Fresno St.-Idaho Preview
With a 39-point lead more than halfway through the third quarter last week at Hawaii, the Bulldogs ended up just a Hail Mary away from losing to the winless Rainbow Warriors. They escaped with a 42-37 win, and they'll try to remain one of the country's two undefeated non-automatic BCS qualifiers with a little less drama in Saturday's matchup with the Vandals.
"We've got to stop looking at the scoreboard," Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter said. "The scoreboard is a liar. Our mentality has got to be we're playing this snap and have no appreciation for if we are up 30, down 30. It doesn't matter. Let's just go play."
DeRuyter's team, though, joins Northern Illinois as the only ones from non-BCS conferences without a loss.
Not lost in the near-collapse was the Bulldogs' first 4-0 start since 2001 when current quarterback Derek Carr's brother, David Carr, was under center.
Derek Carr has his team averaging 44.0 points as he's thrown for 14 touchdowns while ranking second in the FBS with 361.3 passing yards per game. He had gone 181 attempts without an interception before throwing two second-half picks that helped Hawaii mount its comeback.
The Bulldogs committed five turnovers for the first time since 2008. They had totaled four through their first three games.
"That's the biggest thing we have to correct, and it's something we take very, very seriously," DeRuyter said. "It's something we drill all the time. ... Derek's interceptions, he knows the mistakes he made on those and he can get those corrected."
His three interceptions have come on 211 attempts. The 52.8 attempts per game is the second-highest average in the country and has also translated into some big receiving numbers.
Davante Adams has 36 catches for 311 yards and four touchdowns. Isaiah Burse has 29 catches for 318 yards and a score despite being ejected in the first quarter last week for targeting on a helmet-to-helmet hit. Josh Harper has 28 catches for 264 yards and six TDs.
Carr's 324 passing yards tied him with his brother for the most 300-yard games in school history with 13. His offense has put up 40 points in nine consecutive regular-season contests.
The Bulldogs, though, have been outscored in the fourth quarter by 42 points in their last three games. They blew a 15-point lead in the second half against Boise State on Sept. 20 before pulling out a 41-40 win.
"I think our team has been tested a few times now and shown resolve," DeRuyter said. "When we have to get stops - there's three games now we had to get a stop to finish a game - and three times our defense stood up when they had to to make those stops. Obviously there's things we've got to get cleaned up, but the resolve our guys show, I was pleased with."
The Bulldogs are allowing 38.3 points per game, including 51 in an overtime win over Rutgers on Aug. 29.
Idaho (1-4) also survived a comeback Saturday to beat Temple 26-24 after being outscored by an average of 29.5 points in their first four games.
"We played a good defensive game in first half, but we missed some big tackles in the second half," coach Paul Petrino said. "We came out and looked soft defensively to start the half. We can't do that. We need to keep pushing and get better."
Freshman Chad Chalich threw for 310 yards and a touchdown with 114 rushing yards. He has four TDs without an interception in 150 attempts.
"I think they're a team with some momentum," DeRuyter said. "They're playing with a lot of excitement. ... Anytime you've got a quarterback threat that can do both - throw it well and run - it gives your defense a challenge."
Fresno State has won nine straight over Idaho, including the last seven by an average of 18.1 points. The teams last met Sept. 24, 2011, when Carr threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-24 win.