Bulldogs finish on top of the Mountain
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - Utah State - INSIDE SLANT
Fresno State football team after Saturday night's inaugural Mountain West championship game.
Joy because the West Division champion Bulldogs (11-1) were treated to the celebration of having fans rush the field after a victory, this one a hard-fought 24-17 win over Mountain Division champion Utah State (8-5).
Vindication for bouncing back from a regular season-ending 62-52 loss at San Jose State that ended its BCS bowl hopes, especially on the defensive end.
It was Fresno State's first outright league championship since winning the Big West in 1989. The Bulldogs were Mountain West tri-champs with Boise State and San Diego State in 2012.
"As a competitor, that wasn't enough," senior quarterback Derek Carr, who passed for 404 yards and three touchdowns, told the Fresno Bee. "We wanted to come back and finish things right. That's why I love winning, not because to get our name out there like that. I like to see the joy on my teammates' and coaches' faces. I love to see the joy in a city's face."
It was also a big night for the Bulldog defense, which rebounded in a big way from 736-yard shellacking at the hands of David Fales and the Spartans. Fresno State had eight sacks and three key fourth down stops while holding the Aggies to just 304 total yards.
"Our defense was much maligned last week, but they showed resiliency," Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter said. "We went up against the conference's best defense, but we had the best defense in the Mountain West tonight."
"Our defense stepped up in the clutch again and we got to redeem ourselves," defensive tackle Tyeler Davison told the Fresno Bee.
The Bulldogs, who won 11 games in a season for the first time since 2001, will face USC (9-4) in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21 while Utah State will take on Northern Illinois (12-1) in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 26.
AIR FORCE (2-10)
Next: Season completed.
BOISE STATE (8-4)
Next: vs. Oregon State, Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24.
COLORADO STATE (7-6)