PERFORMANCE VERSUS EXPECTATION
San Diego State was favored by more than 17 points, so the Bulldogs did surpass pregame expectations. However, the 60 minutes of football was much more lopsided than the score would suggest.
Defensively Fresno State held the Aztecs to their lowest scoring game of the season. A goalline stand on the opening drive played a big part in that result. The Bulldogs’ defense gave up only 17 points despite being on the field for over 37 minutes. They didn’t break, but they did a lot of bending. San Diego State went for 25 first downs and 292 rushing yards, with star running back Donnel Pumphrey Jr. going for 220 yards.
Offensively the ‘Dogs played well below already-low expectations. The Bulldogs managed only three points and only 217 yards. Even when Zack Greenlee and the Bulldogs had under 100 yards at San Diego State last year, they still managed seven points. Fresno State even had to use six offensive linemen and a running back to combat San Diego State’s rush and accommodate Chason Virgil’s pocket presence. Fresno State’s defense did their job to hold SDSU to 17 points and any capable offense could have at least made this a game - instead a 14-point deficit felt like a blowout.
WHERE IT WENT WRONG
There were a few moments you could point to, but overall this game just came down to San Diego State pounding the ball for 60 minutes and Fresno State having no answers on offense. Pumphrey alone finished with 220 yards while the whole Fresno State team had 217.
One play that was especially tough to swallow was the Bulldogs’ fourth-and-eight from the SDSU 36-yard line just before halftime. There was little consequence to go for it or even attempt a long field goal, but instead the punt team was trotted out - and they attempted a fake punt that came as no surprise to SDSU and was intercepted. Another instance came in the fourth quarter when a fourth-and-one attempt became fourth-and-six and a punt after a false start penalty.
WHEN IT WAS OVER
Donnel Pumphrey’s 13-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
As unlikely as it seemed that the Bulldogs could pull of the upset, they trailed by only one touchdown until Pumphrey delivered the knockout blow. Fresno State’s offense punted twice and Virgil threw an interception in the team’s attempt to make up the deficit.
- San Diego State’s 17 point performance was its worst offensive performance of the year.
- Fresno State’s red zone defense had been very inefficient on the season, so making the goalline stand a big moment for the group.
- The defense came away confident in their performance, one of the few signs that the team may be competitive at Utah State.
WHAT IT MEANS
Fresno State falls to 1-6 on the season, leaving little opportunity to make 2016 a redeemable season. The Bulldogs were a few plays away from winning at Nevada and versus Tulsa, but the other five performances have left no optimism that this season can be turned around.
The loss also means that the only way for the Bulldogs to go bowling is to win the last five games consecutively. They will likely be underdogs in at least four, if not all of the remaining games, making it very unlikely. It also means the ‘Dogs are one loss away from making the Zach Kline option irrelevant. The quarterback position is one of the few changes that fans feel can make a difference, but there would be no benefit in playing an outgoing senior if there is nothing left to play for.
Friday evening also appears to be another step toward a change for the program. There was an announced crowd of over 24,000 - possibly 10,000 more than actually showed. At 1-6, there is no reason to expect more than a 2-10 final record, fewer fans in the seats, and an athletic department that will be seeking ways to make a change.
WHAT THE FANS ARE SAYING
“Half the team that was in the huddle stopping to turn and watch the hot dog races when they came on the screen.” - flash802
“Progressively worse the last 3 years.... That's on the staff” - Kaigerugby
“I really feel bad for the players. I could see the disappointment on their faces as I was leaving. They were watching fans like me leaving with about 7 min left. I put 100% of the Blame on CTD.” - tkjr1
“Never in a million years would I ever imagined talking about a 1-6 Bulldog team at any point, let alone in just our third removed from back to back titles.” - MisterHand
“I certainly thought there was no chance to cover the spread, but something is wrong with SDSU. Horton is going to ride Pumphrey win or lose.” - SJMDog