David White

Hey, you look familiar. Aren’t you the Fresno State football program? Welcome back!

Fresno State is enjoying an unexpectedly fast resurgence in its first season under new coach Jeff Tedford.
Fresno State is enjoying an unexpectedly fast resurgence in its first season under new coach Jeff Tedford. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Are you having fun yet?

Your Fresno State Bulldogs are back in the college football bowling business. A third straight losing season has been abated, thanks to six victories with three to play. A 20-13 victory over Brigham Young saw to all of that Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium.

Does this look at all familiar yet?

They throw the ball like in the Jim Sweeney days, with quarterback Marcus McMaryion throwing deep spirals somewhere over the rainbow.

They run the ball like in the Pat Hill days, mashing the running back firm of Rivers, Mims and Hokit between the hashes as if they’ve got a game clock to brutally kill.

They ran the swinging gate on an extra-point kick, a shout-out to former special teams maniac John Baxter.

They even play defense like in the Tim DeRuyter days, and we mean the former when they won and not the latter when they didn’t.

When new coach Jeff Tedford vowed to bring back Bulldogs football, we had no idea the Fresno State alum meant schematically as much as traditionally.

It’s as if Tedford has taken four decades of Fresno State football and compacted it all together into a living, tackling flashback machine. You know what? That works for us.

Wasn’t it nice to see the Bulldogs stick it in the eye of BYU, just for old time’s sake? You still remember when this was an unholy rivalry in the ’90s, before the Cougars left your alma mater behind in the great Western Athletic Conference split.

Isn’t it a relief to watch Fresno State not humiliate itself in front of a national ESPN2 television audience, and in a prime-time Saturday night slot, no less? The past year, you needed a TV Guide, Alps expedition team and a blue-tick bloodhound to track down the Bulldogs on the TV dial.

Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion has come home (he’s from Dinuba and a graduate transfer from Oregon State) to help the Bulldogs regain respectability. CRAIG KOHLRUSS ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

You’ve got to love seeing a Dinuba kid handing the ball off to a Clovis wrestler, who usually blocks for the son of a Fresno State great. How can you not dig seeing Kevin Sweeney’s retired No. 9 jersey back in commission? That would be Mr. Jeffrey Allison with the game-saving turnover late in the fourth quarter.

Fresno State isn’t great: last week’s loss to UNLV made that case beyond reason’s doubt. But, the Bulldogs aren’t half bad, either. Given last year’s 1-11 ode to program immolation, this is the best thing going, and it comes at a year ahead of anticipated schedule, no less.

Admit it: you’re back to complaining that all those wide receiver screens are too predictable, and that the offense gets too conservative. This time a year ago, this team wasn’t worth the time to fill out the complaint form at the office.

So go ahead and wish Tedford would call 192 pass plays a game, and then accuse of him of not managing the game clock. Graduate from being happy to just win a flippin’ game to the talk-show angst of not winning by enough points.

Just don’t forget where this team was this time last year. Realize that no one in college football gets to be perfect except Alabama, while everyone else gets their dreams crushed by unranked teams from the state of Iowa.

Maybe then you’ll remember to smile and enjoy this unexpected return to common decency.

Three-point stance

1. Turn off the network news and go watch the football communities of Strathmore and Lindsay all stand for the anthem, hands over hearts, before Friday’s rivalry game. This wasn’t white America. This was in a stadium full of Hispanics, standing up for a country that hasn’t been on their side of the immigration argument in three presidential terms. How’s that for goosebumps?

2. Only the 49ers can trade for an unproven quarterback who has accomplished nothing more regal than holding Tom Brady’s beer, and act like they’ve won something. As far as smoke screens for an 0-8 season go, they’ll have to do better than quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

3. Speaking of the Dodgers not winning a championship for 29 years running, Clayton Kershaw is to Madison Bumgarner what Dan Marino is to Joe Montana. Kershaw and Marino can have all the regular-season records they want; Bumgarner and Montana deal in the currency of rings.

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