Sports

Bulldogs back in big time

Finally, a football game in Fresno with so much riding for both teams.

Fresno State (5-2, 4-0) vs. Boise State (6-1, 3-0) on Friday before a national television audience on ESPN2 at Bulldog Stadium.

A classic Western Athletic Conference showdown, with possible title hopes for each on the line.

Both teams made sure much of the stakes Saturday as Fresno State beat San Jose State 30-0 and Boise State used a fourth-quarter rally to win 45-31 at Louisiana Tech to remain undefeated in WAC play.

"It's exciting preparing for games that are important -- and this one's important," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "But you've got to win just to make sure the next one's important."

Not since Fresno State hosted then-No. 21 Oregon two games into last season has so much appeared to be at stake for both squads.

Then, it was for a national ranking.

Friday, it's about first place in the WAC.

"Boise State is a good football team," Hill said. "It'll be great for our community. Great for our university and great for all the people who follow Fresno State football.

"But it's not about the hype. It's about the preparation here. And this team has to prepare and stay focused. It can't be about jumping around and talking about it. It's got to be about studying it and being prepared to play."

Fresno State enters Friday on a four-game winning streak and three straight convincing performances.

The Bulldogs own the nation's 19th-best running game with an average of 204.4 yards; the nation's top kick returner in A.J. Jefferson, who is averaging 36.1 yards; and the No. 9 net-punting unit, which gains 38.6 yards.

Boise State hasn't dropped off much since its memorable Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma to conclude last season.

The Broncos' only loss is to Washington thus far. And though Boise State struggled somewhat in its past two games (Nevada and Louisiana Tech), the Broncos simply keep winning.

Boise State has won 42 of its past 43 WAC games and has claimed at least a share of the WAC title the past five seasons.

"Big game for both sides. Being played on the national level, here on our home stadium," Fresno State punter Kyle Zimmerman said.

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