San Jose State vs. Fresno State: Keys To A Bulldogs Win, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Bulldogs look to defend the Valley Trophy against the rival San Jose State Spartans. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for.
Can the ‘Dogs stop their slide?
WEEK 7: San Jose State Spartans (4-1, 2-0 Mountain West) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (1-4, 0-1 MW)
WHEN: Saturday, October 15 — 7:45 PM PT/8:45 PM MT
WHERE: Valley Children’s Stadium; Fresno, CA
WEATHER: Mostly clear, low of 58 degrees
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS2, by following this link.
RADIO: The San Jose State broadcast can be found in the South Bay on 860 AM The Answer (KTRB). The Fresno State broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Bulldog Sports Network, including 1340 AM (KCBL) in Fresno.
SERIES RECORD: Fresno State leads the all-time series, 43-38-3. In the last meeting on November 25, 2021, the Bulldogs defeated the Spartans, 40-9, in San Jose.
LAST WEEK: San Jose State defeated UNLV at home, 40-7, while Fresno State lost on the road against Boise State, 40-20.
ODDS: San Jose State -7.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Fresno State by 4.7
FEI PROJECTION: San Jose State by 9.4
PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: San Jose State 76.89% win probability (28.32-18.17)
For THE VALLEY.
— Fresno State Football 🧸 (@FresnoStateFB) October 11, 2022
After losing one rivalry game to open conference play, the Fresno State Bulldogs won’t have much time to lick their wounds with the Valley Trophy on the line against San Jose State.
The Spartans have found a way to pull themselves together after a close call against Portland State to open the season and a close loss at Auburn after that, stringing together three straight victories by an average of 26 points. They look, for the moment, like the best team in the West division, but here’s how the ‘Dogs can hang on to the silver V and keep their conference title dreams afloat.
Three Keys to a Fresno State Victory
1. Don’t get killed on passing downs.
It hasn’t come as a shock that the drop-off in production from Jake Haener to Logan Fife has been sharp, but the Bulldogs offense has struggled on passing downs, generally defined as 2nd-and-8 or more and 3rd/4th-and-5 or more, no matter who’s been under center. That could pose a problem against San Jose State’s defense for a couple of different reasons.
First, in examining third downs in particular, the Spartans have given up a completion rate of 48.4% and just 11 first downs on 31 pass attempts. More critically, Fresno State has also allowed a 14% sack rate on passing downs, which ranks 127th among all FBS teams, while San Jose State has posted a defensive sack rate of 11.5% in those same situations, good enough to rank 18th. Slowing Cade Hall and Viliami Fehoko is going to be important no matter the situation, but especially so when they’ll be able to pin their ears back and attack the quarterback.
2. Keep Kairee Robinson in check.
Chevan Cordeiro has been the focal point of the Spartans offense, but Robinson’s quiet ascension has made Kevin McGiven’s unit that much more dangerous. The senior from Antioch has been stellar during the team’s three-game winning streak, averaging 5.81 yards per carry and scoring four touchdowns, and currently boasts the second-best PFF run grade (86.9) of any running back in the Mountain West.
It will be crucial, then, for the defensive line to bounce back after getting pushed around by both USC and Boise State in recent weeks to the tune of over six yards per carry. To this point in the season, the ‘Dogs have allowed an opportunity rate of 53.8%, 118th among FBS defenses, while compiling a stuff rate of 16.7%, which is 91st overall.
3. Get off the field on third downs.
One of the few uncertain factors in this matchup is that while neither offense has been sterling when it comes to moving the chains, Fresno State has struggled mightily to make third down stops. Against FBS opponents, the Bulldogs have allowed the highest conversion rate in the Mountain West, 45.6%, a figure which also ranks 112th in the nation.
Conversely, the Spartans have been successful on only 36.1% of their third downs against FBS foes to date, but they managed 40% in their win over Wyoming and 50% last week against UNLV. Cordeiro has been a major contributor in this regard, completing 62.9% of his third down throws and notching 13 first downs through the air, so SJSU could pretty easily seize the upper hand if the Bulldogs can’t find answers.
You might be able to grade Fresno State’s recent lackluster performances on a curve if you’re feeling generous — USC is now the 7th-best team in the country, after all, and Boise State has a substantial lead in the Mountain division for the moment — but there hasn’t been much to suggest that the numerous injury replacements are up to the task of containing yet another quality opponent.
San Jose State 38, Fresno State 21