Fresno State got back in the win column Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium with a 20-13 victory over BYU that made the Bulldogs bowl eligible. Here are three takeaways:
Pretty as a fat lip
It was a game Fresno State could not afford to lose. Not to a Cougars team that came in 2-7. Not after what happened last week, losing at home to a 21-point underdog.
While some may have preferred a prettier performance, the Bulldogs opted to slug it out with the Cougars in the trenches and barely escaped with their teeth intact.
This one was as pretty, and subtle, as a fat lip.
Despite being outgained by BYU, Fresno State took better opportunity of its red-zone chances and created the game’s key turnover: a fumble recovery by linebacker Jeffrey Allison with 3:14 left after safety Mike Bell popped the ball loose following a completion.
Until that point, the Bulldogs (6-3 overall) and Bulldogs fans could only hold their collective breath.
Fresno State did not commit a turnover, which was probably the difference. Credit quarterback Marcus McMaryion (14 of 20 for 174 yards) for keeping things steady. His only deep pass of the night went for 50 yards to Jamire Jordan and helped set up the game’s first touchdown.
Yes, there will be some nitpicking. But after living through last season’s 1-11, how can anyone complain about a win?
Bulldogs a lukewarm ticket
Guess we should no longer be surprised. Even during a surprising turnaround season, the Bulldogs remain a lukewarm ticket. Only a few of the stadium’s 37 sections (Section 38 remains closed) could be described as anywhere near full.
Thanks to a few hundred white-clad BYU fans in the northeast corner and a smattering in the east-side red seats, attendance climbed to 29,370. Which is better than last week’s 27,922, but not by much.
Which means you can forget about a sellout – or anything approaching one – for the Nov. 25 home finale against Boise State. Not going to happen.
While easy to blame ticket prices, lack of marketing, national TV and a few raindrops, the reality is that Fresno State football has become a niche sport. Which is the last thing this athletic department can afford.
Mims shows his might
A month ago, Jordan Mims looked like he’d spend his freshman season stuck behind fellow freshman Ronnie Rivers on the depth chart.
With Rivers sidelined 2½ games by an elbow injury (save for one play against UNLV), Mims has quickly gone from understudy to leading man. After scoring both Bulldogs touchdowns last week against UNLV, Mims twice found paydirt Saturday night including a 2-yard plunge with 12:40 left that put Fresno State ahead 20-13.
Rivers is back healthy, but Mims doesn’t appear in any hurry to give back the starting job. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder only managed 2.7 yards per carry but certainly has a nose for the end zone.
It’ll be interesting to see how Mims, Rivers and 220-pound bulldozer Josh Hokit split carries over the final three regular-season games.