Fresno State outscored, outplayed, out everything'ed a fellow mid-major football program in a critical college football matchup Saturday.
While the 15th-ranked Bulldogs were at it, they also thumped visiting New Mexico 69-28 at Bulldog Stadium, where the no-vacancy sign hung outside the gates for the third time this season.
What, you thought the Lobos were the only team Fresno State went up against this week? Please, New Mexico was the least of its problems.
The Bulldogs had to beat No. 16 Northern Illinois in the court of voter's opinion, and did so decisively on a national ESPN telecast, for all the ballot punchers to see. That was the real challenge of the week, because it sure wasn't the visiting Lobos with their backup quarterback and second-string running back.
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Get used to the political game away from the real game, because this is how it's going to be if the Bulldogs are going to stay in front of the Huskies in the Bowl Championship Series standings from here on out.
Anything Northern Illinois can do, Fresno State must do better -- because only one non-BCS team gets to crash the BCS bowl party, and this two-horse race has gotten nose-hair thin.
While Fresno State was taking last weekend off, the Huskies sliced into the Bulldogs' lead in the BCS standings. On Thursday, Northern Illinois swung first with a 35-17 victory at Toledo.
If Fresno State would have responded with a tepid victory, one of those first-half nail biters that only becomes a blowout after the fact ... well, that's how mid-majors go flip for flop in the polls and standings. That's why the Bulldogs aren't in the top 12 yet.
The Bulldogs had to come out and do more than win by 18 like Northern Illinois. They had to do what top-20 teams are supposed to do, and that's beat the chest phlegm out of a Mountain West Conference nobody, giving no quarter to any team that asks for quarter.
Sixty-nine points later, advantage Fresno State. For a week.
"If we made a statement today, I'm all for it," said Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr, a school-record seven touchdown passes later.
And: "I think the sky's the limit. If we give all our heart and full effort into it and still fall short, we're not going to be mad."
The key, then, is to go all out and leave their heart valves on the floor, just to make sure they don't go 12-0 and still fall short of the first BCS bowl in program history. One reason Fresno State is only No. 15 in the BCS standings, moving up at the speed of crawl, is because it lets too many weak and blinds of the schedule keep the score down on the ESPN scroll. Hawaii came back from how far? San Diego State took them into overtime?
Voters want to see the Bulldogs win by half-a-hundred. When the Bulldogs instead squeak out victories at Hawaii and San Diego State, and barely win at home against the average likes of Rutgers and Boise State, it's no wonder Northern Illinois hasn't jumped them in the BCS standings by now.
Fresno State should have been 69-28'ing teams since Cal Poly in Week 2. The good news is there's still yet time to out-blowout the Huskies: win huge at San Jose State on Friday, and it won't matter what the final score in the Mountain West Conference title game ends up being -- the Bulldogs will be all but assured a BCS standing ahead of Northern Illinois.
That's the advantage of getting a head start in the polls back in September. It's the only way the Bulldogs will remain up front.
They showed Saturday they know how to throttle the lessers from start to finish. Time to keep throttling.