Fresno State Football: Bulldogs Whip Wolf Pack, Inch Closer to Perfection

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Fresno State Football: Bulldogs Whip Wolf Pack, Inch Closer to Perfection
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Fresno State Bulldogs football team (8-0 overall, 5-0 MWC) can’t help but know the score by now.

Eight down; four to go.

On Saturday night, the No. 17 Bulldogs cruised to a 41-23 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack (3-6 overall, 2-4 MWC), inching one step closer to finishing the regular season unbeaten and earning a trip to a BCS bowl game.

It was also a night for the record books.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, younger brother of David Carr and one of the main reasons the Bulldogs’ BCS campaign has been picking up steam since the early part of the season, passed Kevin Sweeney for first on the school’s all-time passing yards list in the game.

Carr, who broke the record on his final pass of the game, currently has thrown for 10,821 yards in his career.

Of course, it appeared to be just another day at the office for Fresno State’s offense. The Bulldogs, which are currently the No. 6 team in the nation in total offensive yards per game averaging just fewer than 540 per contest, racked up 647 yards against the Wolf Pack. A whopping 487 of those yards came through the air.

The Bulldogs were able to get out to an early lead, heading into the locker room with a 24-10 advantage. But a difficult third quarter in which Nevada was able to hold Fresno State scoreless brought the tally to 24-16 heading into the final quarter.

A 17-point outburst by the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter assured that the Wolf Pack wouldn’t have a chance to spoil the perfect season as San Diego State nearly did last week. All facets of the offense contributed to the final push, with Carr, running back Marteze Waller and kicker Colin McGuire putting points on the board for Fresno State.

However, it was the defense that really stepped up and played a complete game for the Bulldogs.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Fresno State's defense stepped up on Saturday night, holding Nevada to seven points or fewer in three of four quarters.

The Bulldogs, which have one of the worst pass defenses in the country, managed to hold Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo to just 206 yards passing on the night. Fajardo, who is considered one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the West, did manage to run for 98 yards but only accounted for two touchdowns.

Perhaps more importantly, the defense exhibited bend-but-don’t-break tendencies that will be good enough as long as the offense keeps humming.

Nevada was held to single-digit scoring in all four quarters, including a scoreless second quarter. As is customary with teams trying to preserve a perfect record, things will continue to get more difficult for the Bulldogs from here on out.

It’s really not a cliche for Fresno State, though.

Of the three remaining games on the schedule, two of them are on the road for the Bulldogs (next Saturday at Wyoming and November 29 at San Jose State). The game against San Jose State will be particularly tough; not only would the Spartans love to spoil Fresno State’s quest for perfection, but Ron Caragher’s team could make the Mountain West Conference title game with a victory over the Bulldogs.

San Jose currently sits at 4-1 in the conference, one game behind Fresno State.

For now, Fresno State needn’t look forward too far. Every game will require complete focus, and anything less could compromise reaching the final goal.

Eight down; four to go. The Bulldogs can only deal with one at a time.

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