David White

Fresno State football fans know dread, just usually not this early

Can the 2016 edition of the Fresno State team avoid in Nebraska the same fate that befell quarterback Jeff Grady and the rest of the Bulldogs in 2003 at Oklahoma? Fresno State piled up nearly twice as many first-half penalty yards (80) as offensive yards (43) in falling behind 38-0 en route to a 52-28 defeat.
Can the 2016 edition of the Fresno State team avoid in Nebraska the same fate that befell quarterback Jeff Grady and the rest of the Bulldogs in 2003 at Oklahoma? Fresno State piled up nearly twice as many first-half penalty yards (80) as offensive yards (43) in falling behind 38-0 en route to a 52-28 defeat. GETTY IMAGES

Are you ready for some Fresno State football?

We didn’t think so.

Maybe you’re not familiar with that feeling in the pit of your innards, at least not at this summertime of the year.

It’s called dread.

It’s how you feel during game week against Boise State, but that sinking feeling usually never comes until the leaves turn.

Fresno State doesn’t do dread in August, not when it comes to its ticket-based clientele. This is the most delusional time of the year, when even San Jose State thinks it has a chance — a chance at what, we know not, but a chance at something.

Fresno State vs. Nebraska? Does this case even have to go trial?

We don’t root against Fresno State. It’s the only show in town. We only go to Grizzlies games for the tacos and social hour, not because of a deep-rooted interest in the next middle reliever for the Houston Astros. The problem with high school sports is it’s only sporting when it’s your high school.

When the Bulldogs win, the boss thinks this weekly column is worth printing, which means the checks keep clearing, which means Repo Rick leaves the family car in the driveway at night. When the Bulldogs win, we get to smile at the notion we went to university there.

When the football team wins but five games, and those on the merit of there being four conference mates with the audacity to be even worse at playing 11-on-11 … how many ways can we poke Fresno State football in the kidneys before it’s not a story?

What’s the word we’re looking for again?

Dread.

Every year, Fresno State takes on some upper-management type at the big kid’s table. Wisconsin. Ohio State. Louisiana State. USC. Oregon. Tennessee.

No one expected it to win half these games, but sweet mother of Pat Hill, didn’t you think it at least had a chance? Oh sure, you had to chug some serious cough medicine to think the Bulldogs would hold Auburn under half a hundred, but you could dream before the state trooper noted your Breathalyzer results, right?

No one thought the Bulldogs would beat Oklahoma, but didn’t you think it was cool to play the top-ranked team in the nation? If you can beat Oregon State when it was the pretend No. 1 team in the land, why not the Sooners? (A score of 52-28 is why not, but we all know who won the second half.)

These games aren’t cool anymore, not since coach Tim DeRuyter had to ride his bicycle without using Derek Carr’s hands. And, it isn’t the least bit fun. You know this game has all the suspense of a fruit fly taking on a windshield, with the windshield getting a 70-mph head of steam.

We’re not afraid the Bulldogs are going to lose to a Nebraska team, a team which is no longer as Nebraska as its top-dollar name would indicate.

Our fear is the medical staff is going to run out of splints and IVs before halftime. What’s the point of a big-game check if you use it all on medical deductibles?

Therein is the real finger to the eye. Fresno State has all the depth of a penciled line on a sheet of paper. It won’t take many season-ending injuries to end what passes for the 2016 season.

If freshman quarterback Chason Virgil breaks again, the Bulldogs are doomed. If a starting offensive lineman cracks, they’re doomed. If a cornerback snaps, they’re doomed.

May Fresno State live to tell the tale after Saturday’s trip to Nebraska, or we have no idea what we’re gong to write until basketball season.

The columnist can be reached at bydw@sbcglobal.net and on Twitter @bydavidwhite.

Three-point stance

1. We see that 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the national anthem the other day, his way of staging a protest that wasn’t much of a protest since no one knew he had been protesting until now. We just thought he was practicing at what he’ll be doing all season – sitting on a bench.

2. Before the Dodgers get too excited about leading the National League West … in August – a reminder that you won the division two years ago, and we all know who won that World Series. You might want to put off that Labor Day weekend parade you had in the works.

3. In closing, we offer you the esteemed Ray Ratto’s take on U.S. women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo being suspended six months for running her mouth at the Olympics: “We only tolerate talent until we find better talent to tolerate.” Here’s hoping we find better talent by February.

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