LARAMIE – Kalen DeBoer understands using the transitive property can be dangerous in college football.
If Fresno State is 45 points better than UConn, and Wyoming is two points better than UConn … does that mean the Bulldogs should have an easy time in Laramie?
During a Week 0 game played on a sweltering August Saturday in Fresno, California, the Bulldogs dominated the Huskies, 45-0.
UW, which entered its game against UConn as a 30-point favorite, escaped with a 24-22 win after Rome Weber batted away a 2-point conversion attempt in the final seconds.
“That one is really an interesting game. That one really is a hard one to figure out,” DeBoer, now in his second year as Fresno State’s head coach, said of the Cowboys’ road trip to East Hartford, Connecticut. “You compare scores, right? That’s a tricky one to figure out. But we also had UConn challenging us in the first quarter until we strip-sacked the quarterback and scored defensively. It was a long trip across the country for Wyoming. There’s a million variables that come into play every game.
“For us it’s about not worrying about that game, realizing they have played some really good teams very well and they have a very good football team.”
The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-1 Mountain West) also gave then-No. 11 Oregon a scare in a 31-24 loss at Autzen Stadium and upset then-No. 13 UCLA 40-37 at the Rose Bowl during non-conference play.
Both Fresno State (lost 27-24 at Hawaii) and UW (lost 24-14 at Air Force) are coming off disappointing conference losses.
This will be the last time DeBoer’s team has to leave the state of California during the regular season. The Bulldogs have three home games and road games at No. 24 San Diego State and San Jose State down the stretch.
“There is strong chemistry on this football team right now and a desire to do some great things,” DeBoer said of Fresno State’s mindset after falling out of the top-25 and self-evaluating during a bye week.
Jake Haener was essentially playing on one leg during the stunning loss in Honolulu when he passed for 388 yards and three touchdowns but also threw four costly interceptions.
Fresno State’s star quarterback used the open date to let an injured hip and ankle heal before returning to practice this week. Haener, who is fourth in the FBS in passing yards per game (371.7), said he will be ready to get his team back on track Saturday in Laramie.
“Obviously it didn’t go the way we wanted to and I made too many mistakes with the ball in my hand,” Haener said of then-No. 18 Fresno State losing to the Warriors. “We’re going to correct it and get back on the field and go beat Wyoming.”
Pokes fans hope Fresno State’s potent offense gets off to a shaky start following a bye week like UW’s offense did at Air Force.
On the Cowboys’ first play, third-string running back Dawaiian McNeely lined up in the backfield for a play offensive coordinator Tim Polasek had ready all week.
But Sean Chambers didn’t call for the snap before a delay of game penalty. It led to the first of four consecutive three-and-out drives as UW fell behind 14-0.
“There’s a lot of work involved in the play that we had in mind,” Polasek said. “(McNeely) had the reps during the week. Sean took too long at the line of scrimmage. I’m going to get with them because I’m not sure exactly how that could even happen because we’re out there on the field with plenty of time in our process for getting into his run check. It wasn’t good enough.”
Polasek is confident Chambers, who finished 11-for-28 passing for 143 yards with one touchdown and two lost fumbles, will bounce back this week. He’ll have to if the Cowboys want to keep up with Haener and Fresno State.
“Losing is hard. You want the guys to hurt,” Polasek said. “I don’t want to get sentimental, but it’s about life lessons and how you respond.”
The Bulldogs have seven touchdown drives that took less than 1:00 off the clock. … Fresno State is third in the FBS with 50.0 total tackles for loss and fourth in average tackles for loss (8.3) per game. … The Bulldogs have recovered seven fumbles this season with at least one in all six games. … Fresno State leads the all-time series 7-5, including a 27-3 win in the previous meeting in 2018 at Bulldog Stadium.
“I just come out and chuck it,” Haener said when asked about the challenges of playing at 7,220 feet. “I don’t pay attention to that at all, it’s not something I’ve ever thought of.”