San Jose, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Fresno State Bulldogs try for just the third undefeated regular season in program history, as the 16th-ranked team in the country tangles with the San Jose State Spartans in Mountain West Conference action on Friday afternoon.
Already locked into the MWC Championship Game on Dec. 7, against an opponent to be determined, the Bulldogs are now just one of five undefeated teams at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. The usual suspects at the top of the AP rankings, Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State are not of concern to FSU at the moment. Instead it is Northern Illinois which completed an undefeated regular season on Tuesday night with a victory over Western Michigan.
The Huskies may be ranked below FSU in the AP poll at 18, but the all- important BCS standings show the Huskies sitting in the 14th spot, the highest ranking of any team outside of the BCS conferences. Assuming both teams remain undefeated through their respective conference title games, the Bulldogs will have a tough time crashing the BCS party.
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs are coming off a resounding 69-28 win over New Mexico last week, the highest scoring output of the campaign for FSU. The squad is now 7-0 in league play and has already captured at least a share of the West Division title. San Diego State could tie FSU in the standings with a win this weekend against UNLV and a loss by the Bulldogs, but still it will be Fresno State heading to the conference title game because of the tie-breaker.
Meanwhile, the Spartans have their own selfish reasons for wanting to win this weekend, needing a victory in the final game in order to become bowl eligible. Unfortunately for SJSU, the team could have wrapped that up a long time ago if not for the fact that it has fallen in three straight decisions. The latest setback was a heart-breaking 58-52 triple-overtime loss to Navy at home on Nov. 22.
Fresno fell to SJSU in the most recent clash two years ago, 27-24, but overall the Bulldogs lead the all-time series by a count of 39-34-3.
Derek Carr extended his streak of games with at least one touchdown pass to 30 in a row, doing so by tossing an incredible seven touchdowns during the onslaught versus New Mexico. Carr now leads the FBS with 39 aerial TDs and has thrown just four interceptions on 502 attempts. Against the Lobos the signal caller connected on 27-of-37 passes for 527 yards before heading to the bench.
"He's as good as there is in the country and that is why I think it is very well deserved that he should be in the Heisman discussion," head coach Tim DeRuyter said of Carr. "He has led us to a 10-0 record, which is the most important thing for a quarterback."
Davante Adams turned his nine receptions into a career-high 246 yards and four touchdowns, while Josh Harper posted 161 yards and three scores on 10 catches.
"When you have a quarterback like Derek, it's not hard to get in the end zone," Harper said. "He puts it right on you."
FSU amassed a staggering 820 yards of offense against New Mexico, setting a new team and MWC record, and now ranks second in the nation with 573.9 ypg.
Recently named a finalist for the Manning Award, Carr is now just 57 yards shy of 4,000 on the season, while completing his passes at an impressive 69.7 percent clip.
As if having the college football spotlight all to themselves on Nov. 22 were not enough, the Spartans played into three overtimes against visiting Navy before bowing by six points. Aiming to become bowl eligible for the second straight season, the Spartans were led by David Fales who converted 42-of-56 passes for 440 yards and five touchdowns in the first triple-overtime affair in program history. Chandler Jones caught seven passes for 101 yards and a score as he became the school's all-time leader in receptions, now with 240. While it was a tough loss to swallow, Fales became SJSU's career leader in both passing TDs (60) and passing yards (7,835).
"I'm fortunate to come in at a time with so many good linemen," Fales noted following his record-setting performance. "It's nice throwing to guys like Chandler Jones and Jabari Carr and Kyle Nunn, as well as having the freshmen step up."
Fales has the passing attack settling in at No. 9 in the nation this week, generating 335.8 ypg, but with all that success through the air, it doesn't always translate to the win column. The team has had far more trouble getting the running game on track, producing only 135.4 ypg (94th), and because that's the case opposing defenses like Fresno State are well aware that Fales and the receivers are the only viable option.
It terms of defense, SJSU is giving up 442.3 ypg (101st), with a good chunk of that (222.5 ypg) coming on the ground. However, the good news for the Spartans is that Fresno State doesn't run the ball all that much, 174.0 ypg, so perhaps the hosts can dodge a bullet in that area on Friday.