Cats add Fresno State to schedule

FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State announced its 2004 football schedule today, which includes non-conference games against two BCS opponents to open the season.

In making the announcement, athletics director Scott Johnson announced that Fresno State has entered into a three-game series with defending Big 12 champion Kansas State. The Bulldogs will play at Kansas State in 2004, with the Wildcats coming to Bulldog Stadium in 2007 and the Bulldogs returning to Manhattan, Kans., for a game in 2008.

Fresno State is playing an 11-game regular season schedule for the second time since 1998. Fresno State's only non-conference home game is against Portland State on Sept. 18. The Bulldogs beat the Vikings 42-16 in 2003 in front of the largest home crowd (39,805) of the season.

The Bulldogs open the season on the road at Washington on Sept. 5, the fifth consecutive season Fresno State has opened on the road against a BCS opponent. The Bulldogs own two straight wins over Pac-10 opponents and have a 17-15 record against teams from the Pac-10 since 1980. The Bulldogs defeated UCLA 17-9 in the Silicon Valley Football Classic, their fifth consecutive bowl appearance under head coach Pat Hill.

Fresno State travels to Kansas State on Sept. 11 in the first of a three-game series between the two schools. The Wildcats, the defending Big 12 Championships, are coming off an 11-4 record and a 35-28 loss to Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats have won 11 games in six of the last seven seasons. Prior to the Fiesta Bowl, the Wildcats were ranked No. 8 in the nation and had a seven-game winning streak at the end of the regular season, with convincing wins at Nebraska and Missouri to win the Big 12 North Division. The Wildcats defeated No. 1 Oklahoma 35-7 in the Big 12 Championship game.

"We are very excited to enter into a three-game series with a program like Kansas State," said Johnson. "The Wildcats have been one of the top programs in the nation over the last decade. It's exciting to get a team of that caliber on our future home schedule. Scheduling is getting tougher and tougher but we are committed to getting quality opponents on our home schedules. There are only two WAC schools right now with more than five home games this upcoming season. However, I'm pleased that our future home schedules have some BCS flavor."

In recent years, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Colorado State have backed out of contracts to come to Bulldog Stadium. The Rams were scheduled to play in Fresno in 2004.

"Bulldog Stadium is a tough place to play," said Johnson. "The success of our team and our home record have made it extremely difficult to get quality opponents to come to Fresno. We will continue to work to get multi-year agreements."

Fresno State has contracts for home games against Colorado State, Kansas, Oregon, San Diego State and Wisconsin before the end of the decade.

The 2004 WAC home schedule features four games, beginning with UTEP on Oct. 9. The Miners, under the direction of first-year coach Mike Price, are making their first visit to Bulldog Stadium since 1999, which was a classic 24-23 Bulldog overtime win. Price, the former head coach at Washington State and Alabama, last coached in the 2002 season, in which he guided the Cougars to a match-up against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Price's last two teams at Washington State racked up a 20-4 record, including a 13-3 record in the Pac-10.

SMU invades Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 30. The Warriors of Hawaii return to Bulldog Stadium on Nov. 13 in a match-up of two of the WAC's top programs over the last five seasons. Hawaii defeated Fresno State 55-28 last season in Honolulu.

Nevada, is expected to again be a high-scoring offensive team under the guidance of Chris Ault, who returns to the sidelines to direct the Wolf Pack after nearly a decade away from coaching. Nevada closes out the home schedule on Nov. 20.

"Putting together the 2004 schedule was a challenge after Colorado State decided to postpone the series and not come to Bulldog Stadium this year," said Johnson. "Being an 11-game season also made it more difficult. However, this did allow us to be able to work out an arrangement with Kansas State. With Washington and Kansas State, we have a tremendous opportunity at the beginning of the season to compete against two highly successful programs. We are happy about that."

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