Fresno State looks to play spoiler

Originally Published: October 20, 2004
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
Motivating college athletes to maintain a similar level of intensity during each and every game is one of biggest challenges for a college football coach. The "little guys" aren't so little anymore, and any letdown can literally wreck an entire season. Some teams are walking into particularly dangerous minefields this week.

Trap games

Fresno State at Boise State
Pat Hill
Pat Hill's Fresno State team is clicking at the right time.
After a mildly impressive start with wins over Washington and Kansas State, Fresno State has dropped back-to-back contests to Louisiana Tech and UTEP. The loss of RB Dwayne Wright has something to do with it, but overall the Bulldogs simply haven't played up to their talent level. As a result, what once was being hyped as one of the biggest non-BCS matchups of the 2004 season no longer has the luster following Fresno State's recent slide.

But don't count the boys from "The Valley" out. Pat Hill is one of the most dangerous coaches in the nation when he's out to prove something. While Boise has a little bit more talent and certainly has the notoriously significant advantage of playing at home on the "Blue Turf," Fresno has what it takes from a skill, matchup and mentality standpoint to spoil the Broncos' BCS-busting campaign.

For starters, the Bulldog defense has 10 sacks and eight interceptions in five games and has the athletes to consistently get in QB Jared Zabransky's face. Zabransky has exceeded expectations, but he's not perfect. He is young and inexperienced, and he's proven capable of making poor decisions in critical points of games. He still takes too many sacks (13) and has thrown too many interceptions (8) in six games.

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer