Fresno State checked in at No. 17 in the first BCS standings released Sunday, close enough to securing a berth in the first big-time bowl in school history that coach Tim DeRuyter said such chatter could become more of a driver and less of a distraction for the Bulldogs.
Into the second half of the season at 6-0, it is all right there for them and will be each week if they continue to do the expected — win football games, next up a road test at San Diego State.
“I think our guys knew back in January that we had the potential to have this kind of a season and so they know — and it gets magnified during the season when you see teams that are favored get upset — that if we’re not being held accountable, if we’re not going out and practicing efficiently, that this whole thing can vanish in the blink of an eye,” DeRuyter said.
“It does give you drive to continue to get better each week. Sometimes those things in a season that maybe you’re not having much success guys tend to maybe tune it out. But they know if they get better we have a better chance to go 1-0 every week and there’s that pot at the end of the rainbow that maybe we can capture if we keep doing that.”
To secure an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game, a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference such as Fresno State has to finish in the Top 12 of the final BCS standings or finish in the Top 16 and be ranked ahead of a champion from an automatic-qualifying conference — the Atlantic Coast, American Athletic, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or Southeastern.
The standings are determined through a percentage of votes in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and Harris Poll, with a composite ranking of six computer models comprising the final third.
At No. 17 the Bulldogs are ahead of the three teams tied for first place in the American Athletic Conference — Houston, Central Florida and South Florida — as well as Louisville, which is No. 20 in the first BCS standings after suffering a home loss to Central Florida in a weekend of upsets in college football. Central Florida is No. 23 in the standings.
The Top 12 teams are Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, Missouri, Stanford, Miami, Baylor, Clemson, Texas Tech, Auburn and UCLA.
Northern Illinois, the Mid-American Conference, is another one of 10 remaining undefeated teams in the bowl subdivision and came in No. 18 in the first BCS standings.
That will all be sorted out on the football field over the next seven weeks, but the Bulldogs know that they are in a position for an historic season. As the standings stand Fresno State plays only one team with a record above .500 to close out the regular season — Wyoming is 4-3, San Diego State and San Jose State are 3-3, Nevada is 3-4 and New Mexico is 2-5.
That, DeRuyter said, should sharpen focus on the tasks ahead.
“Most non-BCS schools, one loss is going to knock you out, and our guys know that,” he said. “But we also know that it’s well within our control that we can win every single week and all we have to do is take care of what we need to take care of. We’ve got a big challenge this week with San Diego State, we have to win on the road, which is always tough, and San Diego State is on a three-game winning streak.
“It gets your guys just a little more juiced to think, you know, ‘Hey, we can’t slip up. Let’s get them every week.’ You can go two ways with it, one being you’re so worried about the BCS that you don’t take care of business, but the way hopefully our guys take this and as coaches we’re going to emphasize, we have this opportunity, but it never comes to you if you don’t go 1-0. If you don’t all that stuff can come crashing down.
“I think that’s why every week we’ve had focused practices and guys have gotten better. Our running game has gotten better. Our protection has gotten better. We’re defending better. All those things have to happen during the season if you want to keep going 1-0 every week.
--Fresno State moved up two spots in the Associated Press Top 25 to No. 15 and one spot to No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
-- Fresno State running back Marteze Waller, who suffered a right foot injury in the fourth quarter Saturday, will have an MRI today.
1. Alabama .9841 2. Florida State .9348 3. Oregon .9320 4. Ohio State .8553 5. Missouri .8219 6. Stanford .7414 7. Miami .7200 8. Baylor .7120 9. Clemson .6249 10. Texas Tech .6220 11. Auburn .5058 12. UCLA .4807 13. LSU .4552 14. Virginia Tech .4408 15. Oklahoma .4204 16. Texas A&M .3666 17. Fresno State .3379 18. Northern Illinois .3032 19. Oklahoma State .2687 20. Louisville .2556 21. South Carolina .2161 22. Michigan .1637 23. Central Florida .1394 24. Nebraska .1354 25. Oregon State .1042