Fresno State got a seven-year monkey off its back on Friday, winning a wild (to put it lightly) game over rival Boise State and improving to 3-0 on the season.
In the process, the Bulldogs might have done more than merely exorcise some personal demons. They did that too, but Friday night's result had further-reaching consequences. It was an outcome of national importance.
By beating the Broncos, Fresno State has put itself in position to bust the BCS.
In the final year of the BCS—a system Boise State dominated like no other mid-major program—it only seemed fitting that Chris Petersen & Co. would be the final non-automatic qualifier. But the cream rose to the top in Bulldog Stadium, and now Fresno State is the undisputed frontrunner for that distinction.
Why? It goes further than the sheer dominance of Derek Carr and Davante Adams. Fresno State also has one of the easiest remaining schedules in the land:
|Aug. 29||vs. Rutgers||W 52-51|
|Sep. 7||vs. Cal Poly||W 41-25|
|Sep. 14||@ Colorado||PPD|
|Sep. 20||vs. Boise State||W 41-40|
|Sep. 29||@ Hawaii|
|Oct. 5||@ Idaho|
|Oct. 19||vs. UNLV|
|Oct. 26||@ San Diego State|
|Nov. 2||vs. Nevada|
|Nov. 9||@ Wyoming|
|Nov. 22||vs. New Mexico|
|Nov. 29||@ San Jose State|
Last week's game against Colorado was cancelled, and though the teams are looking into ways to reschedule it, for now it seems like it might be a lost week. If that's the case, Fresno State just cleared the last major hurdle on its schedule.
And even if the Bulldogs do end up playing Colorado...well, it's still just Colorado.
Though Fresno State has still yet to play away from home this year, it gets to avoid Utah State, the third-best team in the Mountain West. It should sail relatively smoothly into the final three weeks of the season.
Road games against good offenses like Wyoming and San Jose State might pose a threat, but if Fresno State bears down and plays its best, those teams are a threat the Bulldogs should overcome.
If they finish the year undefeated, there's only a small chance Fresno State will be left out of the final BCS puzzle. Per CBS Sports, here is the exact rule regarding teams from non-BCS conferences:
The highest rated non-AQ conference champion automatically qualifies for an at-large spot if it is in the top 12 of the BCS standings, or in the top 16 and ranked ahead of one of the AQ conference champions.
An undefeated Fresno State would almost certainly qualify for that. Their ranking in the non-computer polls will slowly climb all season, and an undefeated team with the human polls on their side is likely to place favorably in the final BCS standings.
There's just one important caveat—a game that is looming in the background and could throw a wrench in the Bulldogs' rosy future.
Thanks to conference expansion, the Mountain West will have its first ever conference championship game this year. If Fresno State runs the table and wins the West division, they will (most likely) get to host the winner of the East for the MWC title.
Will Fresno State Play in a BCS Bowl?
And the prohibitive favorite to win the East? Even after tonight, that would be the Boise State Broncos.
There's more than a chance, more like a relative likelihood, that Boise State might again travel to Fresno for a rematch of Friday night's instant classic. No matter what happens with Colorado, this is the biggest test looming on the Bulldogs' schedule.
But after what they showed tonight, it's a test they are capable of passing.
Between Carr, Adams, Isaiah Burse and touchdown machine Josh Harper, Fresno State has an offense that can go toe-to-toe with any in the country. That includes not just the team they beat on Friday, but also any team they might play in a BCS bowl.