1992 Freedom Bowl: Fresno State 24, USC 7
They called it Farmer State. They called it Tractor U. They even called them hicks.
Give the Los Angeles critics of Fresno State football credit. They were right.
Like only a country boy could, the Bulldogs took the Hollywood kids of USC behind the shed Tuesday night and delivered a licking in the Freedom Bowl that will forever be remembered in the lore of Bulldogs football.
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Fresno State won it 24-7, and it wasn't that close.
Failing on several opportunities for three quarters, the Bulldogs mixed punishing rushing with a few clutch Trent Dilfer passes to bury the No. 23-ranked Trojans (6-5-1) with a 14-0 fourth quarter.
Fresno State (9-4) finished with a 405-183 advantage in total yards, treating a Red Tidal Wave numbering an estimated 28,000 fans to a performance not seen by USC this year.
Not No. 5 Notre Dame, not No. 9 Washington, not No. 18 Washington State, not No. 22 Arizona, nobody dominated the Trojans as the Bulldogs did in closing their season with six straight victories.
"Biggest win in the history of Fresno State football -- by far," Bulldogs coach Jim Sweeney said.
It also went a long way to heal wounds Sweeney absorbed against USC while coaching at Washington State, with which he was 0-7 against the Trojans.
"Most of the people that have beaten me in my life, I've stayed around long enough to beat them back," said Sweeney, then 63.
-- Andy Boogaard, The Bee, Dec. 30, 1992
2005 regular season: No. 1 USC 50, No. 16 Fresno State 42
That's all that stood between Fresno State and a chance to force overtime.
"We had it," Bulldogs receiver Joe Fernandez said.
One complete pass.
That's all the Bulldogs needed to keep their unfathomable dream alive.
"I was so sure we were going to go down there and score," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said.
One final mistake, an end-zone interception with 97 seconds left in the game, ruined it all Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
No. 1 USC 50, No. 16 Fresno State 42.
"It was a really good job by Fresno State, " said Trojans coach Pete Carroll, whose team remains in the chase for a third straight national title. "Their entire team was a factor. No question, they should be top 10."
Of all the Trojans' 33 straight victories, and 15 straight against Top 25 teams, few came with such difficulty.
"We were on the doorstep to beat the No. 1 team in the nation," Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar said. "Too many mistakes at costly times."
-- David White, The Bee, Nov. 20, 2005