Fresno State-Ole Miss: Six Players That Will Key a Bulldog Victory
The Fresno State Bulldogs are off to a solid 2-0 start after convincing wins over Cincinnati and Utah State in the first three weeks of the season.
They've gotten contributions from several different players on both sides of the ball that have made the Bulldogs look like a team that could crack the Top 25 in the next week or two.
But before they can think about that, they have one of their biggest road games of the year coming up on Saturday, as they will travel to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Rebels of Ole Miss.
This is a Rebels team that has dropped two of its three games against Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt, something that a lot of people never would have predicted at the beginning of this season.
The Bulldog offense is averaging 34.5 points per game, while the defense is giving up 19 points per game. They start slow, but they turn on the jets as the game moves along. They won't be a team that will jump out to a fiery start, so they have to key in on keeping Ole Miss within striking distance and then make their move.
Here are six key players for Fresno State to win over Ole Miss.
No. 6: Logan Harrell
Defensive lineman Logan Harrell is tied for third in the nation in sacks (3), giving Cincinnati's Zach Collaros and Utah State's Diondre Borel all they could handle.
Harrell is just one guy leading the pass rush for the Bulldogs, and he'll need to be even better against another good running quarterback in Jeremiah Masoli.
Keep Masoli from getting outside and taking off and force him to make quick decisions in the pocket, and Harrell will fluster the former Oregon quarterback.
No. 5: Chris Carter
Said to be the fastest defensive lineman in Fresno State history, Chris Carter has been a thorn in the side of any offensive lineman he goes up against.
His speed off the line and his ability to rush off the edge have made every quarterback wonder where he is before every snap.
Partner Carter with Logan Harrell and you've got a dangerous duo on this Bulldog defensive line. They have combined for seven sacks so far this season.
No. 4: Lorne Bell
Arguably the hardest-hitting player on Fresno State's team, safety Lorne Bell will be key to the Ole Miss players not getting behind the Bulldog secondary.
But according to Bryant-Jon Anteola of The Fresno Bee, Bell was walking around practice this week with his right arm in a sling—something that Bulldog fans don't want to hear.
Bell told Anteola, "The shoulder came out then it came back in. But the way it's feeling right now, I should be able to go Saturday. I've got a good range of motion already. We'll see the way it progresses."
The Bulldogs need him healthy, even at 90 percent, for this weekend's game. It would be a huge loss if he's not on the field.
No. 3: Robbie Rouse
Robbie Rouse missed last Saturday's game against Utah State, and it's not certain whether he'll be ready to go for the Bulldogs' game this Saturday against Ole Miss.
Rouse has been dealing with not only a sprained ankle but also an injured shoulder he suffered in their opener against Cincinnati.
He has been running in practice, but the big test will be whether he can sustain hits on that shoulder and make the cutting moves on his ankle. If he can do both of those and be cleared by the trainers, he adds another solid element to Fresno State's running game.
No. 2: A.J. Ellis
With Robbie Rouse out, A.J. Ellis was called on to handle the running back duties against Utah State, and he came up big.
Ellis ran for 165 yards and three scores for the Bulldogs in a 41-24 win over the Aggies in Logan, Utah.
This weekend, with Rouse still questionable for their game against Ole Miss, Ellis may be called upon once more to be the go-to guy.
No. 1: Ryan Colburn
Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn has slowly started to become the quarterback that a lot of Bulldog fans were hoping he would become.
He's another year older and another year more experienced, and that experience is starting to show. Through two games, Colburn has thrown for 396 yards and five touchdowns and has run for another.
This will be a huge test for the second-year starter, especially in front of what's sure to be a sold-out crowd, one that is done seeing its team lose to the likes of Jacksonville State.
If he can keep his composure, trust his receivers, and keep from letting the crowd get to him, he should be just as good as he has been over his first two games.