Fresno State

Bulldogs add to accolades in championship football season with final ranking

Before strong Red Wave presence, Fresno State makes history with Las Vegas Bowl win

Fresno State defeats Arizona State 31-20 to win the Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl championship. The Bulldogs won their 12th game, the most ever in program history.
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Fresno State defeats Arizona State 31-20 to win the Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl championship. The Bulldogs won their 12th game, the most ever in program history.

Fresno State ended its first 12-win season with a Mountain West Conference championship, a Las Vegas Bowl victory and Monday night at No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25, the highest year-end ranking in school history.

Fresno State had finished in the final AP Top 25 just twice before this season, coming in at No. 22 in 2004 under coach Pat Hill and at No. 24 in 1992 under coach Jim Sweeney.

The Bulldogs also came in at No. 18 in the Coaches Poll, moving up three spots following their Las Vegas Bowl victory over Arizona State.

“That ranking is just truly a blessing,” said offensive lineman Micah St. Andrew, who came to Fresno State as a walk-on and ended up earning a scholarship and starting 43 consecutive games at right guard or center.

“It just shows all our hard work paid off. It’s a great ending to a great season. I’m just glad it was my senior season and we could bring it around. All the hours we put in throughout the season and before the season. It all starts in the spring time, the winter time. Right when the season ends, you’re right back at it again. It’s a great feeling. It’s awesome.”

Fresno State had its highest ranking in the AP poll at any point in a season in 2001 when No. 8 for two weeks.

It was unranked at the start of that season, entering the poll at No. 19 after opening the season with victories at Colorado and over No. 10 Oregon State. Fresno State moved up to No. 11 the following week after a victory at No. 23 Wisconsin, to No. 10 after a win at Tulsa and then to No. 8 after a victory over Louisiana Tech.

Fresno State scored a touchdown on a third-down play in overtime to beat Boise State 19-16 and win the Mountain West football championship on Dec. 1, 2018, at Albertsons Stadium.

The Bulldogs were at No. 8 for two weeks, dropping to No. 18 after a 35-30 loss to Boise State snapped a six-game winning streak to start the season. A loss to Hawaii the following week knocked them out of the Top 25, and they were out of the poll for three weeks. The Bulldogs made it back the final three weeks of the season but finished unranked, though 11-3, after a 44-35 loss to Michigan State in the Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose.

Clemson (15-0) is No. 1 after drilling Alabama (14-1) in the College Football Playoff championship game 44-16.

Central Florida (12-1) is the top-ranked Group of Five conference team, coming in at No. 11. Army (11-2) is one spot behind Fresno State at No. 19. Utah State (11-2) and Boise State (10-3) from the Mountain West are No. 22 and No. 23 and Cincinnati (11-2) is No. 24.

The Bulldogs this season also started the season unranked, hitting the Top 25 for the first time at No. 20 after a 50-20 victory over Hawaii.

Fresno State defeats Arizona State 31-20 to win the Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl championship. The Bulldogs won their 12th game, the most ever in program history.

They got to No. 16 after a 48-3 win at UNLV, dropped out for two weeks following a loss at Boise State and were at No. 25 going into the Mountain West Conference championship game against the Broncos.

They went to Boise State as the only team in FBS history to go from double-digit losses (1-11 in 2016) to double-digit wins in back to back seasons and beat the Broncos 19-16 in overtime to get to 11-2.

The victory over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl got them to 12-2.

“We’ve been through a lot, had a lot of ups and downs,” St. Andrew said. “It was all worth it, finishing up the season like we did. Playing with my brothers on the team, there’s not much to say except for I’m going to hold on and cherish the memories that I’ve made here and the relationships that I’ve built here.

“All the credit goes to our coaches and our team, the training staff and everyone involved. Everybody. We played for each other and it has just truly been a blessing. It’s just awesome.”

tedford file
Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford has led the Bulldogs to 10-4 and 12-2 seasons with one Mountain West Conference championship and bowl victories over Houston in the 2017 Hawaii Bowl and Arizona State this season in the Las Vegas Bowl. CRAIG KOHLRUSS Fresno Bee file

Associated Press poll

1, Clemson (15-0) 1,525 points

2, Alabama (14-1) 1,462

3, Ohio State (13-1) 1,364

4, Oklahoma (12-2) 1,356

5, Notre Dame (12-1) 1,286

6, LSU (10-3) 1,119

7, Florida (10-3) 1,103

7t, Georgia (11-3) 1,103

9, Texas (10-4) 1,076

10, Washington State (11-2) 959

11, UCF (12-1) 898

12, Kentucky (10-3) 820

13, Washington (10-4) 806

14, Michigan (10-3) 745

15, Syracuse (10-3) 683

16, Texas A&M (9-4) 552

17, Penn State (9-4) 492

18, Fresno State (12-2) 466

19, Army (11-2) 418

20, West Virginia (8-4) 296

21, Northwestern (9-5) 284

22, Utah State (11-2) 188

23, Boise State (10-3) 184

24, Cincinnati (11-2) 171

25, Iowa (9-4) 120

Coaches poll

1, Clemson (15-0) 1,575 points

2, Alabama (14-1) 1,512

3, Ohio State (13-1) 1,416

4, Oklahoma (12-2) 1,392

5, Notre Dame (12-1) 1,294

6, Florida (10-3) 1,177

7, LSU (10-3) 1,170

8, Georgia (11-3) 1,127

9, Texas (10-4) 1,082

10, Washington State (11-2) 994

11, Kentucky (10-3) 931

12, UCF (12-1) 857

13, Washington (10-4) 790

14, Michigan (10-3) 762

15, Syracuse (10-3) 710

16, Texas A&M (9-4) 616

17, Penn State (9-4) 569

18, Fresno State (12-2) 489

19, Northwestern (9-5) 370

20, Army (11-2) 331

21, Utah State (11-2) 248

22, West Virginia (8-4) 228

23, Cincinnati (11-2) 186

24, Boise State (10-3) 164

25, Iowa (9-4) 102

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

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