Who: Fresno State Bulldogs (1-1) vs. Cal Poly Mustangs (1-0)
Where: Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, CA (Capacity: 40,727)
When: Saturday, September 11, 7PM
How to Watch: Game will be available through CW59 and the Mountain West app
After a truly heart-breaking loss to No.11 Oregon last Saturday, Fresno State must not put the pieces back together in the friendly confines of Bulldog Stadium and a favorable opponent in the Cal Poly Mustangs. Let’s take a look at what the Dogs need to do to get back into the win column.
Cal Poly Info:
Beau Baldwin got off to a rough start in his first year in SLO, with the FCS season moving to the spring, with the Mustangs going 0-3 in blowout fashion before canceling the rest of their season. They have returned in the Fall, and started their season with a win over the University of San Diego. Is the program turning the corner this Fall, or will the transition from triple option to air raid take more time? A road trip against a very hungry Fresno State squad might not be the best indicator for them.
QB Spencer Brasch did throw for 316 yards in their opening game, and former Bulldog Chris Coleman led their receivers with 76 yards. Definitely remains to be seen how they will stack up against a stingy Fresno State defense, but they will try to pass the ball and spread it around as much as possible
Fresno State keys:
- Avoid the hangover- anyone that’s watched Fresno State football knows that tough loss hangovers have been a staple of the program. With a tough trip to UCLA next on the schedule, Fresno State can not endure any sort of hangover against Cal Poly. They’ll need to keep their foot to the floor for the entire 60 minutes to show that this is a different team from those in the past
- No turnovers- it’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that Fresno State beats Oregon without 3 turnovers. Ball security needs to be of the utmost importance Saturday and going forward
- Maintain assignments- the defense truly is improved over 2020, but a couple of small breakdowns was all that Oregon needed to win the game with a 4th down run. The O-Line tried to keep Haener upright, but struggled at times to open up holes for Rivers and keep Jake safe. Now, Cal Poly will not present the same sort of challenge as Oregon’s front 7, but they still must open running lanes and keep the pocket clean.
- Which kicker?- After a practice injury to Cesar Silva, Abraham Montano rose to the occasion last Saturday with a perfect performance. Practice reports have been quiet about Silva’s availability, but Bulldog fans have to feel some comfort with how Montano did. The coaches will have to make a decision once Silva is healthy though as to who takes the kicking duties
Given everything that happened last week, it would be acceptable to wonder if Fresno State will struggle bouncing back. If this was a different Bulldog team, I might agree that they’d start slow and struggle early, but this is no normal Fresno team. Players and coaches have spoken all week about how motivated the team is to not let the Oregon loss define them. The offense will be way too much for Cal Poly to handle, and the defense does show how improved they are by shutting down a supposedly high flying offense. No worries about looking ahead, the team is locked in against Cal Poly.
ESPN’s FPI sure likes the Bulldogs this year, and they give Freson a 96.8% chance at a victory. Vegas rarely produces lines for FBS/FCS games, so I can not provide one there. Bill Connelly though does provide a line and prediction, and he has the Dogs as a 33.3 point favorite, with a 97% chance of victory. I think Fresno State goes a bit above that, while perhaps not pitching their second shutout of the year.
Prediction: Fresno State 54-10 Cal Poly
We’ll see how close I get, I haven’t been far off so far this year. For all your Mountain West news, keep it glued to Mountain West Connection.