WEEK 12: Fresno State Bulldogs; MWC (2-5, 3-7) vs BYU Cougars; Independent (7-3)
WHEN: Saturday, November 21 -- 12:00 PM, PST
WHERE: LaVell Edwards Stadium; Provo, Utah (63,470)
TV: ESPN3 or BYUtv (Dish Network, Ch. 9403; DirecTV, Ch. 374), and also streaming BYUtv.org
RADIO: Fresno's two ESPN affiliates, 940 and 1600 AM, will broadcast the game in English and Spanish, respectively.
SERIES RECORD: The Bulldogs lead the series vs. the Cougars, 5-4 and won the last time the two teams met, 31-21 in 1998 at Bulldog Stadium.
The Bulldogs got a much needed reprieve during their stay last week in Hawaii, setting season highs on offense with 29 first downs, 285 yards passing, 455 yards of total offense and 42 points scored. Not to be outdone by the offense, the defense also set season highs with four turnovers. However losers of eight straight, Hawaii resembled more of a high school team than a conference rival.
This week the Bulldogs will be far removed from the tropical paradise and comfort of playing a beaten down Warrior team, as they travel to Provo where the temperature at kickoff is supposed to be a brisk 34 degrees. The weather won't be the only other drastic change. BYU had won five straight games before losing a close one to Missouri last week. This week is their last home game of the season. They will be honoring the seniors, so between the weather, the emotion of the moment and the need to improve their status for a bowl game, BYU has a lot to play for.
Have the Bulldogs improved? Was Zack Greenlee's 6 TD performance an aberration? This week's match-up should provide an excellent platform to help answer those questions. These are the keys to continued improvement and a Bulldog victory.
SCORE EARLY...but how?
Zack Greenlee arrived last week after what's been a long journey on a very rocky road on and off the field. The Bulldogs have nothing left to play for except for their own pride and self-respect. They need to come out and do the unexpected.
Throw the ball down the field. Take a chance that Jamire Jordan can out run anyone in the BYU secondary and believe that Greenlee has the arm to get him the ball. He does. If it doesn't work the first time, do it again and then do it again. Fresno State has nothing more to lose at this point in the season.
It's time for the team to have fun. Take the harnesses off and let the ball fly. BYU won't be expecting it, they'll be expecting Fresno State to run the ball, throw a short slant over the middle or a screen of some sort. Make them pay. Do it early and do it often.
If Fresno State is able to score on their first possession it would keep the momentum from the Hawaii game going and put them in good position for the upset.
Tempo. Tempo. Tempo.
76, 64, 62, 47, 62, 69, 56, 64. Those are the number of plays Fresno State ran in their eight games against FBS opponents prior to playing Hawaii. Against the Warriors, the Bulldogs ran 86 plays.
This is the key to the Bulldogs winning any game, not just against BYU. If drives are not sustained and stops on defense are followed by a quick three and out by the Bulldogs on offense, they're simply doomed.
The good news is, and maybe Hawaii is really just that bad, but Greenlee looked in rhythm. If he can stay in rhythm, stay strong despite the inevitable pressure that he will undoubtedly see from a team that ranks No. 8 in the country in sacks, and get rid of the ball quickly, the Bulldogs will succeed.
Greenlee must be sharp with his pre-snap reads, mobile and poised in the pocket, and accurate with his passes. If he is and he can keep the offense humming at the pace it was designed to operate at, the Bulldogs will have a strong chance of winning this game.
This message is specifically for the defense. They give up the big play. We all know that and there's no reason to believe they won't give up a big play or two against BYU. Who cares. The season is over. No reason to get down about it now.
Go out have fun, pressure Tanner MangThe Bulldogs travel to Provo, Utah to take on the Cougars for the first time since 1998. It's time for them to enjoy the moment.um, make him uncomfortable. Hit them hard. Hit them often. Put the ball on the ground. This is what the Nick Toth defense is all about and despite the big play problem, the Bulldog defense has just as much of a chance to make some big plays of their own. Be it a turnover, a fumble recovery or an interception, this is their time to shine and enjoy the moment and the easiest time to do that is literally when there's nothing at stake.
The pressure's off. The only thing left to do now is have fun and if they give up a big play, as they most inevitably will, shake it off and move on to the next play, the next moment.
The more fun the Bulldogs decide to have before and during the game, the better their chance to win in Provo.