Fresno State Football

Fresno State vs. Sacramento State preview: Do the FCS Hornets really have a chance?

The Fresno State Bulldogs are 9-0 against FCS opponents since 2010, winning those games by an average of 32.2 points.

But is that a harbinger, or just history?

Sacramento State is 2-1 with blowout victories over NAIA Southern Oregon (77-19) and FCS Northern Colorado (50-0) and a close loss at Arizona State (19-7), and coach Troy Taylor could have the Hornets in the beginning stages of a Jeff Tedford-like turnaround.

The former Cal quarterback and assistant coach took over a program that was just 2-8 and 0-7 in the Big Sky Conference a year ago. That’s not 1-11 like Fresno State before Tedford arrived, but close enough for the imagination to wander.

Three games into the Taylor era, the Hornets are ranked in the top 10 in the FCS in scoring offense (third, 44.7 points per game), scoring defense (fifth, 12.7 ppg) and total offense (tie second, 534.7 yards per game) and 14th in total defense (305.7 ypg).

Are they a threat to a Fresno State team that has close losses at USC and to Minnesota, Power Five conference programs? A look into those results would suggest this game at least could be more competitive than the nine that came before it …

That average margin of victory by Fresno State has been inflated significantly the past two years with the Bulldogs drilling Incarnate Word 66-0 and Idaho 79-13.

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Fresno State quarterback Jorge Reyna, center, passes against Minnesota Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 in Fresno. Reyna completed 24 of 35 passes for 288 yards with three touchdowns, but had a pass intercepted in overtime that sealed the Bulldogs’ 38-35 loss to the Golden Gophers. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

The Bulldogs clearly have fattened up on a lot of poor FCS opponents – only one of the past seven have finished a season within three games of the .500 mark …

2018 – Idaho (79-13) finished 4-7

2017 – Incarnate Word (66-0) 1-10

2016 – Sacramento State (31-3) 2-9

2015 – Abilene Christian (34-13) 3-8

2014 – Southern Utah (56-16) 3-9

2013 – Cal Poly (41-25) 6-6

2012 – Weber State (37-10) 2-9

2011 – North Dakota (27-22) 8-3

2010– Cal Poly (38-17) 7-4

The details: How to watch, in person and more

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Bulldog Stadium

TV: Facebook powered by Stadium (Ari Wolfe, David Carr and Dani Klupenger)

Radio: 940AM/ESPN (Paul Loeffler, Pat Hill and Cameron Worrell)

Series: Bulldogs lead 3-0

Past meetings:

  • 2016 – Bulldogs 31-3
  • 2007 Bulldogs 24-3
  • 1972 – Bulldogs 24-7

Vegas line: Bulldogs -21

Weather: high 80s and sunny with an evening low of 59 degrees

Tickets: gobulldogs.com/559-278-DOGS (3647) or any ticket-resale site. Single-game tickets start at $27. Go to the Fresno State website for details about promotions and pregame and in-game activities.

Records: Bulldogs 0-2, Hornets 2-1

That’s a solid number

Fresno State this season sold 17,876 season tickets, a 7% increase over last season and the third year in a row sales have trended up. The Bulldogs’ season tickets the past five seasons …

2018 – 16,717

2017 – 15,692

2016 – 15,404

2015 – 18,432

2014 – 25,082

Where to park?

Attendance could get a boost from Hornets fans making the drive down Highway 99, but it also could take a self-inflicted hit. The Save Mart Center is hosting a concert by Post Malone on Saturday that is scheduled to start at 8 p.m., an hour after kickoff for the football game.

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Post Malone performs on Day 3 of the 2019 Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands on Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Dover, Del. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP) Owen Sweeney Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP

For Bulldogs fans who park in the Green Lot adjacent to the Save Mart Center there will be no changes outside of increased traffic, according to an athletics department official.

Doors open for the concert at 7 p.m.

Tailgating

‘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.

The last time …

Fresno State won just one game in 2016, beating Sacramento State 31-3 in its home opener.

The Bulldogs went into the fourth quarter leading just 10-3 before scoring on three consecutive possessions including two touchdown passes from Chason Virgil to KeeSean Johnson.

The Hornets did not run a single play on the Bulldogs’ side of the field in the second half, starting drives at their own 41, 3, 6, 15, 15 and 25 yard lines, and had only three snaps in Fresno State territory the entire game.

Sacramento State gained possession in the first quarter on an interception at the Fresno State 47. It rushed the ball on first down for no gain, then turned it right back to the Bulldogs with an interception. Then, just before halftime, the Hornets gained possession at the Bulldogs 27-yard line when a punt inadvertently hit a Fresno State player. Sacramento State recovered the fumble and on first down and with just six seconds remaining in the half kicked a field goal.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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