Fresno State vs. Nevada Preview: Keys For A Bulldogs Victory
Bulldogs are finally back on the field.
Big time game this weekend.
It has been nearly three weeks since Fresno State played a game.
Usually that sentence would be a mistake, but the 2020 COVID-19 season has done that to many teams across the nations. The Bulldogs were hit with various COVID issues that forced the previous games against San Jose State and San Diego State to be canceled, leaving the Dogs with only two remaining games in the already-shortened season.
Fresno State will take on the previously unbeaten Nevada Wolfpack Saturday night in Reno-assuming the game doesn’t get canceled (knock on wood).
The Wolfpack just lost last weekend to Hawaii in a game that will leave many Nevada fans scratching their heads for a long time. Fresno State last beat Utah State on the road, and is in the midst of a three-game winning streak going into Saturday’s tilt.
Now, the Mountain West Conference Championship game is up for grabs, and fellow writer Matt Kenerly broke down all the possibilities a few days back- give it a read to save me the trouble.
Now, just a few days after the two-year anniversary of the Bulldogs winning the conference title game at Boise, Kalen DaBoer’s team prepares for their toughest challenge of the season.
What does Fresno State need to do to win this game?
Pick Up Where You Left Off
It’s been quite some time since the Dogs played a game, and let’s hope they can knock the rust off before Saturday. The last time they played they rolled over Utah State on the road, 35-16.
Ronnie Rivers once again scored and topped 100 yards, but the local Valley kid Jalen Cropper stole the show and even got a shoutout on the ESPN telecast later in the evening. Cropper had 10 catches for 202 yards and a hat trick of scores against the Aggies, including a 59-yard score in the start of the second quarter.
Jake Haener went 29-38 for 422 yards, four scores and a pick and again looked impressive. Ronnie finished with 25 carries for 132 yards and a score, and Josh Kelly added the other touchdown of the night.
The Bulldogs defense had six sacks and two turnovers, and held Aggies signal caller Jason Shelley to a measly 9-24, 144-yard clip.
If the Bulldogs can keep that offense rolling like that, they will be dangerous to stop regardless of who or where they play.
Stop Romeo Doubs and Carson Strong
Nevada’s emergence in 2020 has been due to a lot of things, but the best QB-WR combo we’ve seen in the Mountain West in quite some time is most of the reason.
Carson Strong has already surpassed his yardage total from last season, and is on track to double his amount of touchdowns thrown as well. Strong has thrown for 1973 yards with 16 scores and just two interceptions. Even more impressive, Strong has thrown 2 or more touchdowns in every game this season.
Junior wideout Romeo Doubs has been perhaps the best player in the entire conference not named Ronnie Rivers- as we pointed out last week. The two seem to be on a crash course for MWC Player of the Year, and their respective quarterbacks also have strong cases in their favor.
Doubs has been a nightmare for every team this year- except for Hawaii last weekend. Doubs has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in every game except the Hawaii game, and his 2020 totals are 37 catches for 788 yards and nine scores. For those that struggle in math, he is AVERAGING 131 yards per game, and that’s after a 1 catch game last weekend.
Doubs went over the 200-yard mark against UNLV on Halloween night, and he’s scored three touchdowns in two games this season. It’s safe to say-even after last week- Doubs is a problem.
The Bulldogs have done a decent job stopping the pass this season, but they haven’t faced anybody like Doubs. If Fresno State can stop Doubs and Strong, the game should be theirs.
Nevada is not happy after coming off a 3-point road loss to Hawaii, especially after the Rainbow Warriors held the ball for the last six minutes of the game. Nevada’s road to an unbeaten season ended overseas, and the Wolfpack are going to have a ton to erase from last week.
For the Bulldogs, the chance is there for the taking, and the biggest issue is going to be the lay-off, something that is usually uncharacteristic for any college team. A matchup against San Diego State and San Jose State would’ve been huge tests for the Bulldogs, and with next week’s game against lowly and winless New Mexico, Fresno’s biggest challenge is right now.
Prediction: Fresno State 37, Nevada 34 (2OT)
Ronnie Rivers erupts for three scores and 150+yards on the ground, while Romeo Doubs also goes off for 125 and two scores. The Bulldogs defense forces a couple picks from Carson Strong, and Jake Haener controls the ball enough as Cesar Silva kicks a game-winner in double overtime.