Utah St.-Fresno St. Preview

While Derek Carr and Fresno State saw their bid for an

undefeated season and a possible BCS bowl come to an end last week,

they still have plenty to play for.

The 24th-ranked Bulldogs try to bounce back from their first

loss Saturday night when they host surging Utah State in the first

Mountain West championship game.

West Division champion Fresno State had outscored opponents by

an average of 19.8 points in winning its first 10 games before

falling 62-52 at San Jose State last Friday. Carr had 519 passing

yards and six touchdowns but also threw a fourth-quarter

interception as the Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1) surrendered 736 yards of

total offense and their most points this season.

The loss ended Fresno State’s chances to beat out Northern

Illinois for a spot in a BCS bowl.

“Put the blame on me for the offense. You guys want to praise me

when it’s good – Heisman this and all this. Blame me for the loss.

I need to do a better job to help my team win,” Carr said after his

conference record of 305 consecutive pass attempts without a pick

was snapped. “We wanted it bad. If you don’t want to do your very

best, to play in a BCS bowl game then you shouldn’t be playing

college football.”

The Bulldogs, who won a share of the Mountain West title in

their first season in the league last year, are quickly moving on

to Utah State (8-4, 7-1). Fresno State has taken five straight and

eight of nine from the Aggies, though Saturday’s clash marks their

first meeting as members of the MWC.

“Guys are tore up, as well they should be,” Carr told the

school’s official website. “This will be easier to put (behind us)

because we are playing for our No. 1 goal, and that’s a conference

championship. It’s so hard to win every game, it really is.”

The Bulldogs are again seeking a school record-tying 11th win.

They are 12-0 at home since the start of last season and haven’t

dropped back-to-back games since Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 2011.

“When you have the type of season we were having – we are having

– it’s rough but we still got bigger goals ahead of us,” said star

wideout Davante Adams, who leads the country with 22 TD receptions.

“Obviously coming into the season our goal was to win the

conference championship, so we still got that ahead of us.”

Fresno State is averaging 47.3 points to rank fourth in the

nation, and Utah State is seventh with 16.8 allowed per game.

“We’ll get their very best shot and they’ll get our very best

shot,” said Aggies coach Matt Wells, whose team has won five

straight. “Our defense has a major challenge on our hands. That

will be a huge part of the game – the No. 1 offense in the Mountain

West against the No. 1 defense in the Mountain West.”

Utah State cruised to a 35-7 rout of Wyoming last Saturday.

Freshman Darell Garretson threw for 156 yards and a season

high-tying three TDs while Joey DeMartino ran for 112 and a

touchdown.

“We had the opportunity to win a Mountain Division championship

and we did it. We won the first rifle,” Wells said. “I think it’s

just another step in this program’s climb. We’re not there yet,

we’re continuing to ascend and give ourselves the chance to

compete.

“We’ve got one more week to finish the drill. … I’d kind of

forgotten we just played Wyoming, because for the last 48 hours all

we’ve been seeing is red and white. The Bulldogs get your attention

really quick.”

The Aggies could have an especially hard time trying to contain

Carr, who leads the FBS with 45 touchdowns and 405.6 passing yards

per game. He has thrown at least one TD pass in 31 straight, the

longest active streak in the country.

“He’s got an NFL arm,” Wells said. “He’s very, very accurate and

he has one of the quickest releases I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen

enough of them to know how good they are.”

Utah State is 2-50 all-time against ranked opponents and 1-39 on

the road after pulling out a 48-41 overtime win at No. 19 Louisiana

Tech on Nov. 17, 2012, in its last such matchup.