Wyoming (1-5) at Fresno State (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 10:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bulldog Stadium (41,031) -- Fresno, California. Television: CSN (Bay). Home Record: Wyoming 0-3, FSU 3-0. Away Record: Wyoming 1-2, FSU 1-3. Neutral Record: Wyoming 0-0, FSU 0-0. Conference Record: Wyoming 0-2, FSU 2-1. Series Record: Wyoming leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: Still perfect at home this season through three dates, the Fresno State Bulldogs try to take down the Wyoming Cowboys when the squads meet in Mountain West Conference action in California on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they've also had to hit the road in 2012 and that's resulted in three defeats, the most recent of those coming last weekend when the team bowed to nationally-ranked Boise State on the blue turf, 20-10. The 10 points for the Bulldogs were the fewest this season.
As for the Cowboys, they played last weekend without quarterback Brett Smith who was held out of action due to disciplinary issues from a week earlier. For the fifth straight game the squad was trapped in a tight contest and again the team tasted defeat as it lost to Air Force by a single point at home, 28-27. Having gone to overtime in the two games leading up to the meeting with the Falcons, Wyoming has now had the last five games decided by seven points or less and four decided by no more than three points.
The most recent meeting between the schools went to double-overtime back in 2009, with the Cowboys picking up a 35-28 victory in the New Mexico Bowl and earning a 4-3 edge in the all-time series in the process.
With Smith unavailable for the Wyoming offense, the unit instead took its cues from freshman signal-caller Jason Thompson who managed to convert 23-of-36 passes for 195 yards and a score, but in the end that simply wasn't good enough for the Pokes. Thompson also ran for 75 yards as the Cowboys delivered 252 yards and two touchdowns on the ground overall.
Wyoming was able to control the tempo of the game with the Falcons for the most part, but at the same time the Cowboys defense was caught off guard as the visitors threw a pair of touchdown passes which is rather unusual given that the Academy is one of the weakest passing squads in the nation yet again this season.
Every Wyoming opponent this season has scored at least 24 points, which is why the team stands 94th in the country and eighth in the Mountain West with 32.5 ppg allowed. More often than not the Cowboys have been victimized through the air, with foes tossing 15 touchdowns, but at the same time Wyoming has also given up 10 touchdowns on the ground so the team nearly needs work in all areas on that side of the ball.
The availability of Smith for this week will be crucial to the offensive approach for the Cowboys, yet Thompson did show his teammates that, if called upon, he can fill Smith's shoes rather admirably.
Last season when they were still members of the Western Athletic Conference, the Bulldogs didn't look too good at home against Boise State, losing one of the most lopsided games in programs history (57-7), so last week FSU was hoping for a much better showing. The team was able to achieve that, holding the Broncos to only a fraction of their point total from a year ago, but still the end result was the same.
Against the Broncos in enemy territory, Fresno State fell behind by 17 points at the intermission and only made some minor adjustments at the break in order to come away with 10 points in the second half of the double-digit defeat. Quarterback Derek Carr, responsible for a total of nine passing touchdowns in the previous two games, was held to just one aerial score as he converted 29- of-43 for 266 yards and an interception, while being sacked three times.
Robbie Rouse, responsible for nine catches for 68 yards, ran for a team-best 77 yards on 25 attempts which means the school's all-time leading rusher now needs just 55 yards to reach 4,000 for his career.
Limiting the Broncos to only 20 points might be seen as a moral victory, given how badly the Bulldogs were beaten up in 2011, but the reality is the BSU offense is not nearly as potent this year as it was in the past. Nevertheless, with those three sacks of Carr, the Bulldogs are still first in the conference and 21st nationally with an average of 2.9 sacks per outing.
Turnover margin is also an important gauge for FSU these days, as the team ranks second in the MWC and 11th in the country with a plus-1.29 per game Even though the team is still just one game over .500 overall at this stage, it is still good to know that the Bulldogs are far ahead of the pace they ended up with last year when they finished up 116th in the nation with minus-1.08 turnover per contest.
Rouse has hit a few stumbling blocks of late when it comes to running the ball, but expect him to find plenty of holes against a porous run defense this weekend as he helps lead the Bulldogs to victory at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 31, Wyoming 24
10/17 10:45:06 ET