Nevada-Fresno St. Preview
Unbeaten Fresno State is atop the West Division of the Mountain West. Maintaining sole possession of that spot means winning Saturday night's matchup with Nevada, which didn't earn a victory in its three October contests.
Coming off two blowouts, the No. 16 Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0) again showed their ability to win close contests their last time out, defeating San Diego State 35-28 in overtime Saturday. Marteze Waller scored on a 1-yard run on his team's first possession of the extra period after Marcel Jensen blocked the potential winning field goal as time expired in regulation.
Fresno State won for the fourth time by seven or fewer points and has gone to OT twice. Its 12-game regular-season winning streak is third longest in the nation behind Ohio State (20) and Northern Illinois (19), and it's won 10 in a row at home and nine straight in conference play.
''You couldn't write this in a script any better,'' the 6-foot-6 Jensen said. ''We've won (four) games now down to the wire. That locker room is full of competitors and when it is crunch time, we are going to compete."
Fresno State is 7-0 for the first time since also opening the 1991 season with seven victories. They haven't won their first eight games since starting 10-0 in 1989.
"This is a resilient group," coach Tim DeRuyter told the school's official website. "We got guys that are going to find a way and it's fun coaching them. I love them."
Derek Carr went 35 of 57 for 298 yards passing and two touchdowns - both in the second half. He had passed for more than 400 yards in three of the previous four games, but San Diego State gave Fresno State trouble with a variety of blitzes.
''It was a wake-up call for us,'' said Carr, who went 11 of 13 for 134 yards and one touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime, and is among the FBS leaders with 2,574 yards through the air.
Another cause for concern was the Bulldogs' ground game, which managed a season-low 43 yards after averaging 240.3 in the previous three games. Fresno State's 524.6 total yards a contest is the seventh-best mark in the country.
The Bulldogs' latest escape left them one game up in the division over UNLV and San Jose State, who meet Saturday.
Fresno State appears to have a good chance to keep its East lead as it faces Nevada (3-5, 2-3), which suffered a sloppy 27-22 home loss to the Runnin' Rebels last week.
The Wolf Pack got 357 yards passing and two touchdowns from Cody Fajardo while totaling 487 yards, but they had 13 penalties for 105 yards, lost one fumble and were intercepted once. Nevada also converted only two of 15 times on third down.
The Wolf Pack have given up an average of 527.3 yards during their three-game skid and are allowing 496.4 on the season, near the bottom of the FBS.
Fajardo has thrown for more than 350 yards in three of his past four games, though he struggled in the last matchup with Fresno State on Nov. 10. He went 21 for 39 for 214 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while being sacked three times in a 52-36 home loss.
Fajardo will be facing a defense led by MWC defensive player of the week Ejiro Ederaine, who recorded a career-high 10 tackles - 4 1/2 for loss - and two sacks against San Diego State, while returning a fumble 78 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Last year's matchup ended Nevada's four-game winning streak in the series. The Wolf Pack have taken the last two meetings at Fresno, the most recent one coming in 2010.