New Mexico-Fresno St. Preview
Fresno State has its sights set on busting the BCS. The Bulldogs still have a few goals to achieve before that can happen.
The most immediate is clinching the West Division of the Mountain West, which they can do with a win over struggling New Mexico on Saturday.
The No. 15 Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0) had last week off before continuing their quest for a BCS berth. They had little trouble at Wyoming on Nov. 9, winning 48-10 behind another stellar performance from Derek Carr and their powerful ground attack.
Carr went 33 of 46 for 360 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, and Fresno State got 105 of its 234 rushing yards from Josh Quezada. The Bulldogs are fourth in the country with 384.0 yards per game through the air and fifth in total offense at 546.6.
Carr is averaging 380.1 passing yards and has thrown 32 touchdowns, both good for second in the nation. He's the biggest reason why Fresno State is holding out hope of playing in a BCS bowl despite some skepticism among poll voters.
''I know there's that talk, `Hey, they're only sneaking by people' or whatever, but that really wasn't our goal today,'' coach Tim DeRuyter said. ''Our goal today was just play as well as we can, and we didn't early. And give Wyoming credit for that. But I thought the last three quarters of the game we played pretty well.''
DeRuyter's team is joined by No. 20 Northern Illinois as the only ranked and unbeaten teams not in the top 5 where Alabama, Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State reside. The Bulldogs are among six undefeated Top 25 teams.
Fresno State moved up one spot in the BCS standings to 15th this week. The Bulldogs are the highest-ranked team from a non-automatic qualifying conference, with a solid lead over NIU. By remaining that team, they'll earn an automatic BCS bowl bid by finishing in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or by finishing in the top 16 ahead of a champion from an automatic qualifying conference.
Keeping that hope alive first means defeating New Mexico, which would wrap up the division race and give Fresno State its first 10-win season since it was 11-3 in 2001 - when Carr's brother David was under center for the Bulldogs.
"We still have some unfinished business to do a week later (in the season finale at San Jose State), but I think the fact that we can clinch will be special not only for our players but our ... fans," DeRuyter said.
Derek Carr has continued to put together a career as stellar as that of his brother, as he hasn't thrown an interception in the past four games. He'll be looking to send the Lobos to their fourth straight loss in the series.
Carr passed for 416 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in a 49-32 victory over New Mexico last Oct. 27. Two of those scores went to Davante Adams, who also had 198 yards receiving in the game and was among 10 semifinalists for this year's Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top receiver, announced Monday.
Adams leads the nation with 15 TD catches.
New Mexico (3-7, 1-5) gave up its highest point total of the season last week in a 66-42 defeat to Colorado State. The Lobos closed to within 45-42 at the end of the third quarter before the Rams put up three touchdowns in the fourth to put the game away. Colorado State also made two key fourth-down stops.
"I appreciate the effort," coach Bob Davie told the school's official website of the defense. "It's going to take time. The reality is they shouldn't score 66 points. We couldn't stop them.
"But I saw a lot of positive things. But I'm really proud of these kids. We had so many young kids out there. We have two games left against great offensive teams, so we know what's ahead of us."