Fresno State hopes to pass UCF in rank­ings

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS FRIDAY - By Tim Booth

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Even dur­ing the years that Fresno State has been a power pro­gram in the West, it has never found a way to get the best of Boise State on the blue turf. The only time the Bull­dogs have ever beaten the Bron­cos in Boise, the field was still green.

This may be the best op­por­tu­nity for the 16th-ranked Bull­dogs to fi­nally end their skid when they face Boise State on Fri­day night. Fresno State has joined UCF and Utah State among the best of the Group of Five teams and the most likely to land in one of the New Year’s Six bowl games.

“I think their team is re­ally good and it’s very loud there and it’s a hos­tile en­v­i­ron- ment but the color of the turf, I hope we’re not look­ing down at the turf,” Fresno State coach Jeff Ted­ford said.

Tak­ing down the Bron­cos would pro­vide Fresno State (8-1, 5-0 MWC) with a lit­tle bit of redemp­tion fol­low­ing last year’s 17-14 loss to Boise State in the Moun­tain West cham­pi­onship game. More im­por­tant, it would keep the Bull­dogs in line for a pos­si­ble con­fer­ence ti­tle game clash with Utah State, un­ranked in the play­off poll but No. 14 in the lat­est As­so­ci­ated Press top 25 poll. The win­ner could po­ten­tially land a big-money bowl op­por­tu­nity should No. 12 UCF stum­ble in the fi­nal month.

Fresno State has thumped its op­po­nents by an aver­age mar­gin of vic­tory of 32.5 points, but it hasn’t faced the best com­pe­ti­tion yet. The Bull­dogs’ nine op­po­nents have a com­bined record of 35-49.

While most of the big­ger im­pli­ca­tions in­volve the Bull­dogs, a win by Boise State (7-2, 4-1) would keep the Bron­cos in line for a matchup with Utah State in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale — also in Boise — and that could land the Bron­cos back in the con­fer­ence ti­tle game for the sec­ond straight year and third time over­all.

“Just a very good team. Very solid in what they do. And they’ve been very con­sis­tent in what they do week in and week out,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.

Here are other things to know about the 21st matchup be­tween the schools:

Some­thing about McMaryion: Fresno State QB Mar­cus McMaryion is qui­etly hav­ing one of the best sea­sons of any quar­ter­back in the coun­try. McMaryion is ninth in the coun­try in passer rat­ing at 165.4. He’s thrown 20 touch­downs against just three in­ter­cep­tions and has added an­other seven touch­downs run­ning. He strug­gled last year in the Moun­tain West ti­tle game against Boise State, com­plet­ing just 16 of 34 passes and throw­ing an in­ter­cep­tion in the 17-14 loss.

Ryp it: Boise State quar­ter­back Brett Ryp­ien will likely place him­self at the top of the Moun­tain West all-time pass­ing records against the Bull­dogs. Ryp­ien needs 36 yards pass­ing to be­come the con­fer­ence’s ca­reer pass­ing leader. Ryp­ien has 12,655 yards, trail­ing only San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley on the con­fer­ence all-time list. Ryp­ien also needs just five com­ple­tions to pass Lindley for the most com­pleted passes in con­fer­ence his­tory.

Strength vs. strength: The Bull­dogs bring the No. 1 scor­ing de­fense, pass­ing de­fense and third-down de­fense to the blue turf to face a Boise State pass­ing at­tack that is tops in the con­fer­ence and ranks 11th na­tion­ally. The Bull­dogs have built their re­sume stop­ping the pass against some of the weaker pass­ing teams in the Moun­tain West.

In­jury wor­ries: Boise State lost lead­ing tack­ler Ri­ley Whim­pey to a torn ACL suf­fered in last week’s win over BYU. He’s the third de­fen­sive starter to be lost for the sea­son, join­ing de­fen­sive tackle David Moa and safety DeAn­dre Pierce.

JOHN LOCHER/AP

Fresno State’s Kwami Jones cel­e­brates with Jasad Haynes (93) af­ter sack­ing UNLV’s quar­ter­back on Nov. 3.

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