In a season that’s been bad for my liver and sanity from start to finish, there is one more game and one more trophy to fight for in an otherwise lost season. The Bulldogs will travel to San Jose in the 5-7 Bowl. Winner gets to claim the Valley Trophy, and a close to .500 season. Loser falls to 4-8, and a long off-season. Let’s see what happens, and how the Dogs can end their season on a somewhat positive note.
After the slow-motion car accident that was the Fresno State/Nevada game, the Dogs must get themselves together against an SJSU offense that has shown flashes of strength all season. This will be a challenge after getting pounded by Nevada’s moribund offense last week, now they face Josh Love and Tre Walker. Will all come down to the young secondary to see if they can stem the tide, and grow into starting defenders. Not to mention that the senior class that has gone through a 1-11 season and two MWC West championships and bowl wins will want to go out on some sort of positive note in their last game. Mykal Walker and Jaron Bryant will need to play their very best to keep the pressure on SJSU, and force them into mistakes. Josh Love has thrown 8 interceptions this season, and the Spartans have fumbled 12 times so far.
Since this can now be considered 100% a lost season, does Jeff Tedford stick with Jorge Reyna for the last game, or does he make a change for one of the youngsters who will be competing next year? Ben Woolridge has looked great as a backup this year, so there isn’t a huge risk to giving the kid the chance. On the flip side, Tedford has seemed incredibly loyal to Reyna through this year almost to a fault, so does he let the Senior have one more try for a win? If I’m coaching, I give Woolridge the offense to see what the future looks like. But, I’m not the one on the sidelines, just some guy on the Internet. At least with the season ending, maybe the gigantic parade of injuries will finally stop. Fresno State was cursed with about 16 years worth of injuries this season, including about 3,500 on the offensive line. If there’s anything that will grind an offense to a complete halt, it’s uncertainty on the O-Line, but at least everyone got some experience and exercise? That should pay off in the next couple of seasons, but it sure sucks for now. They will need to lean on Ronnie Rivers and Josh Hokit, since SJSU has been allowing more than 230yds/gm this year, even though the Dogs have barely averaged 150yds/gm on the ground.
Frankly, I have zero idea how this game is going to go. Whenever I expect Fresno State to show up and look like themselves, they fall apart and lose completely winnable games by less than a touchdown. The slow-motion car crash of the USU and Nevada game shows what happens when you play to not lose, so does the coaching staff finally wake up and coach the full game with the pedal down? Probably not, but I can hope. SJSU is probably playing to keep Brent Brennan employed, which could be a powerful motivation for them. Dogs will be playing for some sort of positive ending, and their one trophy they have left in the case. Vegas has the Dogs as very slight favorites, as does SP+. FPI is a bit more optimistic, giving the Dogs a 61% chance of winning. I just don’t know, but I’m happy that this season will be over either way at the end. Probably a close game either way, and I guess I should be a homer and call a 4 point Bulldog win.