There were some big numbers in that football game Saturday, with the Fresno State Bulldogs beating UNLV 38-14. Quarterback Derek Carr set a school record for career touchdown passes and surpassed the 10,000-yard mark in career passing yards. Davante Adams tied a schoolrecord with four touchdown receptions and in doing so the career record as well with his 25th.
But the loneliest number -- one -- might be just as significant for the Bulldogs.
There was one explosive play of 20 or more yards allowed by the Fresno State defense, which has had a problem with such things since the start of the season, allowing three plays of 60 or more yards, four plays of 50 or more yards, two plays of 40 or more yards.
That play Saturday by the Rebels, a 73-yard touchdown run by Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, no doubt hurt.
It's obviously not the only one. Through six games, Fresno State has defended 480 plays. Of those, opponents have gained 1,312 yards on 445 plays and 1,206 yards on the other 35.
That's 2.9 yards per play and 34.5 yards per play, and one very large discrepancy. Close to half of the total yards allowed have come on 7.8% of the plays.
If the Bulldogs had been able to cut down just a few of those explosive plays, they'd be in line with some of the best defenses in the bowl subdivision:
Fewest yards per play:
Team, yards per play, number of plays of 20+ yards
- 1, Michigan State, 3.59, 16
- 2, Virginia Tech, 3.97, 22
- 3, Florida State, 4.21, 12
- 4, Baylor, 4.25, 22
- 5, Marshall, 4.29, 18
- 6, Wisconsin, 4.40, 19
- 7, Louisville, 4.44, 25
- 8, Oregon, 4.46, 18
- 9, Texas Tech, 4.55, 26
- T10, Florida, 4.64, 24
- T10, UCLA, 4.64, 19
The number of big plays allowed also has been decreasing game to game, which is significant. There were eight explosive plays allowed against Rutgers, eight more against Cal Poly, seven against Boise State, seven more at Hawaii, four at Idaho and just the one against UNLV.
"If it doesn't decrease, then you're not very good," defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. "I know we're a good defense. Our consistency has to continue to get better. It's gotten better the last couple weeks and we're going to challenge them to get better again."
The Bulldogs did end the UNLV game allowing only 89 yards in the second half while shutting out the Rebels, scuttling their run game and getting more pressure on quarterback Caleb Herring, who hit only 12 of 24 passes 68 yards in the third and fourth quarters.
And the Rebels had come in on what, for them, was a historic roll, having gained 500 or more yards in back-to-back games for the first time going back through 2001.
Fresno State is second in the bowl subdivision in tackles for a loss with 9.3 per game and third in sacks with 3.67 per game, so it appears to be finding the consistency that has been missing.
"I think we're trending in that direction, but every day we're fighting that battle," Toth said. "Like we said early in the year: You're never where you want to be when you start, and somebody laughed at me when I said this, but you have to be exposed to figure out who you're going to be in the end.
"You don't want to be peaking right now. You want to be finding out exactly what needs to be fixed and peaking as we go through weeks 10, 11 and 12. I think that's what's happening a little bit -- guys are growing into the defense, the defense is growing into the guys. And although we have a lot of guys back, there are a lot of guys that aren't, so, Karl (Mickelsen) and Kyrie (Wilson) are playing real reps. They're in week seven right now of this defense, playing games. I think we're growing into it a little bit and I think the calls are fitting the kids a little bit better, too."
Adams caught four touchdown passes Carr in the victory against UNLV, tying the Fresno State record for touchdown catches in a career with 25 in only his 19th game.
In less than two full seasons, the sophomore already is on Fresno State's career lists for receptions (sixth with 162), receiving yards (eighth with 2,029) and receiving touchdowns (tied for 1st with 25).
How did the other Bulldogs on that receiving touchdowns list fare in their first two seasons? They're not quite where Adams is, at this point in his career.
- Henry Ellard (1979-’80): 37 catches for 629 yards and six TDs, finished career with 25
- Charlie Jones (1992-’95): 62 catches for 1,202 yards and 10 TDs, finished career with 25
- Bernard Berrian (1999-2000): 41 catches for 596 yards and five TDs, finished career with 25
- Rodney Wright (1998-99): 74 catches for 1,123 yards and nine TDs, finished career with 23
- Charles Smith (1998-’99): 94 catches for 1,221 yards and 10 TDs, finished career with 19
- Malcolm Seabron (1990-’91): 30 catches for 598 yards and three TDs, finished career with 18
- Joe Fernandez (2003-’04): 60 catches for 711 yards and four TDs, finished career with 16
- Jalen Saunders (2010-’11): 80 catches for 1,527 yards and 15 TDs, finished with 15
- Brian Roberson (1993-’94): 55 catches for 950 yards and five TDs, finished with 15
** Nevada knocked Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick out of the game with a broken ankle on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage on Saturday. It is the third year in a row the Wolf Pack has sent an opposing quarterback to the sideline with a broken ankle following Ryan Katz (San Diego State) in 2012 and Bryant Moniz (Hawaii) in 2012. Nevada still can't stop anyone, though. The Pack allowed 407 rushing yards in a 34-17 loss to the Broncos and has allowed 250 or more rushing yards in five of seven games.
** New Mexico went into its matchup against Utah State with the second-best rushing attack in the bowl subdivision, gaining an average of 349.3 yards per game on the ground. In the first half, the Lobos could muster only 43 yards on 26 plays and that was the end of them. They trailed 31-3 at the half.
** Up 38-3 with eight minutes remaining, Utah State scored its final points in a 45-10 victory on a fake punt that was not actually a fake punt. Punter Jaron Bentrude took the snap and then just took off, rambling 72 yards for a touchdown. "It was not a fake punt, they gave it to us," coach Matt Wells said. "It's their job to contain the punt and that wasn't on. It's something that the kicker did and we do it in practice all the time, and it was not called."
** Colorado State won the Border War for the first time since 2008, beating Wyoming 52-22 in Laramie. That is the most points the Rams have scored in the series since a 60-0 win in 1922 and the most they have scored in a MW game since beating Brigham Young 58-13 in 2003.
** Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence had 3.5 sacks in a victory over Nevada, the most by a player in the bowl subdivision this season and the first time a Broncos player had three or more in a game since Andrew Browning had three in 2006, also against the Wolf Pack.
** San Diego State is the only one of 13 bowl subdivision teams that started the season 0-3 that has made it to 3-3 after six games, but inconsistency reigns. Coach Rocky Long: "At times, we look pretty good. At other times, we don't look like we even practice. So that just must be this team's personality, and hopefully we'll play good enough to win some more games."
Boise State lost Southwick to that broken ankle on its first play from scrimmage but still managed to run all over Nevada in a 34-17 victory, which was the Broncos program's 50th in a row in October.
The Broncos have not lost this month since Rice got them in 2001, beating 18 programs in that stretch quite often by wide margins. Only eight of those 50 games have been decided by fewer than 10 points.
Here is the top of Boise State's October hit list:
- 6-0 against San Jose State, average score 48-11
- 5-0 against Hawaii, average score 50-18
- 5-0 against Fresno State, average score 45-19
- 5-0 against Louisiana Tech, average score 46-21
- 5-0 against Nevada, average score 46-23
- 5-0 against Tulsa, average score 39-23
Boise State ends the month with a Friday night game at Brigham Young.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com 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.