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Fresno State survives bizarre fourth-down decision to win Mountain West title

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

It was one of the weirdest coaching decisions you'll see all season and it could have cost Fresno State dearly. But it didn't, and the Bulldogs beat Utah State 24-17 to win the Mountain West Conference title.

With less than two minutes to go and facing a fourth-and-4 at the Utah State 29, Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter eschewed kicking a field goal for a potential 10-point lead and decided to go for it. It didn't work, and Fresno State was stuffed.

This wasn't Nick Saban deciding to go for it with less than a yard to go in the Iron Bowl. In that situation, the odds were in Saban's favor. In this situation, DeRuyter's best bet would have been to take the chance of the potential points, especially since his team was stopped on fourth-and-2 on the Utah State 39 on the previous possession.

It ultimately didn't matter. Utah State quarterback Craig Harrison threw an interception with 58 seconds to go and Fresno State was able to run out the clock. Harrison was in the game after Darell Garretson, who had become the starting quarterback when Chuckie Keeton was lost for the season with a knee injury, was knocked out of the game earlier in the fourth quarter with an apparent concussion.

A week after its BCS chances went long gone, Fresno was likely headed to the Las Vegas Bowl no matter what happened on Saturday night. Now they're headed to Vegas as Mountain West champs.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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