The Fresno State Bulldogs were a bad defensive outing in the final regular season game away from likely busting the BCS in 2013 but the Mountain West Champions still have a huge matchup this bowl season in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. There, Fresno will face off with the USC Trojans who will test the high-powered passing attack of the Bulldogs in a way that they have not been tested all season long. Can Derek Carr rise to the challenge in his final collegiate contest?
Carr has been one of the best quarterbacks in the nation this season, completing 70.1 percent of his passes for a ridiculous 4,866 yards with 48 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. His average of 405.5 yards per game led the nation in 2013 making Carr the most prolific slinger in college football this season. Receiver Davante Adams has enjoyed that strong arm of Carr this season, catching 122 passes for 1,645 yards with 23 touchdowns. While some may knock Carr and the passing production due to the schedule he played against, his numbers would be impressive running against air.
Against USC, however, he’s go up against the best pass defense he has seen all season long. The Trojans ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 this season against the pass, allowing 214.5 yards per game through the air and held opposing quarterbacks to a low 57.3 percent completion rate. On the year, they’ve allowed just 18 touchdown passes and picked off 16 passes. Their secondary is physical and athletic and can close down those throwing windows.
If Carr and the Bulldogs can find some success against USC (just their second AQ FBS opponent all season), it will validate their video game type of numbers this season and further catapult Carr’s NFL draft status heading into the offseason. Will Fresno prove up to the challenge?