The Fresno State Bulldogs clinched another Mountain West Title berth Saturday with its 41-14 win over the Nevada Wolf Pack! Let’s jump into my rapid reaction takeaways from the contest!
1. Fresno State clinches West Division Title for first time since 2018.
With its win Saturday, Fresno State clinched yet another West Division Title — its first since 2018 — and will be on its way to another Mountain West title game, their fifth in the now nine seasons it’s existed. The only team that’s been to more? Boise State, the team they’re going to be playing; the Broncos have now clinched the Mountain Division six times in nine years. The game isn’t until Dec. 3, but it’s going to be a matchup between the conference’s best offense and defense on the Blue Field — a fun look ahead!
2. The Bulldog offense remains surgical.
In its last 19 offensive drives leading up to the game, Fresno State scored in some capacity on 17 of them. It wasn’t as dominant against Nevada, but the Bulldogs still surgically picked Nevada apart, scoring on seven of their 11 drives (excluding final drive of second half), with five touchdowns.
Collectively, Fresno State had 524 yards — its fourth 500-yard game — and 26 first downs. Jake Haener completed 29-of-42 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns; it marked his sixth 300-yard game and fifth multi-touchdown game of the season. Jordan Mims ran for 156 yards on 8.2 yards per carry with a touchdown. Haener snuck in a pair of touchdowns in the first and fourth quarter. Jalen Moreno-Cropper and Nikko Remigio both had big evenings.
Overall, it was a good night to be apart of the Bulldog offense.
3. David Perales isn’t human.
It was also an ideal night to be on Fresno State’s defense. Especially if you’re David Perales. Not very often you see a player do this...
....in the same game! It’s safe to say that Perales will be in the running for the conference’s defensive player of the week award, after finishing with a team-most six tackles, two tackles-for-loss, the sack and interception. He’s also going to be in the running for the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, but that’s a different conversation for a different date. Perales now got double-digit sacks!
4. Pack roll with Nate Cox behind center
Quarterback Shane Illingworth suffered a shoulder injury towards the end of last week, though I expected him to start after head coach Ken Wilson’s rolled with him over the last two weeks. Illingworth was suited up, but did not play — as Wilson stuck with the senior on senior night.
Cox was shaky for most of the night, completing 16-of-38 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He had a nice 73-yard touchdown to Dalevon Campbell in the third quarter and a 28-yard dime touchdown to B.J. Casteel on its final drive, though did not generate much offense outside of that. As a team, it totaled 389 yards of offense (5.7 ypp) with 16 first downs.
Toa Taua nearly eclipsed his season-high in rushing yards on senior night, adding 93 rushing yards — with 18 receiving yards — on 21 total touches. He was their only running back to receive carries on the night, with Devonte Lee injured (ankle).
5. Keep stretching the field with Campbell
Cox stretched the field a bunch Saturday, particularly trying to locate 6-foot-4 receiver Dalevon Campbell, its top deep threat. Over the last several weeks, there’s been an uptick in shots taken from Cox and Illingworth, and Campbell has been the primary beneficiary. He was only able to haul in three catches for 120 yards, and was forced to come back on a number of underthrown passes (a few of which were deflected/bobbled/dropped), but the idea of having a deep-ball threat opens up the Pack offense. Let’s see if they can generate additional success in its final game of the season against UNLV!