The Fresno State Bulldogs have been on a roll for most of the season offensively behind the unbelievable season of quarterback Derek Carr and the passing game. Up until their 10-point loss to the San Jose State Spartans last week, Fresno State was beating teams by an average of almost 20 points as Carr slung for over 400-yards per game. But to get their next win in the Mountain West Conference Championship against the Utah State Aggies, Carr and the Bulldogs will have to overcome the best defense they have faced all season.
Questioning the arm of Carr would be foolish as the senior signal-caller has been ridiculous throwing the football all season long. He’s amassed 4,462 yards this season, completing 70.3 percent of his passes, with 45 touchdowns to just five interceptions on the year. He 405.6 yards per game average leads the nation by almost 40 yards per game. He already has more passing yards than anyone in the country with another game to play and he has nine more touchdown passes than the next best quarterback this season. In the last two weeks alone, he’s thrown for 1,014 yards and 13 touchdowns to one interception.
But he will be going up against a defense that is better than any that the Bulldogs have seen all year. Utah State leads the MWC in pass defense and ranks No. 23 in the country allowing just 209.8 yards per game through the air. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 51.8 percent of their passes against them (No. 13 in the country) with 13 touchdown passes allowed and 14 interceptions. They rank No. 14 in college football in passer rating against this season and have recorded 29.0 sacks, the second most in the MWC.
That strong defense has been a major part of Utah State’s mad-dash to the conference title game this season. After a 3-4 start to the season and losing back-to-back games against the BYU Cougars and Boise State Broncos, the Aggies won five straight to close out the year, allowing 10 points or fewer in four of their five games to end the season. At 8-4 (7-1 MWC), Utah State beat out Boise State for the Mountain Division title to make the first ever MWC Championship game in their first season as a part of the conference.
Fresno State suffered their first taste of defeat in 2013 in their regular season finale. Can Carr rally his team to get them back on track with a conference title against the red-hot Aggies of Utah State?