Fresno State Football

A Power Five divide puts the spotlight on the Bulldogs, every one of them

No Power Five divide

Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford discusses the challenges of playing on the road this week at Minnesota, a physical Big Ten team. The Bulldogs have lost their past nine games against Power Five conference opponents, losing by 33.4 points per game.
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Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford discusses the challenges of playing on the road this week at Minnesota, a physical Big Ten team. The Bulldogs have lost their past nine games against Power Five conference opponents, losing by 33.4 points per game.

Fresno State is 1-0 after drilling Idaho in its opener 79-13, which doesn’t mean much with the Bulldogs headed this week to Minnesota in what is viewed as a winnable matchup against a Power Five conference opponent.

They are a 2-point underdog and given the Bulldogs history against Power Five opponents that puts them all in the spotlight, the starters down to the scout team.

Fresno ST Alabama Football (2)
Fresno State wide receiver Derrion Grim is lifted up by Fresno State center Aaron Mitchell after scoring a touchdown last season at Alabama. The Bulldogs after opening the season with a 79-13 rout of Idaho get their first challenge of the season at Minnesota on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Brynn Anderson ASSOCIATED PRESS

Coach Jeff Tedford has a mountain of evidence in front of him, from the program that he inherited and from across the Group of Five conferences, not only this season, but last season and the season before that.

There is a significant divide there, between the Group of Five and the Power Five.

The opening week of college football, the record was 1-19.

Tedford doesn’t care.

“I don’t really look at it as an issue,” he said, when the subject was first broached last spring. “I don’t even think about that, to tell you the truth, how we can overcome it or whatever.

“I never go into anything looking at a Power Five or a Group of Five or whatever the things are. I think we have enough good players here to compete with anybody that we play. I think we have the mindset to do that.”

But until the Bulldogs break through and beat a Power Five opponent, it will always be a question. How has that mindset changed, and is it to a point they can take down a middling Power Five program? This appears to be their chance, taking on a Minnesota team that will be playing a true freshman quarterback.

Fresno St Washington Football
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion fires a pass in a loss at Washington Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Seattle. The Bulldogs’ have averaged just 17.8 points in their past nine games against Power Five opponents. Elaine Thompson ASSOCIATED PRESS

Since beating Colorado in2012, Fresno State is 0-9 against the Power Five and has allowed 40 or more points in every loss. The average margin: 33.4 points.

To the plus side, Fresno State once it got settled in the second half at Washington last season played well defensively, limiting the Huskies to 153 total yards and seven points. Washington had its starting offensive line in through the third quarter of that game, as well. From there, there were other markers that as the confidence grew so, too,did the Bulldogs’ ability to successfully slug away at a Power Five opponent.

Fresno State dominated San Diego State in a 27-3 victory on the road, and the Aztecs had won at Arizona State and beat Stanford. It split games with Boise State, for years one of the top Group of Five programs, winning 28-17 at the end of the regular season and losing 17-14 in the conference title game. It beat Houston in the Hawaii Bowl 33-27, and the Cougars had opened the season with a win at Arizona and went on the road to beat a ranked South Florida team in conference play.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

Get ready for Minnesota

Fresno State at Minnesota, 4:30 p.m. Pacific Saturday. TV: FS1 (find a channel guide here)

Each Fresno State football game week Robert Kuwada will report on keys to the game:

Spotlight

3 things to watch

Need to know

That’s trouble (Something the opponent does that could play well against Fresno State)

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