Making the case for a Fresno State Mountain West Championship
The green v on the backs of the Bulldogs’ helmets are looking like money with only one more win between them and a Mountain West championship. The championship game is this Saturday and it is a repeat affair against Boise State, who I should be quick to remind anyone who wasn't acting last week Fresno beat 28-17. Let me run you through a couple of reasons why Fresno State will be Mountain West champions for the first time since 2014.
They have a balanced offense and that is very hard to stop. This season the Bulldogs have achieved a rare harmony between the running and passing games that all teams strive for but very few achieve. They even gain an equal number of first downs passing and rushing with 107 each. Last week against Boise they scored twice in the air and once on the ground so they didn't have to break from form to beat Boise 11. Marcus McMarion ended the season with only 3 interceptions and a 62% completion percentage, those numbers should instill great confidence that Boise won't be able to stack the box and fully stop the run game. Three running backs had at least 90 carries, with Jordan Mims taking a team high 136 attempts, so look for there to even be a balance who gets the ball.
Strength of schedule is a big deal when it involves playing against multiple top 10 teams. Two of Freno’s losses this season came to Alabama and Washington so this team is thoroughly battle tested and wont be phased by playing Boise on their home turf. They both beat New Mexico, San Diego State, BYU and Wyoming so there is no obvious tie breaker there so you have to look at the non rest of the schedule for some insights to each team and this is where things very quickly stack up in favor or Fresno State. This team has been in as unfriendly of territory as it gets in the college football word and it’s a safe bet that coach Tedford has helped them learn from those experiences.
Speaking of the head coach, there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Jeff Tedford. I’m willing to debate the validity of the ‘intangibles’ argument in favor of a team, but my goodness it seems like Tedford is meant to flourish at Fresno. He played there and began his coaching career there so this is not a fly by night coach looking for a bounce to a power five school coaching position. He also has a track record of sparking quick turnarounds wen he arrives a schools, most notably he dramatic reversal of a long irrelevant Cal. This would fit the pattern of his success and to the fans out there who do put stock in the intangibles of football, it may suggest that Tedofrd is playing the hot hand right now.
It may be a football cliche to stat that it it hard to beat a team a second time, and I’m not saying that Fresno is a stone cold lock, but the evidence seems to point to a favorable matchup this Saturday for Fresno.