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A Look at Fresno State's Opening Football Matchup at Purdue
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By Associated Press
Published 7 months ago on
September 1, 2023

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Line: Purdue by 4 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Defending Big Ten West champion Purdue opens a new era with first-year coach Ryan Walters, new starting quarterback Hudson Card, and new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s Air Raid system. The Boilermakers also renovated Ross-Ade Stadium for its centennial season. While the details of Purdue’s new offense have been kept under wraps, fans anticipate a festive grand opening.

Jeff Tedford begins his fifth season as Fresno State’s coach trying to build off the momentum of ending last season with the FBS’ third-longest active winning streak (nine) and avoiding 2022’s 1-4 start.

KEY MATCHUP

Walters vs. Tedford. Purdue flipped the script by hiring the former Illinois defensive coordinator. Walters is the school’s first head coach with extensive defensive experience from outside the program since 1973. Tedford’s teams typically rely on winning shootouts. Last season, he again had one of the Mountain West’s top offenses, as well as a stout defense.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Fresno State QB Mikey Keene

Fresno State: QB Mikey Keene. Tedford’s penchant for developing quarterbacks could make Keene the next big name. He replaces NFL-bound Jake Haener, a three-year starter. Keene is not exactly untested. He went 8-3 as UCF’s starter last season. Keene’s success — and that of the defending Mountain West champs — will depend largely on how smoothly Keene adapts to Tedford’s system.

Purdue: Hudson Card. With sixth-year quarterback and two-time all-Big Ten honoree Aidan O’Connell also off to the NFL, Walters plucked the former Texas prep star from the transfer portal. Card’s mobility will give the Boilermakers’ high-flying offense a new element. Card hopes to re-establish himself at Purdue’s “Cradle of Quarterbacks” after starting just two games in three seasons with the Longhorns.

FACTS & FIGURES

Fresno State was picked third in the Mountain West preseason poll, trailing Boise State and Air Force. … The 2,222-mile trip to Purdue is scheduled to be the longest road trip the Bulldogs make this season. … Purdue RB Devin Mockobee went from walk-on to record-setting freshman last season. It was good enough to make him a scholarship player this season. … Fresno State hasn’t played a Big Ten foe since 2019 when it lost to Minnesota in overtime. But the program owns 40 all-time wins over power conference schools including at least one each of the past two seasons. … The Boilermakers have won 22 of their last 25 home openers.

 

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