING NORTHERN ILL
Northern Illinois moved closer to Fresno State in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, one of three components to the BCS standings. The Bulldogs are ranked 22nd and the Huskies are 23rd, so the race is on to see who can get into the top 16 or the top 12 of the final standings.
The champion of a non-automatic qualifying conference -- Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West or Sun Belt -- gets an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game if it is in the top 12 or in the top 16 and ranked higher than a conference champion from an AQ-conference.
One thing seems certain: Northern Illinois has a much easier schedule the rest of the way and could pass Fresno State at some point over the next two months, at least in the coaches' poll.
The Huskies still get to play two winless teams (0-5 Massachusetts and 0-6 Western Michigan) and two one-win teams (1-5 Akron and 1-4 Eastern Michigan). Their upcoming opponents are a combined 12-28, and they get 5-1 Ball State at home and play at 5-3 Toledo.
The Bulldogs' upcoming opponents are a combined 15-16, and Fresno State has to play the two highest-ranked teams in the Sagarin Ratings still on the schedule on the road, at Wyoming and at San Jose State.
** Utah State lost quarterback Chuckie Keeton for the season when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee in a loss to Brigham Young, which obviously changes the dynamic there. "We're going to have to fit (backup Craig Harrison's) strengths to our running backs strengths and play behind the big O-line," coach Matt Wells said. "We're going to have to find a way to score points."
** The Mountain West has six of its 12 teams ranked 90th or lower in total defense: San Diego State (94th), Fresno State (97th), Hawaii (105th), New Mexico (109th), Nevada (117th) and Air Force (118th).
** San Diego State had been one of the better defensive teams in the second half of its games, ranking third in the MW with 12.0 points allowed. The Aztecs gave up 21 in the fourth quarter to Nevada, allowing the Wolf Pack to come back from a 44-23 deficit to force overtime before escaping with a 51-44 victory. The 95 points are the most in a San Diego State game since 1993 when Fresno State beat the Aztecs 63-37.
** New Mexico went into the weekend ranked third in the bowl subdivision in rushing, but after churning out 541 yards on the ground and averaging 9.7 yards per play in a blowout of New Mexico State the Lobos are now at the top of the charts, averaging 367.8 yards per game. Oregon, which was leading the nation, dropped to third after gaining only 349 yards in beating Colorado.
** Nevada's Cody Fajardo could be the third quarterback this season to pass the record for consecutive passes without an interception, which going into the season was 178 set by Casey Bramlet from Wyoming in 2003. The Cowboys Brett Smith was the first, getting to 183 before throwing a pick. The Bulldogs' Carr was the second, his streak ending at 180. Fajardo is at 158 and counting.
** San Jose State snapped a three-game losing streak with a win at Hawaii. When Austin Lopez kicked a 44-yard field goal on the Spartans' opening drive, it marked the first time San Jose State had led in a game since its opening victory over Sacramento State on Aug. 29.
** Hawaii is 0-5 for the first time since 1998 and is one of nine winless teams remaining in the bowl subdivision. Not that it is leading anywhere, but the Rainbow Warriors gained 431 yards against Fresno State and then 473 against San Jose State, which is the first time in the year-plus under coach Norm Chow that they have produced 400 or more yards of offense in back-to-back games.
ADAMS' RECORD PACE
Davante Adams is closing in on the all-time record for touchdown receptions at Fresno State, with his three at Idaho bringing his career total to 21 in just 18 games.
The record of 25 was set by Henry Ellard (1979-'82), then matched by Charlie Jones (1992-'95) and Bernard Berrian (1999-'03), all of whom have a number of games played on Adams.
To put that in better perspective, in just one season plus five games, the sophomore already is ahead of the career TD receptions leader at two schools in the Mountain West with a chance to move past at least a couple more by the end of the year.
** Ryan Yarbrough, Wyoming: 42, 1990-'93
** Davone Bess, Hawaii: 41, 2005-'07
** Austin Pettis, Boise State: 39, 2007-'10
** Terance Mathis, New Mexico: 36, 1985-'89
** Trevor Insley, Nevada: 35, 1996-'99
** Tom Reynolds, San Diego State: 31, 1969-'71
** Ernie Jennings, Air Force: 28, 1968-'70
** Phillip Payne, UNLV: 26, 2008-'11
** Kendall Smith, Utah State: 25, 1985-'88
** Davante Adams, Fresno State: 21, 2012-'13
** Jeff Champine, Colorado State: 21, 1980-'83
** Chandler Jones, San Jose State: 19, 2010-'13
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @rkuwada on Twitter. His Mountain West: Week in Review report runs on Wednesdays during the Fresno State football and basketball seasons. Read his daily updates at fresnobee.com/bulldogs.