For about a quarter and a half, Fresno State's BCS credentials looked as though they would face another grueling test at 7,000 feet above sea level. In the next two and a half quarters, the Bulldogs passed its test with flying colors, scoring seven unanswered touchdowns en route to a 48-10 victory over the Wyoming Cowboys.
After trading punts on the teams' opening drives, Wyoming running back Tedder Easton gashed the interior of the Fresno defense with a 79-yard run and the Cowboys scored on the next play, a one-yard toss from Brett Smith to Shaun Wick. The Bulldogs offense got off to a very slow start, plagued mostly by drops by the wide receivers and east-west running plays that Wyoming sniffed out. However, the first red zone opportunity was more indicative of sloppy play than anything else: A sack, a block in the back penalty, delay of game, a false start on 4th-and-2 after a big Josh Harper catch, and then a blocked field goal by Cowboys safety Marqueston Huff.
On Wyoming's ensuing drive, Ejiro Ederaine made a critical third down stop of Wick which forced the Cowboys to settle for a Stuart Williams field goal and a 10-0 lead. Two weeks after running for 234 yards, Wick was held to just 47 yards on 16 carries because Fresno's front seven did an excellent job of clamping down on the Pokes' running game following Easton's big play.
The game turned on a questionable targeting penalty against Huff roughly midway into the second quarter. Derek Carr had found Isaiah Burse on a 21-yard strike and, though Huff was not disqualified, the Bulldogs moved into the red zone with the added yards and scored two plays later on a Marcel Jensen touchdown, his first of the year. Following a Wyoming three-and-out, Carr went 6-for-6 on Fresno's next possession and connected with Burse for a 14-10 lead.
Smith tried to answer before halftime, but a tipped pass fell into Derron Smith's hands for an interception as time expired. The Cowboys junior quarterback was unable to take many shots deep against a depleted Bulldogs secondary and had his worst performance since... well, facing Fresno a year ago, finishing just 18-of-32 for 141 yards. Robert Herron and Dominic Rufran, Wyoming's two leading receivers, had five catches each for 55 and 32 yards.
At the beginning of the third quarter, a Dillon Root fumble on the opening kickoff forced Carr to start deep in their own territory. The 'Dogs made a statement, however, as they marched 96 yards in 13 plays and took a 21-10 lead on a 3-yard score by Marteze Waller. The running game had been mostly stagnant in the first half, but Quezada earned 59 of his 133 all-purpose yards before giving way to Waller, who finished with 51 yards. The Bulldogs then foiled a Wyoming fake punt and gambled by taking a Colin McGuire field goal off the board in favor a second fourth down opportunity. The gambit worked, as Carr hooked up with Jensen for a second touchdown.
Wyoming's last gasp ended with a turnover on downs inside the Fresno red zone late in the third quarter. Fresno would add a 2-yard Quezada touchdown plunge, a Davante Adams strike and a bootleg by backup quarterback Brian Burrell to account for the final score. Carr finished 33-of-46 for 360 yards and four scores, while Harper paced Fresno's dynamic receiving trio with nine catches and 159 yards. The Cowboys defense gave up 600 yards of total offense, but linebacker Jordan Stanton racked up 17 tackles, including 2 1/2 tackles for loss.
The Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0 MWC) are off next weekend and host New Mexico on November 23. The Cowboys (4-5, 2-3) travel to Boise State next Saturday to face the Broncos.