Coach Tedford assesses Bulldogs’ performance against USC, looks forward to Minnesota
Fresno State is expecting a crowd in the mid-30,000 range for its home opener on Saturday night against Minnesota, which would be a solid bump from a year ago when only 31,170 took in a 79-13 rout of FCS Idaho.
Season-ticket sales are trending up. Interest in the Bulldogs is, as well, finally, after 22 wins and a Mountain West Conference championship the past two seasons.
But the big-money question is will they hit the daily double, adding badly needed revenue through single-game ticket sales as they did in 2013 when also coming off a Mountain West Conference championship season?
“That’s what we’re hoping. That’s what we need,” athletics director Terry Tumey said. “We need our fans to come out and be really supportive and make a difference with a home-field advantage. We need that, desperately. We feel with us really trying to engage more with our community and being proactive, we’re hoping that translates into replacing what we saw in 2013.”
Led by quarterback Derek Carr and a trio of 1,000-yard wideouts in Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper back in 2013, the Bulldogs played in front of three sellout crowds at Bulldog Stadium on their way to capturing a second consecutive Mountain West title.
It didn’t happen right out of the gate – the Bulldogs had only 33,098 for the 2013 home opener against Rutgers. But it did happen, eventually.
Boise State win was a boost
“We went into the Boise State game undefeated and it was a Friday night,” said Russell Hayden, director of ticket operations. “We ended up selling that game out and that’s where all the momentum started.
“We did almost 93,000 single-game tickets that year – that includes everything, comps and trades and all that good stuff. But, still, that’s a very large number. We were averaging 15,000-plus single-game tickets, which is very strong.”
The athletics department raked in an additional $1.2 million in ticket revenue in 2013, due largely to the success with single-game sales.
In 2019, obviously, there is room for growth. Bulldog Stadium capacity is 40,727, down slightly from the 41,031 of 2013.
“We have seen an uptick in our season tickets this past year, which is against what the national trend is,” Tumey said. “If we can also double down and have a real uptick in terms of the walk-up crowd, people coming for a single or two, hopefully that translates into even a stronger showing throughout the season and for the years to come. That’s what we’re hoping.”
The details: How to watch on TV, in person and more
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Bulldog Stadium, 40,727
TV: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz, Aaron Murray and John Schriffen) channel 221 on DirecTV, 418/732 on Comcast in the Fresno market, 643/1643 on AT&T Uverse and 158 on Dish
Radio: 940AM/ESPN (Paul Loeffler, Pat Hill and Cameron Worrell)
Series: Minnesota leads 1-0
Vegas line: Minnesota by 3
Weather: mid-90s and sunny with an evening low of 61 degrees
Records: Fresno State 0-1 with 31-23 loss at USC; Minnesota 1-0 with 28-21 victory over FCS South Dakota State.
Keys to the game
Fresno State looks to avenge a tough loss to the Golden Gophers a year ago on the road.
The Bulldogs lost 21-14, but had a chance to tie the score late in the fourth quarter when a trick play went awry. On first down from the Minnesota 4-yard line, running back Josh Hokit took a handoff from quarterback Marcus McMaryion and tried to hit tight end Jared Rice, who was open in the back of the end zone.
Hokit didn’t get enough on the pass, the football hanging in the air long enough for safety Antoine Winfield Jr. to race back into the play and make an interception.
The play call was debated at length, but there were plenty of plays that came before it that were not executed at a very high level.
The outcome didn’t stall Fresno State, which averaged 38.7 points in winning its next seven games.
The Bulldogs and Golden Gophers could slug it out again on Saturday with both teams needing to generate more production from their running games.
Fresno State’s leading rusher in a 31-23 loss at USC last week was quarterback Jorge Reyna, who gained 88 yards. Junior Ronnie Rivers was the only running back to carry the football, gaining 53 yards on 14 plays, 3.8 yards per pop.
Minnesota rushed for just 132 yards on 42 plays in its victory over FCS South Dakota State, averaging 3.1 yards per play. The Golden Gophers rank 11th of 14 in the Big Ten in yards per rush, but the three teams behind them all played FBS opponents.
Fresno State will open its parking lots six hours before kickoff for tailgating this season and vehicles may stay in the lots up to two hours following the game.
Here are the rules …
- Alcohol cannot be consumed in the green parking lots.
- Glass containers and charcoal fires are prohibited.
- Tobacco products are prohibited
- Tailgaters are responsible for cleaning up all trash within their tailgating area.
- Stakes are not allowed to be used for securing tents. Weights or water barrels can be used.
- Alcohol may not be sold in any manner.
- Charcoal fires are not permitted in the tailgate or parking areas.