Like Red Wave fans throughout the Valley, we will be cheering on the Fresno State Bulldog football team Saturday when it plays for the Mountain West championship.
The Bulldogs have to travel to Idaho to meet the Broncos of Boise State — Fresno State’s nemesis in the conference. It will be a moment of deja vu — the Bulldogs had to travel to Boise State last year for the championship game, only to lose after having beaten the Broncos during the regular season.
No matter what happens, the Bulldogs have already made the Valley proud. This year’s team has done a superb job of representing Fresno State, and the program is once again on solid footing after an abysmal 2016 season.
The 27 seniors on the squad remember that year, when the Bulldogs went 1-11. The lone win was against Sacramento State, which plays in a lower division in the collegiate ranks.
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Enter new coach Jeff Tedford, himself a former Bulldog and once the coach of Cal. He and his assistant coaches engineered a remarkable turnaround in 2017, with the squad going 10-4 and beating Houston in the Hawaii Bowl.
This year’s team is 10-2 overall, 7-1 in Mountain West play. Among its victories was the 38-14 blowout of UCLA in the Rose Bowl in September. The Bulldogs are again bowl eligible.
Last year’s team took opponents by surprise, given the horrible record of the previous campaign. Tedford said this season there has been a target on his team, with opponents getting up to play their best against the Bulldogs.
What has led to the success is the Valley’s own recipe for winning: The Bulldogs have worked hard, paid attention to details, and stayed true to the goal of getting to the Mountain West championship.
It also helps to have a defense that is one of the best in the nation. And to have the steady leadership of senior quarterback Marcus McMaryion of Dinuba, who came back home in 2017 to play at Fresno State after several years at Oregon State.
Saturday’s game will be shown nationally on ESPN starting at 4:45 p.m. The Bulldogs will face a Boise State team that is also 10-2 and 7-1. Action will occur on Boise State’s famed blue field and before its frenzied fans.
But our Bulldogs are battle tested and ready. Here’s hoping they can beat the Broncos and go out on top. Go Bulldogs!