Facebook Twitter

Fresno sees BYU as a `must win’

SHARE Fresno sees BYU as a `must win’

0-3 start full of heartbreaking losses this yearForget what the schedule says. Same goes for the calendar.

As far as Pat Hill is concerned, Saturday's WAC opener with BYU is a "must win" situation for Fresno State.At 0-3, another loss would drop the Bulldogs to their worst start since 1974.

"Our backs are against the wall," said the second-year coach. "We've just got to find a way to win a football game."

Thus far, the Bulldogs have only come up with ways to lose games. The outcomes, added Hill, have left his team "fragile, real fragile."

In a 29-21 season-opening loss at Colorado, Fresno State quarterback Billy Volek fumbled the ball away just inches from a touchdown with 26 seconds remaining. In their next outing, the Bulldogs held a 28-27 lead over Texas Tech in the final minute before running back Jamie Kimbrough lost control of the ball. The fumble landed in the hands of a Tech defender who with 48 seconds left to play sprinted into the end zone for the game-winning score. The heartache continued last week when Fresno fell to Nevada, 27-24. The Bulldogs were ahead with 5:09 to go, but wound up losing when the Wolf Pack scored on a 51-yard pass play and a 66-yard interception return down the stretch.

And now . . .

"We're looking for a chance to just bury our dead from that 0-3 non-conference start," Hill said. "And start over again with conference play."

Fresno's hopes for redemption rest on several different shoulders. For openers, the entire offensive line. Injuries have sidelined four starters. The instability up front may have plenty to do with the Bulldogs' six costly turnovers (four fumbles and two inteceptions) this season. Thus, the match-up with BYU could well be determined in the trenches. The Cougars are the WAC's top defensive unit, but will be tested if the Bulldogs give Volek (349 yards passing against Texas Tech) and Kimbrough (103.7 yards rushing per game) time to operate.

BYU coach LaVell Edwards is expecting a challenge, especially considering how unfriendly the confines can be at 41,301-seat Bulldog Stadium.

"Fresno obviously will be very spirited. It'll be a full house. It's a little bit difficult to play (here) because of the noise. It kind of sits down and the crowd's right on top of you," Edwards said. "So it's going to be important for us to get off to a good start and hopefully we can do that in both areas -- offense and defense."

Edwards is hoping his team (2-2) doesn't put much stock in Fresno's 0-3 record.

"They very easily could be 2-1 with an outside chance of even being 3-0," he said before calling the game BYU's stiffest challenge of the season. "Conference games are obviously a lot more difficult."

Kickoff is set for 8:06 p.m., MDT. The game will be broadcast on KSL, Ch. 5.