Nov 25, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Mikey Keene (1) throws a pass against the San Diego State Aztecs during the first half at Snapdragon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Fresno State, minus head coach, stumbles into New Mexico Bowl

Fresno State finished the regular season with a three-game losing streak that ended its hopes for a potential 10-win season and a more prestigious bowl bid.

Now the Bulldogs go into the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday in Albuquerque without their coach for their matchup with New Mexico State.

Jeff Tedford announced on Dec. 1 that he was stepping away from the program to address personal health concerns. Assistant head coach and linebackers coach Tim Skipper will run the team for the bowl game.

In the second year of a five-year contract, Tedford led Fresno State (8-4) to an 8-1 start that included a win at Purdue in the season opener and a Top 25 ranking early in the season. Dating back to a nine-game winning streak that ended 2022, the Bulldogs were 17-1 before their late skid.

With Tedford away, Skipper has the responsibility of extracting a winning effort out of a team that ended the regular season by being blown out 33-18 at San Diego State on Nov. 25.

“The transition (to life without Tedford has) been as good as it can be because of the support staff and these players,” Skipper said. “Everybody is bought in. We all know we got a higher sense of urgency. We gotta have attention to detail and the people that surround me are awesome. It’s made everything a lot easier than it could be.”

Fresno State will need a big game from quarterback Mikey Keene, who threw for 2,596 yards and 21 touchdowns in the regular season despite missing time with a concussion. He was intercepted nine times.

Erik Brooks caught 55 passes for 711 yards and five touchdowns, leading four Bulldogs with at least 44 receptions. Malik Sherrod carried the load in the rushing game with 876 yards and nine scores on 152 carries.

Meanwhile, the Aggies (10-4) will try to cap off one of the best seasons in school history with their second win of 2023 in Albuquerque. On Sept. 16, they made the trip north from Las Cruces and stopped New Mexico 27-17.

After losing the following week at Hawaii, New Mexico State embarked on an eight-game winning streak that included the school’s first-ever win over an SEC team, a 31-10 thumping at Auburn on Nov. 18. The Aggies reached the Conference USA title game but lost 49-35 at Liberty.

Still, New Mexico State added to the resume of veteran coach Jerry Kill as one of the ultimate program-builders. He oversaw just the second 10-win season in program history and is in line for a contract extension that would include a raise from his current $600,000 deal.

A more immediate concern to Kill might be the status of starting quarterback Diego Pavia, who threw for 2,915 yards, rushed for 851 yards and had a hand in 32 touchdowns this year. However, Pavia left the game at Liberty with an upper-body injury.

“He is the toughest kid I’ve ever been around — and I have coached for 40 years,” said Kill, who was confident Pavia would be ready to face the Bulldogs.

Fresno State leads the all-time series 18-1, with the Aggies’ only win coming in 2011.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Wyoming Cowboys quarterback Andrew Peasley (6) warms up before game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Wyoming holds on for 24-19 upset over No. 24 Fresno St.

Cole Godbout’s tipped-ball interception with 46 seconds left Saturday night quashed Fresno State’s last-ditch comeback as Wyoming upset the No. 24 Bulldogs 24-19 in Laramie, Wyo.

Godbout, a defensive lineman, tipped Logan Fife’s pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it 23 yards to the Fresno State 25. Two kneel downs later, the Cowboys (5-1, 2-0 Mountain West Conference) had snapped Fresno State’s 14-game winning streak, the second-longest streak in FBS prior to game time, dating to last year.

Andrew Peasley completed 19 of 27 passes for 183 yards and three second quarter touchdowns for Wyoming, which also got 83 yards on 22 rushes from Harrison Waylee.

Mikey Keene threw for 218 yards on 23 of 35 accuracy for the Bulldogs (5-1, 1-1) before leaving with a leg injury in the fourth quarter. Fife was 7 of 11 for 68 yards, including a scrambling 8-yard touchdown pass to Mac Dalena with 5:17 left in the game that got Fresno State within one score.

While Fresno State entered with the high-powered offense, it was Wyoming that executed flawlessly when it had the ball in the first half. The Cowboys held the ball for more than seven minutes on their first drive, getting a 34-yard field goal from John Hoyland.

They started scoring touchdowns after that, beginning with Peasley’s 14-yard strike to Wyatt Wieland on the first play of the second quarter. The Bulldogs responded with Keene’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Moss at the 11:17 mark that got them within 10-7.

But the half’s remainder was all Wyoming.

Peasley and Wieland hooked up again for a 4-yard scoring strike to cap a 75-yard drive with 6:42 remaining. That was followed by an 88-yard march that saw Peasley find Treyton Welch with a 12-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds left for a 24-7 lead at the break.

And the stats made it look even more one-sided. The Cowboys owned a 249-107 advantage in total yardage, plus a 22-4 advantage in first downs.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Fresno, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Mikey Keene (1) throws a pass against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the first quarter at Valley Children's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Bolstered by dominant defense, No. 24 Fresno State visits Wyoming

If the first thing fans want to think about with No. 24 Fresno State is offense, that’s fine. With UCF transfer Mikey Keene throwing for an average of nearly 300 yards per game, the Bulldogs are chipping in 36.4 points a game.

But if fans want the real reason why Fresno State is undefeated and has a legitimate possibility to earn the Group of Five’s New Year’s Day bowl berth, one might want to look at the defense. In the last three games, all blowout wins, it has permitted only 19 points, with a shutout of Arizona State starting that stretch.

The Bulldogs (5-0, 1-0) will try to make it six wins in a row and take a big step toward a Mountain West Conference title Saturday night when they visit Wyoming (4-1, 1-0) in Laramie.

Making Fresno State’s recent stretch of dominance even more impressive is that the defense was missing three starters last week at home in the team’s conference opener against Nevada. Fresno State didn’t allow a touchdown until 11 seconds remained in a 27-9 win.

Over the past three contests, the Bulldogs have been on the field for 35 possessions. They have forced 11 three-and-outs and 10 turnovers — eight against Arizona State — while permitting only two touchdowns. Opponents are averaging only 282 total yards per game.

“The defense played excellent the whole game,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said after the win over Nevada. “I thought they did a nice job pressuring the passer and played good in the secondary … got two picks, so that was nice. They did a nice job of flying around.”

Keene contributed 269 passing yards and tossed his 13th and 14th touchdown passes of the year. Both scoring strikes went to Jaelen Gill, a Boston College transfer whose 28 receptions are one more than he had all of last season.

Meanwhile, Wyoming started Mountain West play last week by stopping New Mexico 35-26. The Cowboys exhibited good offensive balance, running for 239 yards and throwing for 194, and used explosive plays to break open a close game in the third quarter.

Harrison Waylee ran for a 46-yard touchdown, and Andrew Peasley hooked up with Ayir Asante on a bubble screen for a 66-yard score. Asante ran across the field to find open space and then evaded multiple tacklers to give Wyoming a 29-12 lead after three quarters.

“There were some explosive plays we made today, which I was really pleased with,” Cowboys coach Craig Bohl said. “The game had a lot of ebbs and flows, and so we are going to take this win. I was really concerned coming into this game.”

One thing that doesn’t concern Bohl is kicker John Hoyland, who hit four field goals against New Mexico, the fourth time in his career he’s done that. Bohl said Hoyland, who has hit 53 of 61 attempts while at Wyoming, is the best kicker in the country.

Fresno State leads the teams’ series 9-5, including a 30-0 win last November in California.

–Field Level Media

Fresno State Bulldogs defensive lineman Jacob Holmes (23) recovers a fumble by Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Drew Pyne (10) in the first half at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Sept. 16, 2023.

Fresno State shuts out Arizona State in lopsided victory

Fresno State placekicker Dylan Lynch and cornerback Carlton Johnson tied school records with Lynch’s five made field goals and Johnson’s three interceptions in the Bulldogs’ 29-0 victory Saturday over an injury-riddled Arizona State team at Tempe, Ariz.

Arizona State, playing under first-year coach Kenny Dillingham, was shut out at home for the first time since 1988, when USC beat the Sun Devils 50-0.

It is the first time Arizona State was blanked since USC beat the Sun Devils 28-0 in Los Angeles in 2008.

The Sun Devils (1-2) had eight turnovers in their 13 possessions.

Fresno State (3-0) increased its winning streak to 12 games, the second longest in the nation behind Georgia’s run of 20 consecutive wins.

The Bulldogs, who opened the season with a win at Purdue, have also defeated two Power 5 teams in the same season for the first time since 2018.

Starting quarterback Jaden Rashada did not suit up for Arizona State because of an undisclosed injury.

Trenton Bourguet, who started in Rashada’s place, left in the first quarter with a leg injury.

Third-string quarterback Drew Pyne, a transfer from Notre Dame, also left the game with an undisclosed injury after throwing two interceptions while completing 5 of 13 pass attempts for 52 yards.

Jacob Conover, a transfer from BYU, finished the game and was 6 of 16 for 89 yards and two interceptions.

Fresno State quarterback Mikey Keene, a Central Florida transfer who is from nearby Chandler, Ariz., tied a career high with 32 completions in 48 attempts.
He threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Erik Brooks had 11 receptions for 104 yards for the Bulldogs.

Keene led the Bulldogs on a touchdown drive in the first possession of the game.

The eight-play, 75-yard drive was capped by Keene’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Moss.

Lynch made field goals of 39, 30 and 29 yards the rest of the first half to take a 16-0 lead into halftime.

Keene connected with Jaelen Gill for a 42-yard touchdown to complete Fresno State’s first possession of the second half.

Lynch later converted from 50 and 33 yards.

–Field Level Media

Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Mikey Keene (1) throws the ball ahead of the NCAA football game against the Purdue Boilermakers, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. Fresno State Bulldogs won 39-35.

Fresno State takes 11-game winning streak to Arizona State

Beating two Power 5 opponents in the same season for the first time since 2018 is Fresno State’s goal when it visits Arizona State on Saturday.

The last time the Bulldogs pulled off the feat, the Sun Devils were one of their victims.

The Bulldogs defeated UCLA and Arizona State in 2018 and won their season opener at Purdue on Sept. 2.

Fresno State is also on an 11-game winning streak, the second longest in the nation behind Georgia (19 straight wins).

The Bulldogs (2-0) are coming off a double-overtime 34-31 victory over FCS opponent Eastern Washington at home.

Levelle Bailey came up with the game-winning interception in the second overtime to seal the victory.

Fresno State was a 30.5-point favorite entering the game.

“Give (Eastern Washington) a lot of credit. They did a lot of really good things and we didn’t play our best,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said. “We were behind the sticks a lot, penalties and things like that put us in some tough situations. But this is a good wake-up call for us. It’s tough to bounce back and come home (after winning at Purdue). I need to do a better job making sure we’re ready to play.”

Arizona State (1-1) is coming off a 27-15 loss at home against Oklahoma State.

The Sun Devils’ offensive line was dealt another devastating blow with senior right tackle Emmit Bohle suffering a season-ending lower-leg injury in the first drive of the game.

Starting left tackle Isaia Glass and guard/center Cade Briggs did not play because of leg injuries.

Offensive lineman Ben Coleman has yet to play this season while recovering from a serious lower-leg injury suffered before preseason camp.

Tackle Aaron Frost is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered last August and has yet to play.

“Obviously that position has been decimated with injuries, unfortunately,” Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham said of his offensive line. “Some (injuries were by) contact, some non-contact, some running in the offseason.

“Emmit’s going to be out for the season, unfortunate for him. What a great person. What a great worker.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA;  Fresno State Bulldogs defensive back Evan Williams (32) pulls on the jersey of Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward (1) for a sack in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Fresno State rolls against Washington State, wins LA Bowl

Jordan Mims rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns and Jake Haener threw for two touchdowns in Fresno State’s 29-6 domination of Washington State in the LA Bowl on Saturday in Los Angeles.

It put a glamorous finishing touch on the season for Fresno State (10-4), which won its final nine games.

Mims needed just 18 carries to amass his rushing total, compiling all except 12 yards of Fresno State’s rushing total.

Haener completed 24 of 36 passes for 284 yards.

Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward was 22-for-32 for 137 yards and an interception. The Cougars were limited to 45 rushing yards.

It was the first meeting between the teams since 1994, and the Bulldogs, who were coming off a Mountain West Conference championship, were much more in tune.

The Cougars (7-6) ended their first full season under coach Jake Dickert with back-to-back losses following a three-game winning streak.

Washington State didn’t score until Nakia Watson’s 1-yard run with 3:40 left in the third quarter. A two-point conversion play failed, leaving the score at 16-6.

Fresno State answered in the ensuing possession, going 75 yards in six plays to score on Haener’s 11-yard pass play to Nikko Remigio.

Mims tacked on a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Remigio ended up with a team-high 84 receiving yards.

Fresno State led 16-0 at halftime and the statistics might have suggested a larger lead.

In the first half, the Bulldogs outgained Washington State 289-59 and held a 17-5 edge in first downs.

Fresno State scored on the game’s first possession when Haener threw 22 yards to Zane Pope to complete a 75-yard march that took slightly more than three minutes.

After Washington failed to convert on a fourth-and-1 from its own 23-yard line, the Bulldogs stretched the lead in the second quarter. Mims ran 3 yards for a touchdown.

Less than two minutes later, Leonard Payne Jr. sacked Ward for a safety.

–Field Level Media

Dec 3, 2022; Boise, Idaho, USA;  Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener (9) rolls out during the first half of the Mountain West Championship game versus the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

In LA clash, Fresno State eyes 10 wins vs. Washington State

Fresno State has delivered a fantastic season, particularly with the way the past couple of months have gone.

Now it’s a matter of finishing in style for the Bulldogs.

That opportunity comes Saturday against Washington State in the LA Bowl in Los Angeles.

“From being counted out at 1-4 to having the chance to bring this program 10 wins is awesome for us,” Fresno State senior defensive back Evan Williams said.

Fresno State (9-4), which is the Mountain West Conference champion, has won eight games in a row.

For Washington State (7-5), this will wrap up the first full season under coach Jake Dickert.

“We’re looking forward for the chance to send our seniors out on a winning note,” Dickert said.

No college team has begun with a 1-4 record and ended up with a 10-win season, something that Fresno State will try to pull off.

“The hard work that we’ve put in, we definitely feel that’s why we’re here,” receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper said. “We had all our goals in front of us, and we made sure we checked off all the boxes. Getting that 10th win would add to our legacy.”

Fresno State’s winning streak produced a championship vibe and certainly confidence has been soaring.

Yet Washington State is bound to send out a defense to present challenges.

“They’ve got two good corners and two good safeties.” Moreno-Cropper said. “It’s going to be a good matchup. We just have to trust in the game plan.”

Washington State had some late-season success as well, winning three in a row before a loss to nationally ranked Washington to close the regular season. The Cougars are making their program-record seventh consecutive bowl appearance.

Linebacker Daiyan Henley, an All-Pac-12 first-team selection who played one season with the Cougars, has opted out of the bowl but will be with the team at the game.

With defensive coordinator Brian Ward off to Arizona State, Dickert will oversee the defense.

“I get a chance to call plays again,” Dickert said. “I love being back in the grind.”

Fresno State has won its past three bowl outings and played two other Pac-12 Conference teams this season. The Bulldogs lost to Oregon State and Southern Cal.

Washington State holds a 3-1 edge in the series, though the teams haven’t met since 1994.

This is the second LA Bowl. Utah State beat Oregon State 24-13 last year.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) is pressured by Fresno State Bulldogs defensive end David Perales (99) in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 USC dominates visiting Fresno State 45-17

Austin Jones and Travis Dye each eclipsed 100 yards rushing to fuel a balanced offense, and No. 7-ranked USC overwhelmed visiting Fresno State, 45-17, Saturday in Los Angeles.

The Trojans (3-0) surpassed 500 yards of total offense for the third time in as many games, piling up 517. But while quarterback Caleb Williams stole the show in USC’s first two outings with his passing, this was the Trojans run game’s turn to shine.

Jones went for 110 yards, while Dye added 102, marking the first time since November 2018 two USC ball-carriers reached 100 yards in the same contest. Both scored a rushing touchdown, and both averaged more than nine yards per carry on the night.

Williams, meanwhile, carried for more touchdowns with two than his total net yards of one. He also threw for a pair of scores, including a 2-yard score to Jordan Addison to kick off the game’s scoring.

Addison has caught at least one touchdown in each of his first three games as a Trojan.

Williams also connected with Malcolm Epps on a 10-yard score, part of the quarterback’s 25-for-37, 284-yard passing performance. The USC offense was also excellent on third and fourth downs, going a combined 9-of-15 on conversion attempts.

Fresno State (1-2) came in looking to assert its passing attack behind Jake Haener, but the Bulldogs quarterback went down awkwardly on a sack-fumble by Solomon Byrd in the third quarter.

Haener finished 10-of-18 with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Erik Brooks and an interception. Reserve Logan Fife completed 11-of-12 attempts for 140 yards, but failed to lead a Bulldogs scoring drive.

Jordan Mims rushed for 114 yards in the loss, and Malik Sharrod carried for a 32-yard touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2021; Inglewood, CA, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback Chance Nolan (10) throws the ball against the Utah State Aggies in the first half of the 2021 LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Unbeatens Fresno State, Oregon State set for first clash since 2003

Oregon State visits Fresno State on Saturday night for the teams’ first meeting in nearly 20 years in Fresno, Calif.

Both schools are coming off season-opening victories in which they built large first-half cushions.

The Pac-12 Beavers (1-0) compiled a 24-0 halftime lead en route to defeating visiting Boise State 34-17 on Saturday.

The Mountain West’s Bulldogs (1-0) beat Cal Poly 35-7 at home last Thursday after going ahead 21-0 in the first quarter.

Temperatures in Fresno — which reached 114 on Tuesday — are expected to be in the 90s as the teams clash for the first time since 2003.

“I know how I felt during the game, and it was really hot down there,” said Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener, referring to the 102 degrees at kickoff against Cal Poly. “So people who haven’t experienced it, haven’t been around it, I can only imagine what it’s like coming in trying to play in it for the first time.”

The extreme heat failed to prevent Haener from completing 36 of 42 passes for 377 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs posted 551 yards of total offense.

“It starts with his arm talent. He can throw it and make all the throws accurate,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said of Haener. “I know the kid well. [He’s] tough, good decision-maker, won’t back down to anything.”

Haener’s effort helped transfer wide receiver Nikko Remigio catch nine passes for 100 yards. He finished with a team-high 168 all-purpose yards.

Defensive back Evan Williams led the Bulldogs with eight tackles against Cal Poly. Gavriel Lightfoot became the first Fresno State player to start on the interior defensive line as a true freshman since Russell Harding did in 25 years ago in 1997.

Oregon State’s defense forced Boise State to commit five turnovers. Linebacker Kyrei Fisher-Morris had 10 tackles.

Chance Nolan completed 14 of 23 passes for 251 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Oregon State features a three-way player, as Jack Colletto plays linebacker, fullback and special teams.

“Very balanced, very physical, very well-coached,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said of the Beavers. “Defensively, to come up with five turnovers, they really fly around and play hard.”

The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 8-5, including a 6-0 mark in games played in Fresno.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2021; Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs Jordan Mims (7) runs the ball in for a touchdown against the UTEP Miners defense in the first half at the 2021 New Mexico Bowl at Dreamstyle Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Mims’ three TDs lead Fresno State over UTEP in New Mexico Bowl

Jordan Mims ran for 165 yards and two short touchdowns and added a 22-yard scoring reception as Fresno State did just enough to beat Texas-El Paso 31-24 on Saturday afternoon in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener, who weeks ago put his name in the transfer portal but reversed his tack when Jeff Tedford was hired as the next coach of the Bulldogs, started the game and passed for 286 yards and a score in the victory.

The Bulldogs (10-3) earned their first double-digit victory campaign since 2018 when they went 12-2 and won the Mountain West Conference championship.

Gavin Hardison passed for 252 yards and a touchdown but had two crucial fumbles in the fourth quarter for the Miners (7-6) in the loss. UTEP was denied its first bowl win since the 1967 Sun Bowl, extending the longest postseason victory drought in FBS that includes seven straight defeats in bowl games.

Fresno State drove the field on its opening possession, which culminated in Mims’ 2-yard TD run. Cesar Silva missed the PAT, keeping the score at 6-0 with 12:44 to play in the first quarter. UTEP answered on its first drive, with Trent Thompson hauling in a 1-yard scoring pass from Hardison that, after Gavin Baechle’s extra-point kick, granted the Miners a 7-6 lead.

Silva and Baechle added field goals for their teams from 42 and 38 yards, respectively — the latter of which put UTEP back in the lead at 10-9 with 14:49 to play in the second quarter.

Ronald Awatt’s 1-yard TD run extended the Miners lead to 17-9. But the Bulldogs were strongest over the final two minutes of the half, getting a 1-yard scoring plunge from Mims with 1:52 to play and a 45-yard field goal by Silva with 4 seconds left to take a 19-17 advantage into halftime.

Fresno State added to its lead on a 22-yard TD pass from Haener to Mims with 1:17 to play in the third quarter. But UTEP responded with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Calvin Brownholtz to Thompson to pull back to within 26-24 with 14:10 remaining.

Silva made it a five-point game with his third field goal of the game, a 21 yarder with 9:04 left. Then the Bulldogs added a safety, as Hardison fumbled while being sacked in his own end zone and the loose ball was recovered by UTEP lineman Elijah Klein.

–Field Level Media