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2021 Fresno State Bulldogs: Is There Enough for a Title Run?
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Fresno State Bulldogs: Is There Enough for a Title Run?

Fresno State fell back some last year finishing with a 3-3 record but a lot of that was because of COVID. The Bulldogs return 19 starters and are primed and ready for a return to being a contender again. The offense should be strong and returns some top-notch talent. Defensively, they slipped somewhat in 2020 but with the experience they have coming back they could return to the form of the 2017 and 2018 teams.

Offense: Washington transfer quarterback, Jake Haener returns for his 2nd year at the helm. He averaged 336.8 passing yards per game with 14 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. A lot of teams would take those stats. He has plenty of help around him beginning with All-Mountain West running back Ronnie Rivers who is expected to exceed 1,000 yards rushing in 2021. WRs, Jalen Cropper, Keric Wheatfall, and Josh Kelly are back and are capable players to throw to. The offensive line is big and talented led by mammoth 6’7″ 330-pound tackle Dontae Bull.

Defense: The defensive line returns three all-conference honorees in Kwami Jones, David Perales, and Kevin Atkins. The linebackers were young last year but showed signs of improvement and both are back, including, Malachi Langley and Justin Houston. Also four starters return in the secondary led by cornerback Bralyn Lux and safety Deonte Perry.

Non-Conference Schedule:

8/28 UConn

9/4 at Oregon

9/11 Cal Poly

9/18 at UCLA

The schedule looks like a 2-2 split at first glance but 3-1 is certainly possible. UConn and Cal Poly are must wins. I doubt they can win at Oregon, but don’t sell them short at UCLA. They have the talent to beat the the struggling Bruins.

Conference Schedule:

9/25 UNLV

10/2 at Hawaii

10/16 at Wyoming

10/23 Nevada

10/30 at San Diego State

11/6 Boise State

11/13 New Mexico

11/27 at San Jose State

The conference schedule is balanced between tough road games and tough home games. UNLV and New Mexico are must wins at home. Road games at Hawaii and San Diego State are games they can’t lose if they want to get to the title game. Assuming they win all four of those it will come down to the other four.; home games against Boise State and Nevada and road games at. Wyoming and San Jose State.

Summary: The Bulldogs are legitimate contenders to win the West Division. They are experienced and deep and have some past tradition to draw from. They have Boise State and Nevada in Fresno which is a plus. Keep an eye on this team.

Predicted Finish: 3rd Place in MW West Division

Overall Record: 8-4

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