San Diego State (2-2) at Fresno State (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 10:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bulldog Stadium (41,031) -- Fresno, California. Television: Local. Home Record: SDSU 2-1, FSU 2-0. Away Record: SDSU 0-1, FSU 0-2. Neutral Record: SDSU 0-0, FSU 0-0. Conference Record: SDSU 0-0, FSU 0-0. Series Record: San Diego State leads, 27-20-4.
GAME NOTES: Hoping that the trend of alternating wins and loses continues for at least one more game, the Fresno State Bulldogs play their first Mountain West Conference game of the season at home this weekend against the San Diego State Aztecs.
Fresno State, which made the switch from the Western Athletic Conference to the MWC beginning this year, is off to a 2-2 start under new head coach Tim DeRuyter. The team scored a massive 69-14 win over Colorado a couple weeks back the last time they hosted a game, but last Saturday the team was taken down by Tulsa on the road in a heartbreaking 27-26 final during which FSU missed a pair of PATs and a field goal.
As for the Aztecs, they too have split their first four games of 2012 under head coach Rocky Long who has been a mainstay in the MWC. Long, who previously coached the New Mexico Lobos, watched a two-game win streak come to an end last weekend when his team bowed against visiting San Jose State in a 38-34 final at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Aztecs, who are on the road for just this one game during a stretch of six contests, won the last meeting a season ago by a score of 35-28, FSU's regular-season finale, which means SDSU now owns a 27-20-4 advantage in the all-time series.
For the second straight week, running back Adam Muema registered a career high in rushing, but this time around his effort was not quite enough to keep the Aztecs from falling into the loss column. Muema, who ran for 124 yards in the win over North Dakota in the middle of September, finished with 202 yards and a score on 25 carries versus San Jose State at home.
Muema, who has landed in the end zone in four straight games, was the main piece to a rushing attack that registered 271 yards and two TDs, while Ryan Katz completed 17-of-27 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns through the air to balance the attack. However, Katz was sacked five times for a loss of 24 yards which means SDSU is now tied for 105th in the country with 3.0 sacks allowed per outing.
Even though Katz seems to be facing constant pressure, the signal-caller has still managed to complete 61.2 percent of his passes, leading to seven TDs and just a single INT, but those numbers could change in a big way if the offensive line doesn't tighten up.
Over on the defensive side for the Aztecs, Nat Berhe has more solo tackles (22) than anyone else has total stops at this juncture, while Leon McFadden has made his presence felt with a pair of interceptions and five passes broken up, both of which pace the team at the moment.
If the Bulldogs play anywhere near the level they did against Colorado a few weeks ago, San Diego State will need more than just Berhe and McFadden to help slow down Fresno State this time.
But after the Bulldogs exploded for an incredible showing versus the Buffaloes a few weeks back, the team was brought down to reality by Tulsa, particularly on offense. Granted, running back Robbie Rouse logged another 100-yard effort as he posted a game-high 135 yards and a score on 27 carries, while Derek Carr threw for 231 yards and a TD as well, but it wasn't enough to make up for the mistakes.
Patrick Su'a and Tristan Okpalaugo each picked off passes by Tulsa and ran them back for touchdowns, but after both scores kicker Quentin Breshears was unable to convert the ensuing PAT and that proved to be very costly in the one-point decision. Already this season the Bulldogs have failed on four of their 20 PATs and as they showed last weekend, those plays can come back to haunt a team.
Even though the Bulldogs have split their first four games, there's no denying that the program has one of the best one-two punches on offense of any team in the nation. Rouse, now the all-time leading rusher at Fresno State, is averaging better than six yards per carry and has been responsible for 85 of the unit's 148 rushing attempts, en route to six TDs.
Carr, the younger brother of former FSU signal-caller and top NFL Draft pick David, has thrown at least one TD in each of the last 11 games and all but one contest in which he's played since the start of the 2011 campaign. More importantly Carr, who has a total of nine TD passes so far this season, has tossed just one interception on 138 attempts so he seems to making all the right reads and quality judgments in the pocket.
Both of these teams have top-quality runners and passers, but Rouse and Carr have been around just a bit longer than their counterparts at San Diego State and that could make all the difference this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 28, San Diego State 21
09/26 10:32:37 ET