Cal Poly vs. Fresno State: Game Preview, How to Watch, Livestream, Prediction
The Bulldogs host FCS Cal Poly on Saturday night. Here’s how to tune in and what to watch for against the Mustangs.
Can the ‘Dogs rebound and deliver another home win for the Red Wave?
WEEK 2: Cal Poly Mustangs (1-0) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (1-1)
WHEN: Saturday, September 11 — 7:00 PM PT/8:00 PM MT
WHERE: Bulldog Stadium; Fresno, CA
TV: The game will be broadcast in the San Joaquin Valley on the region’s CW affiliate, The CW59 (KFRE).
STREAMING: Mountain West Network
You can also find the audio broadcast on Fresno State All-Access.
RADIO: The Fresno State broadcast can be found on in and around Fresno on Fox Sports 1340 AM, as well as on the affiliates of the Bulldog Radio Network around the San Joaquin Valley. The Cal Poly broadcast can be found in San Luis Obispo on the local ESPN Radio affiliate, 1280 AM (KXTK) and 101.7 FM.
SERIES RECORD: Fresno State leads the all-time series, 32-10-2. In the last meeting on September 7, 2013, the Bulldogs defeated the Mustangs, 41-25, in Fresno.
LAST WEEK: Cal Poly defeated San Diego, 28-17, while Fresno State lost on the road against Oregon, 31-24.
SP+ PROJECTION: Fresno State by 33.3
After a heartbreaking loss on the road last week, the Fresno State Bulldogs head back to the friendly confines at Cedar and Barstow for their second home game of the fall against the Cal Poly Mustangs.
Unlike last week’s opponent, Cal Poly is still something of a mystery given that the Mustangs ultimately cut their planned spring season short due to a litany of injuries. In their opening win against the San Diego Toreros, though, Beau Baldwin’s team looked much improved and after last week’s FCS carnage, you can bet Kalen DeBoer and the rest of the Fresno State coaching staff is instilling that this team cannot be taken lightly.
Here’s how the Bulldogs can get back in the win column against the Mustangs.
Three Keys to a Fresno State Victory
1. Get the running game on track.
Fresno State’s three turnovers in the loss to Oregon received plenty of attention from the coaching staff, but one thing that seems to be overlooked so far is that the Bulldogs have not yet run the ball that effectively in its first two games. They didn’t really need a big performance against UConn, but Ronnie Rivers only managed 40 yards on 14 attempts against the Ducks and, other than a big 47-yard run, Mario Cristobal’s defense held him in check.
Thankfully, though the Mustangs do have some talented individuals like linebackers Aaron Cooper (12 tackles, one TFL, one forced fumble vs. USD) and Matt Shotwell (11 tackles vs. USD), Kayvon Thibodeaux and Noah Sewell aren’t walking down the ramp onto Jim Sweeney Field this week. San Diego’s Terrance Smith and Emilio Martinez ran the ball reasonably well against Cal Poly with a combined 158 yards on 34 rushing attempts, meaning this is Fresno State’s opportunity to get right and take some of the pressure off of Jake Haener and the passing game.
2. Keep the defensive line’s hot streak going.
One thing that did carry over from game one to game two is the defensive line’s ferocity and they’ll need it again for a Mustangs offense that looks much different under Baldwin. Known for his high-octane passing offense at Eastern Washington, Cal Poly quarterback Spencer Brasch, who won a wide-open competition after transferring in from Cal, looked sharp as its operator against San Diego in completing 23-of-38 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns.
With a wealth of weapons at his disposal — including former Bulldog Chris Coleman, who had four catches for 76 yards and a score last Saturday — Brasch will hope he can continue to spread the ball around. The Toreros managed two sacks but couldn’t force him into more critical mistakes, but the ‘Dogs have looked like they can do just that.
3. Contain the self-defeating mistakes.
Another development which hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet is that the Bulldogs have been penalized a little more often than past precedence would’ve suggested. Through two games, they have 15 penalties, which puts them on pace to be the most penalized Fresno State team of the program’s Mountain West era.
Granted, the team isn’t likely to get called for four false starts on its own home field like last Saturday at Autzen, but removing things like multiple personal fouls and pass interference calls can make defeating Cal Poly that much easier.
Given the Big Sky’s uprising in Week 1 and Cal Poly’s own solid performance in a road opener, it’s tempting to say that anything is possible. However, it’s telling that the Mustangs weren’t terribly disruptive against San Diego and, while they did win the turnover battle, they weren’t able to put a lot of heat on the passing game. That alone is something with which Jake Haener should be able to work.
The most optimistic outcome is one where the ‘Dogs are able to finally sort out their lingering issues, play disciplined football, and get Ronnie Rivers over the century mark on the ground. Even if they don’t, though, Fresno State should be able to continue leaning on its strengths to keep Cal Poly at bay for a comfortable win.
Fresno State 38, Cal Poly 14