Fresno State has lost its last six games against Boise State, by an average score of -- ouch -- 50-16. The Bulldogs have beaten the Broncos just once in the teams' past 11 meetings. Last season, the Broncos came to Fresno and adminstered a 57-7 pounding that played a substantial role in ushering out the Pat Hill era.
So it's safe to say there's no shortage of motivation for the Bulldogs as they prepare for Saturday's trip to Boise and the blue turf. But no one at Fresno might be more eager to end the program's run of failure vs. the Broncos than junior quarterback Derek Carr, for whom victory isn't just about getting revenge vs. Boise or even taking pole position in the Mountain West race -- it's about making his house a nicer place to live.
The Idaho Statesman reported on Friday that Carr has a memento hanging on his wall from the most devastating loss in the Bulldogs' streak of Bronco-imposed futility--a Boise State flag, forced on him by his older brother David Carr, the senior quarterback for Fresno's 35-30 home loss in 2001, when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 8 in the nation and eyeing a BCS bowl berth.
David has decreed that the flag must stay up until Derek engineers a win over the Broncos.
“My wife is begging me to take it down,” Derek said. “I'm going to do my best.”
The Statesman reported in the run-up to the 2011 meeting that the flag has hung in Derek's living room since he arrived in Fresno in 2009, much to Derek's embarrassment with his teammates.
“It's definitely come down a lot,” Carr said. “I have to keep putting it back up.”
The good news for the Bulldogs and the Carrs: despite the game being in Boise, this would appear to be Fresno's best shot at taking down the Broncos in years. Behind Derek's passing and the running of star tailback Robbie Rouse, the Bulldogs' new spread offense is ranked 20th in the FBS in total offense and has propelled the team to an impressive 4-2 start, with the two losses on the road at No. 2 Oregon and 6-1 Tulsa. (From a Vegas standpoint, Fresno is one of a small handful of teams to remain undefeated against the spread this season.)
The inexperienced Broncos, meanwhile, are ranked a stunning 86th in total offense and have already narrowly avoided upsets vs. BYU (where they failed to score an offensive point at home) and New Mexico.
A stout defense, home-field advantage and the series' one-sided history means the Broncos are the deserved favorites. But with the Bulldogs seemingly energized by the arrival of new head coach Tim DeRuyter, it's not the mismatch that it has been in previous seasons -- and there's a Boise flag hanging in Derek Carr's home, which argues that one team might come into Saturday's game just a hair hungrier than the other.
Photo of Derek Carr by Troy Babbitt, US Presswire.