Everyone inside the Duncan Athletic Building knew last week’s loss to Boise State was ugly.
“Those guys are absolutely crushed. They’re embarrassed and really hurt,” said offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb on how the team felt.
Head coach Kalen DeBoer agreed.
“There is no one more disappointed than these guys. They’re the ones that invest all week long and hours and hours of film work, practice time, treatments to be able to even get on the football field,” DeBoer said.
Now, the Bulldogs are picking up the pieces for Saturday’s 4 p.m. contest against New Mexico (4 p.m., TV: Stadium network or Ch. 59 — CW 59) at Bulldog Stadium.
Fresno State (7-3, 4-2 Mountain West) has a chance to play in the conference title game on Dec. 1. It first needs to get by the Lobos (3-6, 1-4 MWC), but a lot could depend on the outcome of other Mountain West matchups.
How to Overcome
DeBoer said the foundation to overcome adversity started last January. Building an atmosphere of trust and accountability make the foundation “rock solid,” he said.
“You’ve heard me talk about the 24-hour rule and that’s a win or loss thing, and we have to move on. And that’s certainly the case here. Tell the Truth Sunday, you hear that being talked about. And so there’s little pieces that we do each and every week that help us get through the really, really good times where it’s over the top awesome. And then the really tough times that we’re going through,” DeBoer said.
DeBoer also channeled his inner-Annie.
“I heard it said different ways, but the sun came up on Sunday. It looked like it barely was coming up, but it came up. We got to look at all the things that are positive and the blessings we do have and keep forging ahead. And these guys love playing football together. They love each other and they get an opportunity to do that. And at this point they are, they’re going to keep fighting,” DeBoer said.
Haener on QB Watch List
Senior quarterback Jake Haener continues to receive national attention, even if his statistics return to human-being level. Haener is a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award.
Haener has thrown for 3,167 yards with 25 touchdowns — both rank in the Top 10 nationally — and a 66% completion rate. He is one of 20 semifinalists for the quarterback award.
Inside a Bulldog Telecast
Saturday’s game won’t be on one of the usual outlets — CBS Sports Network or FS1 — but rather Stadium network and airing locally on CW 59 (Channel 59).
Unlike the game versus Cal Poly that was locally aired and produced, this will feature the Stadium crew and producer Mike Newsham, a 30-year TV veteran.
“Football fans can expect a high-end, high-quality production when watching a live event on Stadium. We employ about 20 crew members that run five cameras, two replay machines — including super slo-mo, graphics, Bally Bar (on-screen score), and audio,” Newsham said.
The producers plan what storylines to cover during the week. What are they looking for on Saturday?
“This week’s main storyline is Fresno State’s path to the Mountain West title game. Fresno QB (Jake Haener) is also an NFL prospect, and the crew will examine his skill set and project him at the next level,” Newsham said.
Last week, as if the loss to Boise State wasn’t bad enough, an ugly fight broke out in the stands. Thousands of fans left early, giving the impression of a less-than-full stadium, despite a sellout.
How will the telecast handle similar issues?
“Stadium producers and directors know that the game and those stories within the game — players, coaches, and universities — are what is most important to the viewer. Our crews focus on the positive stories that come up during a game and not the random negative acts committed by a few careless individuals in the stands. As far as shooting empty seats, we don’t consider it a negative thing if our viewers happen to see a few, but our crews know how to frame the action in order to make a game on Stadium look as professional as possible,” Newsham said.
Still a Chance
Suffering a second conference loss sent the Bulldogs from controlling the west division title to scoreboard watching.
San Diego State and Nevada play each other in Carson (a home game for the Aztecs) Saturday night, guaranteeing at least one of those teams will have two losses. The winner will have to lose one of its remaining games — and the Bulldogs have to win Saturday versus New Mexico and Thanksgiving Day at San Jose State — for Fresno State to claim the west division title.
Fresno State wins a two-way or three-way tiebreaker against San Diego State and Nevada because of head-to-head wins against each team. The Aztecs finish the season with UNLV and Boise State; the Wolf Pack finish with Air Force and Colorado State.
The Dec. 1 Mountain West title game would be hosted by the division winner with the better conference record. Current Mountain division leader Utah State is 4-1 in conference play. The tiebreaker would be head-to-head first; followed by rankings in the College Football Playoff poll with the caveat that the higher ranked team wins in the final week; then a composite of computer polls.
Bowling for Postseason
As far as bowl lineup, since it is not likely a Mountain West team will qualify for the New Year’s Six bowls (the highest ranked “Group of 5” team is guaranteed a spot). The Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl (Dec. 18, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood vs. Pac-12) has the first pick.
The Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Dec. 28, Chase Field in Phoenix) has the next pick, if a Big Ten or Big 12 team does not qualify.
Five other bowls have guaranteed Mountain West tie-ins, with placement based on several factors, including geography and history:
— New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 18, University Stadium in Albuquerque vs. Conference USA);
— Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 21, Albertsons Stadium in Boise vs. MAC);
— Hawai’i Bowl (Dec. 24, Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex in Honolulu vs. AAC);
— Arizona Bowl (Dec. 31, Arizona Stadium in Tucson vs. MAC);
— An ESPN-produced bowl to be determined (either Dec. 17 Cure Bowl in Orlando; Dec. 18 Boca Raton Bowl in Florida, or Dec. 21 Frisco Bowl in Texas).
If there are more Mountain West teams that qualify for a bowl (six wins), they could be sent to a bowl with an at-large bid or a bowl that has an empty slot because a conference did not have enough eligible teams.