Boise State (2-1) at Fresno State (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, September 20, 9:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bulldog Stadium (41,031) -- Fresno, California. Television: ESPN. Home Record: BSU 2-0, FSU 2-0. Away Record: BSU 0-1, FSU 0-0. Neutral Record: BSU 0-0, FSU 0-0. Conference Record: BSU 1-0, FSU 0-0. Series Record: Boise State leads, 11-4.
GAME NOTES: After an unexpected break in the action last week due to the heavy flooding in Colorado, the Fresno State Bulldogs head back to the football field this Friday night as they kick off the Mountain West Conference portion of their schedule against the Boise State Broncos.
Fresno State, which is playing at home for the third straight game to kick off the new campaign, started 2013 with wins over Rutgers (52-51 in overtime) and Cal Poly (41-25) before planning the trip to Boulder last weekend. Unfortunately, heavy rains caused considerable flooding throughout the area, forcing school officials to postpone the meeting in the best interest of all involved.
At this point there has been no make-up date announced and there's a chance the game will not take place at all since there doesn't appear to be an available date on the calendar that works for either Colorado or Fresno State.
While the Bulldogs are expected to be at the top of the West Division of the 12-team MWC, Boise State figures to be a major contender over in the Mountain Division. The Broncos, ranked 19th in the country coming into the season, were quickly taken to task in the opener by Washington at the end of August, sending BSU to an ugly 38-6 defeat.
Since then Boise State has rebounded with consecutive wins over Tennessee- Martin (63-14) and Air Force (42-20), the latter being the conference opener for the Broncos last Friday night at home.
Last year, BSU pulled out a 20-10 victory at home versus the Bulldogs, which means the Broncos now own a 11-4 edge in the all-time series.
Running back Jay Ajayi carried the load for the Broncos last Friday as he scored four times in the 22-point win over Air Force. Ajayi ran for a game- high 125 yards on 17 attempts in order to offset two fumbles, one of which was lost to Air Force in the red zone. Quarterback Joe Southwick chipped in with 53 yards and a score on just six rushing attempts as the Broncos rolled up 229 yards against a team which is used to running all over their opponents.
Southwick converted all but two of his 29 pass attempts for 287 yards and a score to Kirby Moore, his completion percentage of .931 setting the all-time Boise State single-game record, previously held by Jared Zabransky at .913 (21-of-23). When you add in backup signal-caller Grant Hedrick who completed his only two pass attempts of the night, the Broncos broke the NCAA team record for completion percentage (minimum 25 completions), hitting at a staggering 93.6 percent clip. UCLA held the previous mark (.926), after completing 25-of-27 passes against Washington on Oct. 29, 1983.
However, even with the record-setting performance, Southwick and the BSU passing attack is still ranked just 53rd in the nation with a team efficiency rating of 142.39. Southwick has completed an impressive 73.4 percent of his passes, but there are still clear instances where head coach Chris Petersen has been frustrated with his quarterback's decision making.
Thankfully, Ajayi has come along to offer plenty of support coming out of the backfield with his 298 rushing yards and six touchdowns through three games. As a unit, BSU is producing a solid 206.7 ypg on the ground, but at the same time the defense is giving up 202.7 ypg rushing to opponents, although a good portion of that stems from playing Air Force last week.
Even though the Bulldogs did not take the field last week, the team still received 27 votes in the latest Associated Press Poll and that has the group on the fringe of breaking into the Top-25. Most of the credit should go to quarterback Derek Carr who has become one of the top game managers in college football.
Carr, who has been playing in the shadow of brother David who was the top overall pick in the NFL Draft coming out of Fresno State, finally moved ahead of his brother in career touchdown passes last week, now with 71. Derek needs only 13 more aerial scores to tie Paul Pinegar for the school record, which shouldn't be too difficult given his performances the last few years.
With just 17 interceptions in his career, Carr is also second among active FBS quarterbacks in terms of touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.18), trailing only Alabama's A.J. McCarron who has a mark of 54-to-9 (6.0).
Making Carr's job that much easier are Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse who have combined for 36 receptions, 340 yards and four TDs this season. Burse also has a pair of touchdowns on punt returns, making him dangerous any time he is on the field.
If there is one aspect of the game that the Bulldogs need to improve upon it is in the running game, averaging just 3.9 yards per attempt and having scored just twice on the ground. The sooner head coach Tim DeRuyter can install a more potent attack behind Carr, the more productive his quarterback can become, which is a scary notion.
Fresno State has lost seven straight meetings with the Broncos, but with Carr coming into his own and the Bulldogs more than ready to get caught up in an offensive affair, this could be the year that FSU grabs more of the headlines.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 31, Boise State 24
09/18 10:48:09 ET