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Tailspin: Fresno State's disastrous fall from grace

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It's almost hard to believe that Fresno State was one of the most talked about teams in the preseason and was chosen by virtually everyone to win the WAC, especially when you consider how far they have fallen since.

Actually, no it's not. Fresno does this all the time.

But for some reason, this year's precipitous fall from BCS buster to broken-down and busted seems so much worse. Before the season began, people were literally claiming that the Bulldogs were one of the best teams in the country and that they and BYU were veritable shoo-ins for Top 15 or Top Ten finishes.

Now? No one will even own up to picking wrong on one of the biggest disappointments of the season.

Perhaps these people need a refresher course on how Fresno State went from ranked preseason to possibly, maybe, hopefully making the New Mexico Bowl. Here is that refresher course:

(Coaches poll and Anderson Hester Index rankings used)


  • Preseason: Fresno State is ranked No. 25. For some reason.

  • September 1: Fresno State guts out a 24-7 win at Rutgers, a team that would go on to lose four of its next five games. The Bulldogs remain at No. 21 in the polls.

  • September 13: Fresno State loses 13-10 to No. 10 Wisconsin, as Bulldog kicker Kevin Goessling misses copious amounts of game-winning field goals. Wisconsin is currently seventh in the Big Ten standings. The loss only drops Fresno State to No. 26.

  • September 20: Fresno State beats mighty Toledo 55-54 in overtime. They sneak back into the polls at No. 24.

  • September 27: Fresno State slips past UCLA 36-31, marking their second win over a BCS-conference school this season. UCLA would later lose 59-0 to BYU. The win vaults the Bulldogs to No. 21 in the polls.

  • October 4: Fresno State loses 32-29 in OT to Hawaii. Hawaii is not that good. The Bulldogs, having already taken their second loss on the year, show up at No. 63 in the computer rankings.

  • October 11: Fresno State holds off Idaho, a team that really doesn't need to be held off, by a final score of 45-32. The only team that Idaho scored more points against was Idaho State. The Bulldogs move to No. 62.

  • October 25: Fresno State needed a 58-yard field goal to escape from Utah State with a 30-28 victory. The win moves the Bulldogs to No. 55 nationally, which is probably too high.

  • November 1: Louisiana Tech beats Fresno State 38-35 to seriously jeopardize the Bulldogs' WAC championship hopes, not that they ever really cared about it from the beginning. Fresno falls to No. 63.

  • November 7: Six days later, Nevada wallops Fresno State, 41-28, rushing for 472 yards in the process. The Bulldogs take their lowest ranking of the year at No. 72.

  • November 15: Fresno State beats New Mexico State by a touchdown in Fresno. By all accounts, it was a NMSU win. The Bulldogs move to No. 65.

  • November 21: Fresno State beats San Jose State in a must-win game for bowl eligibility. The Bulldogs stand at 7-4 and No. 60 nationally. This sadly qualifies as a big win.


Boise State, on the other hand, rose steadily all season long by doing what no one really gave them a chance to do: win all their games. Wait, wasn't that supposed to be Fresno's job?

As you can see, the numbers don't lie. Even Microsoft Excel thinks Fresno State was horribly overrated in the preseason.

Can we get Microsoft Excel a job as a sportswriter? Just throw in some macros and some conference records from the past 10 years, and even a computer program would have known to stay away from picking the Bulldogs. The precedent was staring everyone in the face. Fresno State has not lived up to expectations for years, and there was no reason to believe that they were going to start now.

We saw this coming. So did virtually all of our readers. How could no one else? When you pick teams to be successful in the preseason, you have to consider more than just the roster and returning starters, otherwise we would have Georgia as a preseason No. 1. OK, bad example. The point is that there are a lot of factors that go into what makes a team successful, and Fresno State has yet to show that it can handle all of those factors.

Maybe next year? Try not ranking them in the preseason and then we can see.

Read more: Anderson-Hester rankings [AndersonSports.com]