2014 Football Schedule: First Impressions

2014 Football Schedule: First Impressions

Fresno State takes a 1-0 approach each week to the football season, but Bulldog Playbook looks at how the 2014 football schedule could break down for Fresno State as of February.

First Four

2014 Football Schedule
Schedule tentative and is subject to change.
Aug. 30 at USC
Sept. 6 at Utah
Sept. 13 Nebraska
Sept. 20 Southern Utah

It was already known that Fresno State would open the 2014 season with three opponents from major conferences. Road games at USC and Utah and a home game versus Nebraska to start the season will be a tough task, especially for an offense transitioning with a new quarterback. After the rematch versus USC, the Bulldogs will face a beatable Utah team on the road and look to keep their 13 game home winning streak alive by defeating Nebraska. The Bulldogs finish non-conference play with an awkward mid-season FCS game.

Spring practice and fall camp will help set expectations for Bulldogs fans in 2014. Fresno State must replace key players at quarterback, receiver and defensive end. If the Bulldogs can reload at those positions, it is not unreasonable to think that the Bulldogs could win two of the four games in non-conference play. If Fresno State struggles at those positions out of the gate, it will be tough to earn a win in the first three weeks. The Bulldogs will have to shake off the non-conference results, good or bad, and be playing at a high level by the time conference play arrives.

As much as Fresno State fans want to see the Bulldogs knock off those three programs, head coach Tim DeRuyter has made it clear that the top priority is winning the Mountain West Championship so we'll turn our focus to how the conference schedule shapes up for the Bulldogs.

Opening Conference Play

2014 Football Schedule
Schedule tentative and is subject to change.
Sept. 27 at New Mexico
Oct. 4 San Diego State
Oct. 11 at UNLV
Oct. 18 at Boise State

After hosting Southern Utah on Sept. 20, Fresno State will play only one home game over a span of 41 days. Fresno State will next play three of their first four conference games on the road.

Mountain West Key Game: Oct. 4 vs. San Diego State

Marcel Jensen's blocked field goal leading to Fresno State's overtime win at San Diego State was the difference between the Bulldogs taking the West division title over the Aztecs. In 2014, they'll match up in the first weekend of October for a game that could have similar implications. A 2-0 start with wins over New Mexico and San Diego State would put Fresno State in good position early for the West division. If the Bulldogs manage to protect home turf versus Nebraska and San Diego State, the remaining schedule sets up favorably a third straight undefeated home season for DeRuyter and the ‘Dogs.

Oct. 18 at Boise State

In 2013, the Fresno State Bulldogs got the win over Boise State they had been looking for since 2005. Now they'll look to take the rivalry back to the blue turf to make another statement. For a second straight season, Boise State has a bye prior to their game versus Fresno State while the Bulldogs will be on the road at UNLV on Oct. 11. The Broncos are the only Mountain West opponent that will have a bye prior to playing Fresno State.

If the Bulldogs can defeat New Mexico, San Diego State, and UNLV prior to this game, they'll still control their own destiny to the conference championship game, win or lose in Boise.

Final Stretch

2014 Football Schedule
Schedule tentative and is subject to change.
Nov. 1 Wyoming
Nov. 8 San Jose State
Nov. 22 at Nevada
Nov. 29 Hawaii

If the Bulldogs can weather the non-conference schedule and succeed in the first half of their Mountain West schedule, they'll likely be set up with a favorable finish to the season. They'll have a bye week before going into their last four games, three of which will be at home. They'll host Wyoming, San Jose State and Hawaii, with one last road game at Nevada. Those four teams had a combined record of 16-32 in 2013.

The biggest roadblock in November will be the late road trip to Nevada which could be played in freezing temperatures. The Bulldogs have left Reno with two wins in their last five trips to Mackay Stadium. Nevada hopes to bounce back from a 4-8 season with quarterback Cody Fajardo returning for his senior season. Fresno State can't overlook San Jose State either which has suddenly won two straight over the Bulldogs. Like the 'Dogs, they'll have to fill big shoes at the quarterback position as well.

It is tough to tell how the 'Dogs will fare in their first eight games as of now, but Fresno State will have an opportunity secure a bowl bid or even a spot in the Mountain West Championship game by closing out the last four games with W's.

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