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Fresno State preview: dream the impossible dream

Previewing the WAC seems like a good job for an intern. Unfortunately, we do not have an intern. Ugh. Previously: San Jose State and LaTech. Today: Fresno State. 

 Fresno State

 Team motto: "Disappointment is not an option (until November)"

The Fresno State Bulldogs are overrated, overhyped, and in over their heads. What’s new, right?

The national media has named the Bulldogs as WAC favorites despite obvious evidence to the contrary. They have pegged them as potential BCS busters, a title that is routinely placed on Fresno in the preseason only to be unceremoniously ripped from their grasp once conference play begins. And the Bulldogs have scheduled themselves into a fairly large hole with an extremely tough non-conference slate that just screams "2-2."

Still excited about Fresno State? We haven’t even mentioned Tom Brandstater yet. "I can still make a play! DUAN!"

Five questions

What is all the fuss about?

The Fresno fuss comes from a number of different factors. First, the Bulldogs finished strongly last season with wins over Kansas State in a late non-conference clash and Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl (never mind the fact that GT didn’t want to be there). Second, Fresno returns 16 starters from last year’s team, including ten on offense. Third, that offense could be something special with senior QB Tom Brandstater, sophomore RB Ryan Mathews, and senior TE Bear Pascoe. And fourth, the media is dumb.

Where does Pat Hill’s courageous scheduling end and Pat Hill’s detriment to the team begin?

This question should be asked more often. Playing "anyone, anywhere, anytime" is a good motto if you never want to be successful in college football. The true formula for success is playing "the right teams at the right places at the right times" (see Boise State’s 2006 schedule for proof). Pat Hill is systematically screwing his team over year in and year out by giving them an impossible schedule. The players give it their all in non-conference play, never going undefeated, then they have the inevitable letdown once the WAC schedule rolls around. Come on, Pat. Be like everyone else and just schedule Cal Poly and MAC schools.

Tell me a Fresno State weakness that does not rhyme with Schmandstater.

The Bulldogs' front seven was hit the hardest in the offseason, and it remains to be seen how the team will recover. People forget that Fresno had the WAC's defensive player of the year last season in Marcus Riley, which probably means he shouldn't have been WAC defensive player of the year. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs will have to replace him if they hope to stop some of the high-powered WAC offenses...and some of the not-so-high-powered ones.

Who is Chastin West?

West led the team in receiving yards in 2006 before missing last year with a knee injury. The junior wideout is expected to add a deep threat dimension to the Bulldogs' offense, which is too bad considering Brandstater is still the quarterback. At any rate, West and teammates Marlon Moore and Jason Crawley will make the Fresno State receiving corps one of the most balanced in the conference.

Will the Bulldogs be undefeated when they come to Boise?

Don’t count on it. The Fresno schedule was not created with perfection in mind. It was created to accomodate giant let-downs in big games. Still, if the Bulldogs are as great as the media make them out to be, a perfect non-conference record could certainly be possible. It's that pesky WAC schedule that could ultimately be their undoing. November will be a tough month for Fresno, and arriving in Boise unscathed might be too much to ask. History would make it seem like expecting the Bulldogs to sail through the WAC would be like expecting British humor to consistently make sense. In other words, don't hold your breath.

+/- 13 excuses involving Kansas State that Pat Hill makes following loss at Rutgers

+/- 173 references to "Touchdown" Tommy Brandstater that are immediately followed by incompletions or interceptions

+/- 6 WAC wins

+/- 32 defensive line combinations that Pat Hill tries before ultimately switching to the 1-2-8 defense.

One of these years Fresno State will break through and win a WAC title. So why not this year? That was the reasoning that the USA Today Coaches' Poll used.

The Bulldogs will undoubtedly be good. Their offense should run like a well-oiled machine. They will patch together a defense that keeps them in games. They have playmakers on both sides of the ball with experience and desire. But this would hardly be the first time that the Bulldogs have gone into a season with talent, and we know how many outright WAC titles they have to show for it (making "0" with fist and giggling quietly to oneself).

We refuse to jump on the Fresno State bandwagon both due to our hatred of Fresno State and due to the fact that we're not entirely sure the bandwagon will get where it's going. Is Tom Brandstater driving? Then we'll take the bus.

We may be horribly wrong; the Bulldogs might be great. But for now, at least we have history on our side.

Perfect Situation
The Bulldogs survive their non-conference schedule unscathed, Lonyae Miller and Mathews rush for 3,000 combined yards so Brandstater never has to throw a pass, Pat Hill figures out that the WAC isn't as hard as it looks, Fresno goes to Fiesta Bowl and beats a "glad-to-be-here" Notre Dame

The Bulldogs fall to Rutgers and Wisconsin; lose will to live; sleepwalk through rest of schedule, losing three WAC games; go back to Humanitarian Bowl and beat Georgia Tech, starting the whole hype machine over again next offseason

Final record: 6-5 overall, 5-3 conference