We haven’t seen anyone clearly emerge as a candidate to be a BCS-buster on the major bowl scene, but with their 41-40 win over Boise on Friday night, Fresno might be a team that can get on the national radar between now and November.
The win should have come much easier than it did. Fresno, playing at home, had built a 34-19 lead late in the third quarter, but allowed three consecutive Bronco touchdowns and were suddenly trailing 40-34. Bulldog quarterback Derek Carr, who threw 60 times overall, led one more touchdown drive and Fresno would pull out a 41-40 win.
The coming schedule looks good for the Bulldogs. While three of the next four are on the road, the next two—at Hawaii and Idaho—are against bad teams. A home game against UNLV would be almost impossible to lose. The next road game is San Diego State, which could be a trouble spot, but the Aztecs have badly underachieved so far in 2013.
So long as Fresno holds serve, they’ll keep their perfect record and built up a head of steam in the media by November. That would set the stage for two big road games, against good teams in Wyoming and San Jose State. Those are sandwiched around a home game against New Mexico, and the potent running of Kasey Carrier.
Finally, if all goes to plan, Fresno will play in the Mountain West championship game. This would presumably be either a rematch with Boise State or a game with Utah State. The game will be played at the venue of the team with the highest BCS ranking, which according to our scenario, would obviously be Fresno.
The schedule is manageable, but is the football team good enough? Boise is not known for its passing offense, at least since not Kellen Moore left campus. Yet Joe Southwich lit it up for 313 yards. Fresno was also completely unable to run the ball. Carr was brilliant, completing 39/60 passes for 460 yards, and more amazingly, he did not throw an interception with that kind of volume. Receivers Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse are fantastic.
This passing game will make Fresno attractive to a BCS game if they can get themselves eligible, but the lack of a running game and the question marks surrounding their defense make me hesitant about predicting their success.
TheSportsNotebook’s updated BCS bowl projections are below. There is only one change from last week and that’s putting Wisconsin back in the at-large pool after we removed the Badgers for Michigan. I was willing to cut the Wolverines a little slack for their struggle against Akron, figuring it was a post-Notre Dame letdown. But struggling against a lousy UConn team when Michigan should have been ready to refocus? That can’t happen.
THE PROJECTED FIELD OF TEN
Big 12: Oklahoma
Big Ten: Ohio State
American Athletic (old Big East): Louisville
At-Large: South Carolina, Oregon, Florida State, Wisconsin
BCS National Championship: Alabama-Stanford
Sugar: South Carolina-Florida State
Rose: Ohio State-Oregon
TheSportsNotebook’s college football coverage has post-Week 4 thoughts on each of the five power conferences…