One Last Chance for Fresno State

One Last Chance for Fresno State

During Coach Pat Hill’s 14 years at the helm, Fresno State has been a very consistent program. They have been to a bowl game 11 of the last 12 years. They will play anybody anywhere and rarely get blown out by a BCS school. In the last four years the Bulldogs have beaten Illinois twice, Kansas State, UCLA and Rutgers. In that span they have also taken Texas A&M and Wisconsin to overtime and come pretty close to beating some other BCS teams. Despite the non-conference success, it may come as a surprise to many that Fresno State has not claimed the Western Athletic Conference title since 1999. And even then it was a three way tie.

This could be the year that little streak ends and, with the Bulldogs heading to the Mountain West in 2012, it is their last chance. Boise State has been the main obstacle standing in the way and they are already gone. That pretty much leaves Fresno State left with Hawaii, Nevada and Louisiana Tech to battle it out for the WAC title one last time before the WAC turns into a conference few people care about. Every team in the conference except Hawaii is breaking in a new quarterback, but Fresno State should have an advantage in that department if Derek Carr comes anywhere close to living up to his hype. Every team in the conference has big holes to fill, but there is one major disadvantage to Fresno State’s chance to end their run in the WAC on top.

The schedule makers were not very kind to the Bulldogs this year. With seven conference games, Fresno State ended up with just three home games and four road games. Making matters worse, two of those road games are against fellow favorites Nevada and Hawaii. Nevada, on the other hand, has the easiest possible schedule…on paper at least. The Wolf Pack hosts the three other top contenders for the WAC title and has their three road games against the weaker competition.

Certainly Fresno State has proven that they can go on the road and be successful, but the schedule is what may stop the Bulldogs from winning the conference. If they have not been able to win a conference title since 1999, they may easily slip in conference play, even with their game against Boise State not counting towards the league standings. But playing California, Boise State, Nebraska, Mississippi and San Diego State in non-conference play could hurt this group’s confidence and cause them to look past teams like Utah State and Idaho early in the year.


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