Staying on the mainland after playing Colorado State, the University of Hawaii Warriors will travel to Central California to take on an old rival: the Fresno State Bulldogs. This Mountain West Conference clash will be on Saturday, November 3rd in Bulldog Stadium at 7:00 PM Pacific Time.
The two schools have been playing each other as conference foes since Fresno State joined the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) 20 years ago. The game has become something of a fierce rivalry.
Both teams come into 2012 with new coaches but this contest will be in the latter half of the year and each squad should have the nuances of change down by now. The Bulldog's new head coach California native Tim DeRuyter is a former defensive coordinator at Texas A&M which should be a good influence on a Fresno State team that had an unusual season in 2011.
Bulldogs look to rebound
The Bulldogs were in uncharted territory last year with the most losses by a Fresno State team in recent history at 4-9. However, fired head coach Pat Hill was a solid recruiter and the Bulldogs are stacked with talent capable of winning the Mountain West where they're picked to finish second behind favorite Boise State. And note that most of Fresno State's starters return.
The Bulldogs will be led by quarterback Derek Carr and running back Robbie Rouse who could be the best player in the Mountain West. This dynamic duo should make their team competitive in every phase of the game this year along with a faster-paced spread offense. With a good corps of receivers for Carr to throw to, Fresno State has a balanced attack that should be tough for the Warriors to stop. Hawaii's defensive squad will be fast but small, so a Bulldog run game may be the order of the day.
Fresno State's defense is changing over to a 3-4 from a 4-3. Their defense wasn't very good a year ago but should be improved, especially at linebacker. Hawaii will be more balanced in 2012, but if the Bulldogs don't put enough pressure on the new Warrior quarterback (see related articles), with Hawaii's receivers as the strongest unit on the team; the Bulldogs defense will have a long tough night.
The Fresno State Bulldogs should have a winning record heading into this conference battle which could decide whether they're bowl eligible or not with a win. For that matter, the Hawaii Warriors may also have a winning record if Norm Chow's rebuilding program is a big hit. The Bulldogs helped knock Hawaii out of bowl contention last season in Honolulu 24-21 (source - Star-Advertiser), so the Warriors may have revenge on their minds this time around.
This game looks close not only due to the WAC rivalry (now Mountain West rivals) but also the matchups. But this will be the second of two games on the road for Hawaii so they could run out of gas. With that, Fresno State should pull away late by ten points or more.
The Bulldogs will have just two conference games left for the season after this game with a big road contest next at Nevada. Meanwhile, the Warriors will still have four contests left with Boise State visiting next at Aloha Stadium.
The men of Manoa will have traveled for the better part of two weeks and over 7,000 miles, thanks in part to Hawaiian Airlines who sponsors much of the travel involved with the university. Hopefully, the men of Manoa will come back to the islands with a victory ... or two.
Sources - Fresno State, Hawaii, Mountain West Conference
Through thick and thin, Daryle has been a huge fan of Hawaii since visiting there 40 years ago and dozens of times since. Go 'Bows!
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