Instant Analysis - New Mexico
Wyoming 35 ... Fresno State 28 2OT
It's going to be the common belief that this loss shows how Fresno State
can't get up for the big games against the non-BCS teams, and it might
be an indictment of Pat Hill and how the program is conducted. But the
truth might be harsher than the Bulldogs might want to believe: they're
just not that great.
Fresno State might have been a heavy favorite, and Wyoming might not
have been consistently strong this year, but the New Mexico Bowl ended
up being exactly what it was supposed to be ... if you ignore the
supposed difference in talent and athleticism.
The Bulldogs didn't stop anyone's running game all season long, and
Wyoming ran for 234 yards to 197. They didn't come up with a pass rush
this year (or any time in the past few seasons), finishing dead last in
the nation in sacks, and despite coming up with two sacks of Austyn
Carta-Samuels, didn't generate the pressure in the clutch and allowed UW
to come back late. They were lousy in turnover margin, and they were -1.
But because of wins over bad teams with nice names, like Illinois, and
strong performances in losses to some big teams, like Wisconsin,
everyone appears to be waiting for more. But this is it. This is Fresno
State. It's not going to change.
But also give credit to Wyoming for playing above its head in what might
be a program-changing win. The Cowboys didn't play great, but they
played great when they had to and now this needs to be a springboard for
the Dave Christensen era. Carta-Samuels was strong, WR David Leonard
showed up with a career game, the defensive tackles were tremendous in
overtime, and Wyoming has a bowl win and a winning season.
Watching Fresno State lose in double-overtime to Wyoming was just another reminder of how mediocre Pat Hill’s club has become in recent years.
Didn’t you used to be one of the game’s biggest giant killers? Now, I like Hill and respect the way he attacks difficult schedules, but his program has been stuck in neutral for years. Where are the WAC championships? The Bulldogs haven’t done better than third place in the conference since 2003. How about a decent bowl venue? While Boise State, Utah, BYU, and TCU flirt with BCS bowl games every other year, Fresno State is mired in places like Albuquerque and Boise. Most important, when was the last time that the school was truly relevant, living up to the “anytime, anywhere” mantra? Has it really been eight years since QB David Carr fueled a 6-0 start, including wins over Colorado, Oregon State, and Wisconsin?
Hill is still good for college football and the Fresno State program. He’ll always be good for the Valley. However, can we stop treating his Bulldogs as if they’re this scary little program that’s always one big break or one stretch run from a January bowl game? The reality is that Hill and his team have been more sizzle than steak for quite some time.
1) Fresno State seemed to be destined for bigger and better things when the Bulldogs stood toe-to-toe with USC in a manly, muscular 50-42 loss in November of 2005. Ever since that impressive eight-point defeat against a celebrated college football team (one of the ten best of the past decade), Pat Hill’s program just hasn’t delivered the goods. Sky-high for the spotlight showdowns but depressed when adversity strikes, the Bulldogs haven’t maintained the consistency – emotionally or otherwise – needed to remain a force in the college football world. The problem with this team, year after year, is far more mental than it is physical. That’s why this Albuquerque encounter didn’t deserve a high point value in your local bowl confidence pool.
2) Wyoming, unlike Fresno, shrugged off losses to the likes of Texas and TCU and acted the part of an outfit that was excited to play in a bowl game. With more persistence and passion, Dave Christensen could craft something special in a Mountain West Conference that could become even more competitive in the years ahead. Give this team points – winning points, as it turned out - for displaying the very kind of resilience that’s been so manifestly absent from the Fresno side of the divide ever since the latter stages of 2005. It’s always satisfying to see the hungry team defeat a less inspired opponent in a bowl game, and that’s definitely what happened on a special evening for Cowboy fans in the Land Of Enchantment.