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San José State vs. Fresno State: Keys for a Spartan Victory

The Spartans look to defend the Valley Trophy against the Bulldogs in the season finale for both teams.

San José State players hoisting the Valley Trophy after last season’s victory at Spartan Stadium against Fresno State, 49-23.

Game: San José State (3-8, 2-5 MW) at Fresno State (1-10, 0-9 MW)

When: Saturday, November 26, 2016,

Where: Bulldog Stadium, Fresno CA, 12:30 p.m. (PT)

TV: CBS Sports Network

Series history: Fresno State leads the series, 40-36-3. The Spartans' have more games against the Bulldogs (79) than any other opponent. San José State has wins in three of the last four games including a 49-23 victory in San José last season. The Spartans' last win in Fresno was a 27-24 victory on November 26, 2011. That game was San José State's first win in Fresno since 1987.

Summary: With little to be over-joyous about with another consecutive down season in the Caragher regime, the Spartans are looking to end it on a high note. History does seem to be on the Spartans side for victory. The 2013 win over #16 Fresno State, 62-52, was the last time San José State concluded a regular season with a victory. The last time the Spartans ended a season with a road win was the 2011 victory in Bulldog Stadium. We shall see how things pan out on Saturday.

Spartans’ Keys to Victory

Spartan Defense Showing Up the Whole Game

With these two abysmal defenses, San José State allowing 452 total yards to Fresno State’s 422 total yards per game average, the game is going to come down to which team is less like a wet paper bag. Last week against Air Force, Spartans LB Frank Ginda and LB Christian Tago both led the team with 14 tackles each, a sack and a tackle for a loss. They need to shutdown the rushing game of the Bulldogs, led by RB Dontel James (averaging 3.3 yards per rush.) I feel if they can use the experience gained from the triple-option threat last week, they’ll be in a good position for a victory.

Kenny Potter Can Just Keep Running for Touchdowns

QB Kenny Potter could become the first San José State quarterback since Roger Proffitt in 1975 to lead or share the team lead for touchdowns scored in a season. Potter presently leads the Spartans with seven touchdowns scored. There are three other players tied with four touchdowns apiece.

Potter currently has 260 yards rushing for 2.1 yards per rush. That may seem small, but Potter was sacked for a FBS high of 48 times sacked for an average of 4.36 sacks per game. He was continually running for his life in the backfield, so I’m surprised he has a positive yard average at all.

K Bryce Crawford Keeps Kicking

Spartan kicker Bryce Crawford has been perfect on his last 8 of 8 field goals in row, going 13-15 this season. Making 86.7% of field goals kicked, puts Crawford well above the FBS field goal average of 72.9%. With how suspect the Spartan defense has been, Crawford’s high average of field goals made will be needed to help them eke out a win.

Final Analysis

With the Spartans only being favored by -3 points, doesn’t give me much confidence in an outright victory. The Spartans are bad, but the Bulldogs are worse. Entering into his final contract year, Spartans’ coach Ron Caragher has produced zero seasons above .500 in the four years he has been in San José. With the lack of confidence from the Spartan faithful, he will be on an even hotter seat with a loss against the Bulldogs.

It will be equally interesting to watch the Spartans’ enthusiasm when players can sense a coach is on his way out and keep themselves fully engaged in the season finale.


The Spartans will keep their heads in the game, spurred on to end their season with a positive note for next year. The Spartans will lean on Potter for the victory, Spartans win 34-20. The Valley Trophy stays in San José for another year.