Being a college football fan, there are a few things we look forward to during any given season. The rivalry games.
For Fresno State, you can always circle two or three games on the calendar year in and year out. One of those is the game against Western Athletic Conference powerhouse, Boise State.
There isn't a Fresno State fan anywhere, whether it be in California's central valley, southern California or in another state entirely, that won't circle this game and talk about the potential for a win. Finally.
Every year the debate begins and every year the result is normally the same. A loss.
Since the two teams moved into the Western Athletic Conference, Boise State has won eight of the nine match-ups including a streak of four straight dating back to 2006. That streak could become five straight when the two teams play each other next weekend in Boise.
The problem a lot of Bulldog fans have is, most seasons end up just like any other. A lot of promise at the start but it ends in disappointment.
I hate to use this season as an example, but it's been set up too perfectly for me not to. Heading in to 2010, the Bulldogs had non-conference games against Cincinnati, Ole Miss, Cal Poly and Illinois. It looked good before the season, but hasn't looked quite as good now.
Cincinnati would have been a good win last year, a win this year looks no better than their win over Cal Poly. However, getting a win over Ole Miss would have looked just a little more than lackluster at the time, especially since they were the same team that lost to Jacksonville State.
The Rebels had lost two of their first three games against the aforementioned Jacksonville State as well as losing to Vanderbilt. This looked like a game that the Bulldogs could actually go on the road and win. However, Fresno State went to Oxford and got run. Another loss to a good team despite their 4-5 record through nine games.
I'm not saying the Bulldogs don't have a respectable record so far because 6-2 is nothing to sneeze at. But here's the problem, five of their six wins have come against teams with losing records. Their only win against a team with an above-.500 record is Cal Poly, though I'm not sure that's saying much.
Their two losses on the season came against Ole Miss (4-5) and Hawaii (7-3). What comes next for this team will be two games that can prove there will be more of the same, or show that something is changing. Something that can show the fans that things are getting better.
First up this coming weekend will be a visit from the Nevada Wolfpack, who are ranked 21st in the BCS poll released last Sunday evening. This is the same Nevada team that ran over Fresno State with a steamroller and, just for good measure, backed over them with a dump truck.
The bad news, Nevada has only gotten better since last year. Not something that Bulldog fans want to hear.
It's not completely impossible for Fresno State to win this game on Saturday night; however, their defense has a hard time stopping the run. Guess what Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick can do, and do well? You guessed it. Run.
Growing up in Fresno I've wanted to see this team succeed year in and year out. But what I've seen from them, at least over the last three or four years, is picking up wins against bad teams and losing against the good teams.
It makes this football team nothing better than mediocre. Is it the talent? Is it the recruiting? Or is it the coaching?
I've never been a guy that has ever called for a coach to be fired and I won't do it this time around. I've been a fan of Pat Hill since he was hired by the university back in 1998. I respect that he makes his players focus on their performance in the classroom before they concentrate on their performance on the football field.
I respect that he holds his players accountable for their actions. His players are succeeding, but not on the field.
Bulldog fans are tired of watching their team finish 9-3 or even 8-4 only to lose against a 6-6 Wyoming team as they did last year in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl. Just going to a bowl game isn't good enough—they should be able to strive for more.
This team has four games left on their schedule: Nevada, Boise State, Idaho and Illinois. If their performance in past years holds true in 2010, another 8-4 finish to the year and "just another bowl game" is all this team has to look forward to.
While people know Fresno State and Pat Hill by their "Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime," mantra, at the end of the year, what are they really known for?