The Red Wave has been turbulent the last week after two straight embarrassing losses to in-state conference rivals. Gone are the Valley Trophy and the Old Oil Can from Bulldog Lane and with the dismissal of yet another highly regarded recruit due to a violation of "team rules and athletic department policy" there doesn't seem to be a lot of hope going forward for the program at this point in time.
Maybe the best way to discover the keys to Fresno State's victory vs Utah State we need to go back in time. With the resurgence of the Chicago Cubs this season there has been a lot of talk about the "Back to the Future Part II" prediction that the Cubs win the World Series in 2015. Fresno State, meanwhile, has decided to go back in time to drum up support for this week's Homecoming game by naming two of the six Bulldogs that have their jerseys retired as honorary captains.
KEYS TO FRESNO STATE VICTORY
1. Travel back in time to 1982, grab the leading receiver of the 11-1 Bulldogs, No. 83, Henry Ellard, and bring the legendary speeder back to help this anemic offense. Ellard, a three time Pro Bowler and one of only 45 people in NFL history to surpass 10,000 yards receiving could probably suit up now and help the team. Ellard, who was also known for his celebratory standing backflip, placed 1st in the Triple Jump at the 2014 & 2015 USATF Masters Outdoor Championships.
2. Once we have Ellard back to the future, we'll need to return back in time to retrieve someone who can get him the ball, so lets go back to 1985 and the 11-0-1 Bulldogs and find Fresno State's second honorary captain, No. 9, Kevin Sweeney. Though the two never played together in this fantasy world I'm sure they'd make a great combination. Unfortunately, I'm not sure even their support off the field can do much to secure a victory for the Bulldogs on Homecoming that will most likely be highlighted by Sweeney and Ellard's introduction at halftime.
In all seriousness though, it was interesting to research these players, both of which I had the pleasure of cheering on in person as a kid. What was interesting was Ellard, though a part of a legendary 1982 Bulldog squad that went 11-1 with wins over Oregon (10-4 in Eugene) and this week's opponent Utah State (31-6 at Bulldog Stadium), it was the only team that Ellard played on that could boast a winning record.
In 1980 and 1981 the Bulldogs went 5-6 under Coach Jim Sweeney and in Ellard's freshman year, 1979, they went 4-7 in Bob Padilla's final year as head coach. Kevin Sweeney on the other hand was never a part of a losing season at Fresno State, though his freshman (6-5) and sophomore (6-6) seasons, in which he both started at quarterback, were less than spectacular in the win loss column.
3. Hopefully the current Bulldogs can keep their heads up and continue to work to improve, because that is truly the only way they will beat Utah State. They need to believe they can win, because I don't know anybody else who does.