Players of the game
Grant Hedrick: Boise State quarterback again is a dual threat, passing for 155 yards and rushing for 81 more, two TDs.
Josh Harper: Fresno State’s standout senior receiver finishes the night with a game-high 10 receptions for 131 yards.
Tanner Vallejo: Boise State linebacker records 13 total tackles, also returns an interception for a touchdown.
Play of the game
First quarter, 1:56 remaining: Fresno State had been doing OK early on converting third downs, but not on this play. Facing third-and-14 from the 49, Brian Burrell dropped back and floated a pass down the middle. The intended receiver might as well have been Broncos linebacker Tanner Vallejo, who made a leaping interception and returned it 63 yards for a TD and a 14-0 Boise State lead.
Numbers of the game
0: Fresno State wins on the blue turf against Boise State. The Bulldogs moved to 1-8 overall against the Broncos in Boise, the lone win in 1984 — two years before Boise State installed its signature blue field.
3: Fresno State’s longest winning streak this season, which ended with Saturday’s loss.
19: Boise State’s average margin of victory during its eight-game winning streak while outscoring opponents 382-228.
3.25: As in millions of dollars. What Boise State will receive for landing in a New Year’s Six Bowl, likely the FiestaThat includes Boise State’s travel expenses.
19:Consecutive losses forFresno State to ranked opponents, including losses to USC and Nebraska during the 2014 regular season. The Bulldogs’ last win against a ranked foe remains in 2004 against No. 18 Virginia in the MPC Computers Bowl.
23.5: Point spread that favored Boise State just before kickoff Saturday night. Fresno State, which lost the regular-season meeting 37-27, had opened as a 17-point underdog.
Bowl date, tbd: Despite a losing record, Fresno State (6-7) still will get to play in a bowl thanks to a recently approved Mountain West ammendent that guaranteed a postseason bid to conference divisional winners (as long they gained bowl eligibility entering the conference championship).
Saturday night’s outcome might have had little effect. Ideally, Fresno State would like to play in the Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 23 in San Diego, so the game is within driving distance of the central San Joaquin Valley. Navy has been lined up as the other team.
However, Thompson indicated that hometown school San Diego State was the favorite to land the other Poinsettia slot, even if the Bulldogs had beaten Boise State. That likely will leave a Hawaii Bowl bid to Fresno State, where it would face a Conference USA team, or perhaps a trip to the New Orleans against a Sun Belt school.
The Bulldogs played in the Hawaii Bowl in 2012, losing 43-10 to SMU. Fresno State has not won a bowl game since the 2007 Humanitarian against Georgia Tech.
The MW also has tie-ins with the Las Vegas, Idaho Potato and New Mexico bowls. Las Vegas gets first pick and is expected to choose Colorado State or Utah State with Boise State likely headed to the Fiesta Bowl. The Bulldogs have already visited a couple of those bowl sites, including Boise twice and Albuquerque, N.M.
The decisions over who goes where is a collaborative effort between ESPN, bowl committees and the conference. The cable sports giant owns every bowl with MW tie-ins except the Poinsettia.Jim Bartko
Bartko caught a flight from San Jose early Saturday morning and arrived in Boise about noon.
“I’m not sure there have been many ADs who have a chance to be in two places back to back,” Bartko said.
Bartko said plans to spend the rest of the month going back and forth from Fresno to Oregon, where he served as executive senior associate athletic director. He officially takes over at Fresno State on Jan. 1.
Just like in Fresno last year, it rained Saturday morning in Boise before giving way to partly cloudy skies.
On the first play from scrimmage and facing first-and-15 because of a penalty, Fresno State ran a reverse pass with receiver and former quarterback Greg Watson throwing the ball down field.
Watson floated the ball a bit too much and a little behind top wide receiver Josh Harper, who was open on the play, and it led to an incompletion.
On their second drive, the Bulldogs lined up with all five of their offensive linemen split about 3-4 yards from each other in a true “spread” formation. Quarterback Brian Burrell tried to run up the middle, but the Broncos tackled him for a 1-yard gain.
The Broncos inserted seven offensive linemen near the goal line, with two in the backfield before they motioned to the line essentially as beefy tight ends.
Fresno State quickly called a timeout. Two plays later, Boise State tried it again but took a 1-yard loss.
But rather than sprint upfield, Harper veered to his left and eventually was tackled at the 13. The Bulldogs had to settle for a 35-yard field goal attempt, and Kody Kroening‘s kick was blocked.