The 57-7 loss to Boise State on national television provided a trigger point for fans upset with the direction of the program. It was the second straight blowout loss to Boise State, a former (and future) conference mate.
Fresno State is 2-4 on the year with losses to three BCS-conference teams (California, Nebraska and Mississippi) and highly ranked Boise State.
"I've been here for 15 years. You cannot say the season is over. I've been through a ton here. One loss and you're trying to get your team back, it's not easy -- and it's not just here. It's everywhere. There's still a lot to play for," Hill said.
Like the WAC title.
It is Fresno State's final season in the Western Athletic Conference and Hill has never won an outright title. Under Hill, the Bulldogs have lost at least two WAC games every season. Fresno State is 1-0 in the league. The Bulldogs play six straight WAC opponents, beginning with Utah State.
"Our expectations in this program are very high. That's never changed," Hill said.
The Bulldogs have been to 11 bowl games in the last 12 years. Fresno State needs five victories in its last seven regular-season games to qualify for another bowl game.
SERIES HISTORY: Fresno State leads Utah State 15-10-1 (last meeting, 2010, 41-24 Fresno State).
Fresno State has already blocked five extra-point attempts this season, including one against Boise State. The Bulldogs lead the nation in blocked kicks since 2002 with 63. Since Pat Hill became head coach in 1997, Fresno State blocked 42 punts and 55 extra-point attempts or field goals. Punter Andrew Shapiro is tied for 12th in the country with 12 punts inside the 20. Of his 35 punts, 25 have been downed inside the 20 or fair caught. Fresno State is just 12-8 at home since 2008, including 9-8 against FBS teams.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Sophomore QB Derek Carr has been spreading the ball around through six games. The Bulldogs have five players with 18 or more catches this year -- Rashad Evans (26 catches), Josh Harper (21), Isaiah Burse (19), Jalen Saunders (18) and Devon Wylie (18). Saunders leads the team in touchdown catches. He had a streak of three consecutive games with 100 yards or more snapped against Boise State, when he had one catch for one yard. Carr has thrown for 1,417 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has been intercepted five times.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Fresno State has forced just one turnover in its last four games. The Bulldogs forced four turnovers in the first two games of the season. Fresno State is 104th in the country in turnover margin. ... Fresno State ranks No. 113 in the country in scoring defense, allowing 36.5 points per game. ... LB Travis Brown leads the team in tackles at 7.3 per game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is the best Aggie team we've played by far. They found one heck of a quarterback, they've done a pretty good job with a lot of transfer students and junior-college transfers. They put together a really good team. They could very easily be an undefeated team." – Fresno State coach Pat Hill on Utah State.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Utah State at Fresno State, Oct. 15 -- Fresno State has dominated the series in Fresno. The Bulldogs have not lost at home to Utah State since 1980, going 9-0-1 during that time. Fresno State has won the last four and scored at least 30 points in seven of the last eight meetings. But Fresno State coach Pat Hill said this Utah State team is the best one he has seen.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Convert on third down. The Bulldogs were just 2-of-14 on third down in the loss to Boise State. Fresno State has converted 26-of-85 on third-down attempts (31 percent) this season. Utah State is converting on 53 percent of its third-down attempts.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
PR Devon Wylie -- The senior had a 79-yard punt return touchdown for the Bulldogs' lone points against Boise State. Wylie has two punt returns for touchdowns this season, which ties him for the national lead. He is seventh in the nation in punt return average at 17.6 yards per return. Wylie is one touchdown shy of the school record, set by Phil Borjas in 1972.
DT Logan Harrell -- The senior is tied for ninth in the country in tackles for loss per game at 1.67. Harrell has 10 tackles for loss this season, tied for sixth in the country. Harrell has been consistent. He has at least one tackle for loss in 13 of his last 19 games for the Bulldogs. Harrell is on pace to break the school record of 21 set in 2001 by Alan Harper.
RB Robbie Rouse -- The junior had a light day, by his standards, against Boise State. He rushed 10 times for 72 yards, snapping a string of four consecutive 100-yard games. Rouse, who led the nation in rushing attempts entering the game, is now fourth in the country with 143 attempts. Rouse ranks 18th nationally with 112 rushing yards per game.
FB Austin Raphael (bruised kidney) is out three to six weeks. True freshman Malique Micenheimer will start in his place. OL Leslie Cooper (ankle) missed last week's loss against Boise State. Cooper returned to practice on Wednesday after the death of his father. He should play. LB Edward Dillihunt left the team. Dillihunt, a redshirt freshman from Fresno, wanted to move to offense. The coaches wanted to keep him on defense.