The happiest team in the country to begin conference play may have been the Fresno State Bulldogs. After starting the season with three blowout losses to power five conference teams and a win over FCS Southern Utah, the Bulldogs beat their first FBS team of the season last week when they bested New Mexico. This week, the Bulldogs host San Diego State. The Aztecs also won their conference opener last week by beating UNLV. This is a big game for Mountain West Conference West Division potential tiebreakers as one of these two or Nevada is almost a lock to win that division.
San Diego State vs. Fresno State College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday October 3, 10:00 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: Fresno State -3
San Diego State is 2-2 SU/ATS this season and Rocky Long is now 27-16 straight up and 22-20-1 against the number in his second tenure at San Diego State. Long is 9-6-1 ATS as an underdog and the Aztecs have played well in both underdog spots this season, at North Carolina and at Oregon State. Fresno State is just 6-11-1 ATS over Tim DeRuyter’s last 18 games after he started 11-2 ATS during the 2012 season. The Bulldogs were 6-0 ATS when favored at home in 2012, but are just 3-5 ATS since.
San Diego State Aztecs:
The Aztecs seemed to suffer a post-UNC hangover in their 28-7 loss to Oregon State, the only game this season in which they scored less than 27 points. San Diego State has found a strong running game on the legs of Donnel Pumphrey, who has amassed 465 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Without Pumphrey, SDSU may not be scoring at all this season. Quinn Kaehler has just two touchdowns against six interceptions and wide receiver Ezell Ruffin has missed time with injury. The Bulldogs defense hasn’t stopped the run this season at all, so that should help the Aztecs. As for SDSU’s defense, Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 scheme has held some decent opponents down and the Aztecs could post their sixth straight season allowing less than 400 yards per game.
Fresno State Bulldogs:
The Fresno State offense seems to have gotten on track behind junior college transfer Brian Burrell. It’s been a transitional phase for the Bulldogs with the losses of Derek Carr, Isaiah Burse, and Davante Adams. The degree of difficulty was very high for the Bulldogs in the early going with games against USC, Utah, and Nebraska with a porous defense and a retooled offense. Perception is clearly down on the Bulldogs and they’re fighting to get their image back. The defense improved with games against Southern Utah and New Mexico, but those are hardly offensive powerhouses. With 10 returning starters from last season, the Bulldogs should have looked a bit better than they have. San Diego State presents a big challenge stopping the run, something that the Bulldogs have failed to do most of this season.
Free Pick: Fresno State -3
The Bulldogs were soundly beaten by three vastly superior opponents to start the season and everybody jumped ship as fast as they could. Money came in on New Mexico late last week and the Bulldogs covered with relative ease. The Aztecs have an impressive loss at North Carolina, but they also have a one-dimensional offense and a Bulldogs team looking for revenge to deal with this week. The Bulldogs are better than they’ve shown and comparable competition will prove that.
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