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Bulldogs Fall Short

Another dream season denied for Fresno

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Fresno State arrived to Laramie with a Top 25 ranking in the country, projections to be the G5 representative in the NY6, and a 14 game winning streak. They left at the end of the night with none of it, but many questions to answer. A completely dysfunctional first half doomed the Bulldogs, as they fell behind 24-7 before shutting out Wyoming in the second half. Even after a missed field goal with 2 minutes left gave the Dogs a final chance at the miracle, Logan Fife threw an interception to a defensive lineman to end the game, and give Wyoming one of their biggest wins in years. Fresno fell 24-19, and now have to hope that Mikey Keene isn’t injured too badly, and that they can get some help if they want to climb back into the MWC Championship conversation.

Credit goes to the Cowboys, who played about as perfect of a first half as they could. They scored on all 4 possessions in the first half, aided by multiple Bulldog penalties along the way. They chewed up the clock, leading at the half more than 2:1 in time of possession. Fresno’s offense was hampered by two drops on consecutive 3rd downs and a lack of rhythm through the entire first half. Their third drive was a success, as Mikey Keene found Jalen Moss from 6 yards out to draw within 3 points. That was truly the only offense to speak of in the first half, as the Cowboys dominated the rest of the period with two Wyatt Wieland touchdowns.

The second half looked more like the Fresno State team we all expected coming into the game after a completely abysmal first half. They shut out the Cowboys, holding them to less than 100 yards and 0 points in the final two quarters. Dylan Lynch booted a 39yd field goal to represent the only score in the 3rd quarter, but it showed positive signs of life for the Dogs. It looked like Fresno were waking up before Mikey Keene was sacked on 3rd down with 8 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. His ankle folded up beneath him as he was hit by two defenders, and he had to be helped from the field. Dylan Lynch came in and hit another field goal to come within 11, and then things started to get very interesting.

In shades of the 2022 SDSU game, Dylan Lynch hit an absolutely perfect onside kick as Alzillion Hamilton flew into the air to catch the bounce and set the Bulldogs up in Wyoming territory. Logan Fife led an efficient drive down to the red zone including a fantastic tip drill catch by Tre Watson to move the chains before Fife threw a brilliant pass to the side of the endzone for Mac Dalena to bring the Dogs within 5. The 2pt conversion fell incomplete, but Fresno still had a chance at the miracle if they could get one more stop and complete one more drive. They were aided by John Hoyland’s uncharacteristic field goal miss, leaving them 1 minute and 58 seconds to try to complete the comeback. Logan Fife completed a 4th down conversion to Jalen Moss to keep the drive alive, but it wasn’t to be. The second down play from Fife was batted up and intercepted by Godbout from the Cowboys, and the dream collapsed like so many before it.

So now the question for Fresno State is how do they bounce back? The chances at a NY6 game have evaporated unless there’s massive chaos around them, and now they need help to even make the conference championship game due to losing this tiebreaker to Wyoming. Air Force is still undefeated in the conference, and the Falcons will host the Cowboys next week. The Dogs will need to play clean the rest of the way, and somehow hope that both Air Force and Wyoming stumble if they want a chance at the conference title. While this team is already exceeding expectations by getting to 5-1, every loss hurts. This is just something that Fresno State fans have come to expect at this stage. They’ll pick off P5 teams unexpectedly, climb into the backend of the rankings, generate good hype, and then lose a winnable game against a conference opponent. Rinse and repeat, but always falling short. They’ll have to regroup quickly for a Friday game against Utah State who looks to have found their feet. A lot will depend on Mikey Keene’s health and the coaching staff’s ability to get the focus back on the future to try to secure a third straight 10-win campaign.