Fresno State Football

Home no help: Fresno State blown out again as Nebraska rolls 55-19

So long, homefield mojo.

It's going to take much, much more than that to pull Fresno State out of this funk.

Fresno State (0-3) was blown out for the third straight time to start the season, suffering the same issues on offense and defense that have plagued the Bulldogs as Nebraska cruised to a 55-19 victory Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 41,031 at Bulldog Stadium.

It was the first loss at home during coach Tim DeRuyter's two-plus seasons and snapped a 13-game home winning streak.

"I'm not used to starting 0-3 like this and struggle as a defense -- it's definitely different," senior safety Derron Smith said. "But we've just got to pull through it, stick together. That's the only way we're going to get through it."

Fresno State has lost its first three games for the first time since 1998 and 10th time in school history.

Such a start has led to a losing record by season's end each time except 1957 and 1958 when Fresno State managed to even its record at 5-5.

By the end of the Cornhuskers' first two drives, the Bulldogs' problems had been exposed again.

Fresno State gave up a 70-yard touchdown pass on third down to open scoring.

On the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs went three-and-out.

WARSZAWSKI: Little chance of seeing the likes of Nebraska in future Fresno State schedules

Brian Burrell played the entire game at quarterback after Brandon Connette was ruled out with a hand injury that limited him during practice the past week. DeRuyter said he expects Connette to be healthy to play the next game against Southern Utah.

Quarterback play, though, was only the tip of the iceberg for the Bulldogs.

As if the battle for worst unit wasn't already heated between the offense and defense, Fresno State's special teams got into the mix by allowing two long punt returns.

One went for an 86-yard touchdown by De'Mornay Pierson-El. Another return by Pierson-El went for 51 yards, which set up a Nebraska field goal. A couple of punts earlier, Garrett Swanson shanked a kick for just 9 yards. But at least that punt went out of bounds and couldn't be returned.

All the energy and excitement surrounding Fresno State's sellout home opener vanished by the end of the first quarter as the Bulldogs trailed 14-2.

LIVE BLOG REPLAY: Nebraska 55, Fresno State 19

Fresno State's offense still hasn't scored in the first quarter this season, as the only points the Bulldogs generated in the opening quarter were credited to special teams after Nebraska's David Santos batted a punted ball through the back of the end zone for a safety.

"I don't know," Burrell said when asked what's been the reason for Fresno State's struggles in the first quarter. "We're trying to figure it out as a team."

By halftime, Fresno State trailed 27-5, which, based solely on scoring margin, goes down as the Bulldogs' most successful first half this season. Fresno State trailed 31-7 at the half in its first two games against USC and Utah.

Burrell started for the third straight game. And though he looked better at times, he also had stretches of looking panicked and unsure of his reads.

RELATED: Brian Burrell gets full QB duty with Brandon Connette injured

He often got flushed out of the pocket and threw out of bounds or threw off his back foot for incompletions. The junior completed 30 of 59 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown. Burrell was not intercepted but got sacked four times.

The receivers had a handful of critical drops, too, though Burrell threw high and wide to his targets. The running game didn't do much, either, though Burrell broke loose for a 66-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter that reduced the deficit to 34-12.

The Cornhuskers, though, immediately answered with a 62-yard touchdown run by reserve running back Imani Cross.

"We've got to regroup from here," DeRuyter said. "I reminded our team: As badly as we feel right now, our major goals are ahead of us and that's to win the Mountain West Conference and make Bulldog Stadium our stadium and protect it. Those things are still out ahead of us."

Related stories from Fresno Bee

  Comments