The Fresno State football team will have some company on Saturday night in Reno after a surge of students signed up for a road trip that includes a free bus trip and ticket to the game.
The plan was to charter one bus, with the tickets paid for by the athletic department and the charter to be paid for by the university. But a second bus for students has been added and then a booster stepped up to pay for tickets and a charter bus for any fans wishing to go watch the Bulldogs take on Nevada in a game that likely will decide the West Division champion in the Mountain West Conference.
Students and fans will be able to sign up for a seat on the second or third bus starting at 9 a.m. Thursday at tables set up in front of the North Gym on campus.
"We started the campaign of Paint Reno Red and our fans are obliging to make that happen," said Paul Ladwig, senior associate athletics director for external relations.
"What's interesting is watching what Nevada is doing to say, 'Let's not let that happen.' They've started a campaign on their end that says, 'Hey, Nevada fans, don't let Fresno do this to our stadium.' I think it's great for both schools. I think it sells tickets. I think it makes the game better. I think it's tremendous that it's catching on fire and people understand that this is a big football game. More than likely, whoever wins this game is going to go to the Mountain West championship game."
Coach Tim DeRuyter was happy to hear of the added boost from the rooting section.
"We've got a fantastic following," he said. "The Red Wave has done a great job all season long and since we've been here. They realize that they're a big part of our success and it just feels great as a coaching staff and players that we've got fans that are willing to embrace the cold up there and be there to cheer us on and hopefully watch us win."
The high in Reno on Saturday is expected to be 50 degrees with a low of 26 degrees.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Cornerback Dalen Jones back in lineup and confident
When Fresno State was making some changes in its secondary earlier this season, with strong safety Charles Washington moving to cornerback, the first call did not go to Dalen Jones.
But Jones started in the Bulldogs' victory against San Jose State, will be out there on Saturday at Nevada and there was a lot of work to do in between his first career starts last season in the MW championship game against Utah State and Las Vegas Bowl against USC and the game against the Spartans.
"It was playbook, having confidence in myself and being able to recognize stuff because I'm an older guy now, I'm not a young guy, so I have to be out there and be able to make calls out there and trust myself to make that call," Jones said. "I feel like I'm a lot better at it, especially coming from last year and the beginning of the season to now. I'm feeling more confident out there and I'm able to move a lot faster than I was and that's a big step right there.
"It feels amazing, because I'm having fun out there at the same time. If I didn't know what I was doing out there I'd be stuck stressing and nervous. Now I'm confident. I'm ready to play."
Turnover game could play part
The last time Fresno State played at Nevada, a 52-36 victory in 2012 played in some frigid conditions, the Bulldogs scored three defensive touchdowns.
Free safety Derron Smith returned an interception for a score in the second quarter. Nose guard Tyeler Davison recovered a fumble by quarterback Cody Fajardo in the end zone in the third quarter, which was forced by outside linebacker Donavon Lewis. Inside linebacker Travis Brown had a forced fumble and a 26-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Nevada has been a little better with the ball this season.
The Wolf Pack has turned over the football only 10 times (one fumble, nine interceptions), which is the fewest in the Mountain West Conference and tied for 10th fewest in the nation.
Running back Don Jackson (179), Fajardo (129) and running back James Butler (114) have 422 combined carries without losing a fumble.
• Bulldogs tight end Chad Olsen is the first true freshman receiver or tight end to catch four touchdown passes going back through 2000. He is tied with Marcel Jensen (2012), Bear Pascoe (2008 and '07) and Alec Greco (2000) for most touchdown receptions by a tight end.
• Nevada has ruled out backup strong safety Tere' Calloway, who will miss the game with a left shoulder injury. The Wolf Pack also will be without receiver Hasaan Henderson, who is third on the team with 45 receptions, including four touchdowns. Henderson was carted off the field last week in a loss at Air Force with potential head and neck injuries. He has been up and walking this week, according to a report in the Reno Gazette-Journal.