Oct. 18, 2005
College Football Preview: Week 8|
(AP) -- The last time Fresno State went on the road as a ranked team, it lost and fell out of the top 25.
Ranked for the first time since that defeat, the 24th-ranked Bulldogs look to avoid a repeat as they begin a stretch of two straight road games with a Western Athletic Conference matchup with struggling Idaho on Saturday.
Fresno State (4-1, 2-0) was ranked in the preseason poll and moved up to No. 22 before losing 37-34 at Oregon on Sept. 17.
The Bulldogs have won three straight since that loss by an average margin of 30.6 points per game, but now face a two-game road stretch against conference foes. After this game, they visit Hawaii on Oct. 29.
"We have two tough road games ahead of us and it starts at Idaho," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said.
The Bulldogs are led by a high-scoring offense that is fifth in the nation in scoring, averaging 44.6 points per game.
Joe Fernandez caught two touchdown passes from Paul Pinegar, and Fresno State erased an early deficit with 46 consecutive points to defeat Utah State 53-21 last Saturday.
The Bulldogs also took advantage of four Aggies turnovers, scoring 19 points off miscues while controlling the clock and limiting Utah State to 44 yards rushing.
Fresno State's run-heavy offense produced 193 yards rushing, including 97 for Wendell Mathis and 63 for Bryson Sumlin. Both ran for second-half scores.
Pinegar was 10-of-17 for 138 yards, improving to 28-9 in his career as a starter. The senior, who also ran for a touchdown, has thrown 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He ranks seventh nationally in passing efficiency (164.7).
Fernandez finished with five catches for 56 yards, including touchdowns of 7 and 12 yards. He is one of five Fresno State receivers with at least 100 yards receiving.
Fresno State cornerback Richard Marshall was named the defensive player of the week in the WAC while Bulldogs kicker Clint Stitser was named the special teams player of the week.
Marshall returned a fumble for 17 yards and had an interception against Utah State. He leads the conference with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Stitser leads the WAC and is 11th in the nation in scoring with 10.6 points per game.
Idaho (1-5, 1-2) had a bye last weekend after losing 62-14 at Nevada on Oct. 8.
The Vandals, in their first year in the WAC, are allowing 409 yards per game.
"We have to do a better job as coaches getting these guys coming out better," Idaho coach Nick Holt said.
This is the first meeting between these teams since a 30-10 Fresno State victory in 1979. Idaho leads the all-time series 4-3.