As I sat looking through the Boise State Fresno State box scores from years past a strange thing occurred to me: These games were much closer than I had remembered them to be. As a Bulldog fan I had always carried the perception that Boise State came into Fresno, handled the Bulldogs, and traveled home with one win after another. A review of the series inside of Bulldog stadium actually shows us the opposite. With the Broncos and Bulldogs game only two days away I decided to take a deeper look into the statistics to see if it may yield what may happen this Friday night in Bulldog stadium.
To begin I took the following statistics from the games that took place in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009. As I mentioned in the opening I omitted the 2011 game due to the disparity between the two teams. I looked at the passing statistics of each team, the rushing statistics of each team, the kicking statistics of each team (kicks attempted and made), and time of possession of each team. What I found was a majority of the games played in Bulldog stadium not only were competitive, but came down the Broncos making one or two plays whereas the Bulldogs could not. With that let’s take a look at the team’s statistics to gain a better understanding of how this series has truly gone.
Boise – 19 of 30 for 220 yards, 2 td’s, 1 int, qb rating of 137.4
Fresno – 23 of 41 for 278 yards, 2 td’s, 1 int, qb rating of 120.2
If we take a look at the passing averages of the two teams you will notice they are not much different. While Fresno State averages 50 more yards per game that is due to the fact that they attempt 11 more passes per game. My initial thought process here was that the Bulldogs were often trailing and that is what accounted for the disparity in the amount of passes thrown. However, as we continue on to look at the rushing numbers I quickly realized I was wrong about this.
Boise – 33 rushes for 179 yards, 2 tds
Fresno – 33 rushes for 155 yards, 1 td
The rushing averages between the two teams were also far closer than I expected them to be. However, Boise holds a decent advantage here due to the fact that they average less carries and over 20 yards more per game. What this statistic told me was the time of possession would strongly be in Boise’s favor due to the fact that they seemed to control the clock far better than Fresno State has in the series. Once again I was wrong.
Time of Possession Averages
Boise – 27:25 per game
Fresno – 32:35 per game
Fresno actually holds the advantage in time of possession. Generally the thought process here is that the team who is able to control the clock more often than not walks away with the win. However, the Bulldogs are 1-4 in the five games being used for this study. What the time of possession tells us is Fresno State has been able to control the clock somewhat throughout the course of this series. Unfortunately that has not led to wins and that comes down to one cold hard fact which will be discussed following the kicking statistics.
Boise – 6 for 6, average 1 for 1 per game
Fresno – 5 for 11, average 1 for 2 per game
While Boise and Fresno average the same kicks made per game, the Bulldogs actually average one miss per game whereas Boise has not missed a kick in the five games used for this study. What this statistic tells us is that not only does Boise rarely leave points on the board in this series, but when they do score they score touchdowns. Fresno on the other hand has often had to settle for field goal attempts in which they have missed half of.
Boise – 32 points per game
Fresno – 26 points per game
If we review the statistics as a whole we see that Boise across the board averages one more touchdown per game than Fresno (in the rushing department.) In all other categories the two team’s averages scoring wise are the exact same. If we look at the final score averages Boise is about one touchdown better than Fresno State. What we can take from all of the statistics included in this article is simple: Boise State executes better than Fresno State when they face one another. Boise States statistics are not the type that speaks of a blowout each time they enter Bulldog stadium. In fact Boise State’s statistics say the exact opposite. What we should expect Friday night is another close game between the Broncos and Bulldogs. Just as it has happened so often in the past look for this game once again to come down to one or two key plays in which one team executes better than the other. In years past Boise has survived in Fresno because the Bulldogs have found ways to miss field goals as well as drop interceptions. The best example I can use to provide context to executing took place in the 2009 game. Fresno State had climbed back into the game trailing 41-34 in the fourth quarter. Kellen Moore threw an ill-advised deep ball down the left side of the field directly into the hands of Marvin Haynes. Had Haynes caught the ball the Bulldogs would have had a chance to drive down field to tie the game. Instead Haynes dropped the ball. Boise scored on the next play to put the game out of reach. Boise State executed, Fresno State did not.
Friday night the Bulldogs will not have to change much with respect to what they have done over the past ten years at home against Boise State. The Bulldogs have moved the ball on the ground and through the air relatively well against the Broncos. However, they have not been able to stop the Broncos from the big play nor have they been able to execute in a time of need. It seems ridiculous to think that one or two plays could decide a college football game in which over 100 plays are run. However, in the Broncos-Bulldogs series in Fresno that has happened nearly every time. Sometimes statistics do not tell us what we need to know with respect to how a game will go. In this case I believe the included statistics tell us exactly what to expect in this game: a close game that will be decided by which team steps up and executes when the game is on the line.