Maybe it was good thing Fresno State football’s new Number-One fan Ken Jeong couldn’t attend.
First, the actor wouldn’t be able to buy a ticket — the game was a sellout. Second, he would be disappointed like the rest of the 40,000-plus who saw rival Boise State build a 13-0 lead and score another 27 unanswered points for a 40-14 victory.
The Bulldogs, ranked 23rd in the College Football Playoff poll, lost for the same reason other football teams lose — turnovers, penalties, and facing a strong opponent. Except for a brief time in the second quarter, the momentum was all Boise State (5-4, 3-2 Mountain West).
“That’s not how we obviously expected that to go tonight. I guess it’s just simply… it’s on all of us together and starts with me and we’ve got to be better and kind of coach better and get our guys in the right mindset,” head coach Kalen DeBoer said. “We have to flush this game.”
Jake Haener threw three interceptions — the Broncos converted a first-quarter pick into a touchdown. Another errant pass was caught by Boise State in the end zone.
Fresno State committed a season-high 11 penalties.
One penalty wiped out a potential pick-six that would have been a momentum turner. Another negated a long Ronnie Rivers run, stalling out a first quarter drive. And, a third quarter roughing the quarterback flag allowed Boise State to take a field goal off the board and score a touchdown instead.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get things rolling. We make a play and then, you know, at some point in the drive a turnover or a negative play penalty. And you know, it’s just frustrating and our guys are frustrated,” DeBoer said.
The overall offensive numbers told the story. Boise State racked up 470 total yards. Fresno State played well under its season averages, with only 356 yards — 279 passing and 77 rushing. Heading into Saturday, Fresno State averaged 480 yards a game.
The loss creates a difficult path for Fresno State (7-3, 4-2 MWC) to win the West division. Both San Diego State (7-1, 3-1 MWC) and Nevada (6-2, 3-1 MWC) would have to lose again in conference play (the Aztecs and Wolf Pack play each other next week). Both teams were still in action when this story was published. The Bulldogs will almost assuredly cede their rankings in the CFP poll, as well as the #25 slot in the AP Top 25.
Falling Behind 13-0
Boise State found a way to quiet the sold-out Red Wave fan base, taking advantage on a variety of Fresno State mistakes to start the game. The Bulldogs went for it on 4th & 2 and failing on the first drive, allowing the Broncos to respond with a field goal. A Jake Haener interception led to another Broncos score, this time a touchdown. A penalty on a seemingly long run by Rivers killed another Bulldog drive with Boise responding with another field goal.
It was the defense that gave Fresno State a brief taste of that elusive momentum after falling behind 13-0.
It was both Third Down- and Fourth Down Thunder when the Bulldogs defense stuffed Boise State on a 4th & 1 at the Bulldogs 45 in the second quarter. When Fresno State took over on downs, the returning Ronnie Rivers provided the spark. The running back, who missed last week with an injury, ran for 29 yards on three carries. Jake Haener found Keric Wheatfall for the final 10 yards and a touchdown.
The defense had its moments. An interception on a ill-advised double pass thwarted another deep Boise drive. But quarterback Hank Bachmeier threw for 283 yards and a touchdown.
Jeong Here in Spirit
Ken Jeong, best known for his role in the “Hangover” movie series, became a favorite of Bulldog players when he picked them to beat San Diego State last week on ESPN Gameday. He recorded a video, first aired yesterday on ESPN programming, that played on the Bulldog Stadium video board sending his regrets that he could not be there in person, but cheered on Fresno State nonetheless.
The actor also tweeted during the game, sharing video from the stadium.
So sorry I can’t be there! #GoDogs @FresnoStateFB • RT @JacksonMoore247 Fresno State sellout crowd gives a roar for Ken Jeong’s video message: #FresnoState #GoDogs @BarkBoard @kenjeong pic.twitter.com/jXqgXtiGNJ
— Ken Jeong (@kenjeong) November 6, 2021