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2018

Fresno State

College Football

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Jeff Tedford surprised everyone in his first season at Fresno State, making the MWC title game and then beating Houston in its bowl game en route to a 10-4 record. This came a year after going 1-11 and with a schedule that included road trips to Alabama and Washington. The Bulldogs may not reach those levels in 2018, but with a lot of returning starters, they’re favorites to win the West division. Their over/under at 5Dimes Sportsbook put them at a solid eight wins with +620 odds to win the MWC.

Even with last year’s success, the offense lacked consistency at 27.1 points per game, showing in the 26-16 home loss to UNLV. Quarterback Marcus McMaryion (14 TDs, 4 INTs, 252 rushing yards) is set for a better all around season after reviving his career in 2017 as a transfer from Oregon State. Three starters return on the line to go with his top receiving targets in KeeSean Johnson (69 receptions, 918 yards, 8 TDs) and Jamire Jordan (23 yards per reception). The running game also returns its top three guys in Jordan Mims (609 yards, 6 TDs), Josh Hokit (519 yards, 7 TDs) and Ronnie Rivers (473 yards, 5 TDs). If this offense doesn’t improve, it’d be a disappointment given the returning production. If all goes well, McMaryion will challenge Boise’s Brett Rypien for top QB in the conference.

All that said about the offense, it’s the Fresno defense that leads the team after allowing only 17.9 points per game last year. The biggest question is in the front where four new starters are expected, making 2017 extremely difficult to replicate. However, the back end is completely intact with linebackers George Helmuth, Jeffrey Allison and James Bailey, the team’s leading tacklers and possibly best unit in the MWC, all back. The secondary isn’t as good, but all four starting upperclassmen return, so there won’t be a drop off. Once again, the Bulldogs should challenge Boise State as the conference’s best, the only problem lies in the schedule.

Similar to last year, Fresno has two difficult non-conference road trips, although Minnesota and UCLA are a bit easier than the year before. Getting to the top of the West division will be difficult mainly because of the November trip to Boise. If that’s Fresno’s only loss, another division title will be there for the taking. But even though the Bulldogs host Wyoming and San Diego State, neither of those games are guaranteed and the trip to Nevada will be sneakily difficult. Not many believe the Bulldogs can replicate last season, but with McMaryion leading the way to go with returning production at almost every level, more than eight regular-season wins won’t be impossible. And if they can steal a game at Minnesota or UCLA, the possibility to reach nine wins is even closer.

 

2018 Fresno State Bulldogs Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Idaho 

Sept. 8 at Minnesota

Sept. 15 at UCLA

Sept. 29 vs. Toledo

Oct. 6 at Nevada

Oct. 13 vs. Wyoming

Oct. 20 at New Mexico

Oct. 27 vs. Hawai’i

Nov. 3 at UNLV

Nov. 9 at Boise State

Nov. 17 vs. San Diego State

Nov. 24 vs. San Jose State

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