2012 is a fresh start for the Fresno State football team. For the first time in 15 years, Pat Hill will not be coaching the team; it will be former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. With new schemes on offense and defense (Moving to the spread and 3-4 respectively) the Bulldogs may have some difficulty transitioning. They return fifteen starters. 8 of them are on offense, including Derek Carr, arguably the best QB in the MWC going into next season, and RB Robbie Rouse, who was seventh in the nation in rushing. 4 of their 5 top receivers also return. On defense, seven starters return, plus safety Phillip Thomas, who broke his leg in a preseason drill and was gone all of 2011.
With the 2012 Mountain West football schedules released, it's time to have a look at Fresno State's. The Bulldogs open with FCS Weber State at home. For a team with a new head coach and entirely new coaching staff, this is about as soft as an opener as one could ask for. After that, though, the real schedule begins.
Following the Weber State game, Fresno State must go on the road to play the Oregon Ducks, who will most likely be a preseason top 5 team. This begins what is probably the toughest part of the schedule, although there really are no brutal stretches. They return home for a game against Colorado and then must travel to Tulsa and then head back home for San Diego State. The two seemingly toughest games (Oregon, Boise) are on the road, but so are the two easiest (UNM, Colorado State).
Connections will abound when Fresno State travels to Colorado State. Now-Colorado State head coach (And former Fresno State OC) Jim McElwain was a frontrunner for the Fresno State job in December before he pulled his name from the running, and he has since hired Drew Hill and Tim Skipper, both members of Pat Hill's old staff.
The overall record 2011 of Fresno State's opponents was 80-73, with seven of these teams having played in Bowl games. This would put their SOS at 61. This is slightly flawed, as it does not take into account FCS teams and starters lost, but it is still a decent measuring stick.
|9/01/12||Weber State Wildcats||5-6 (FCS)|
|9/08/12||at Oregon Ducks||12-2|
|9/22/12||at Tulsa Golden Hurricane||8-5|
|9/29/12||San Diego State Aztecs||8-5|
|10/06/12||at Colorado State Rams||3-9|
|10/13/12||at Boise State Broncos||12-1|
|10/27/12||at New Mexico Lobos||1-11|
|11/10/12||at Nevada Wolf Pack||7-6|
|11/24/12||Air Force Falcons||7-6|
If DeRuyter can bump Fresno State's defense from awful (The Bulldogs were 106th in the country in scoring defense) to even middle-of-the-pack, like he has done as DC to other schools previously, and if the offense even stays where it was last year (No shortage of talent there), then seven wins and a bowl game is not out of the question.