Deja vu almost struck Fresno State in the form of Boise State. In 2001, the Broncos came into Bulldog Stadium on a Friday night to burst Fresno State’s BCS bubble and erase David Carr’s Heisman Trophy aspirations in one fell swoop with a fourth quarter rally.
Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, blue lightning nearly struck the San Joaquin Valley again. Boise State rolled off 21 unanswered points in the second half to take a 40-34 lead late in the fourth quarter. But cornerback Jonathan Norton’s disruption of a fourth down, Joe Southwick pass attempt to wide receiver Kirby Moore sealed a 41-40 Bulldog win that nearly brought head coach Tim DeRuyter to tears during his postgame interview with ESPN.
DeRuyter’s emotional interview conveyed the elation of an program, exhaling in relief after more than a decade of frustration against its rival. Fittingly, it was Derek Carr who led the historic final drive.
Josh Quezada’s touchdown rush capped the decisive drive, on which Carr completed eight of his 39 completions. The quarterback told ESPN in his postgame interview that he told his brother the win for his him.
That 2001 decision has hung over Fresno State for over a decade. The season that was to be the Bulldogs’ national coming out party turned into the springboard for Boise State’s run. Fresno State never reached the same level since falling from that perch as the No. 8 team in the nation.
Friday’s win was one step in recapturing the missed opportunity that slipped through Fresno State’s collective fingers 12 years ago. Carr passed for 460 yards and four touchdowns without an interception, finding six different receivers who all had more than three catches.
His performance furthered his case for the Heisman Trophy.
DeRuyter called Carr “the best quarterback in the country” in his postgame interview. With two, nationally televised rallies now to his credit, over 1100 yards passing and 12 touchdowns to just one turnover, Carr is certainly making his case. The conversation about Carr’s Heisman worthiness can begin in earnest, as he’s now on a pace for over 4400 yards and approaching 50 touchdowns. Disparage his competition at your own risk, because this is a quarterback the NFL awaits with bated breath.
If Carr can captain the Bulldogs to BCS territory, the elitists among the Heisman voting lot will be much harder pressed to ignore his contributions.
A myriad of variables still remain in Fresno State’s schedule. The Bulldogs are just 3-0, with nine regular season games still to play — one of which isn’t guaranteed. Fresno State’s scheduled Week 3 showdown with Pac-12 representative Colorado has yet to be rescheduled.
The Bulldogs also travel to Hawaii next week. In 2001, the Warriors tripped up Fresno State immediately after its emotional clash with BSU.
And the Mountain West is also introducing a conference championship game this season. Carr and Co. could see this same Boise State team once more in December, or perhaps a Utah State bunch the Bulldogs missed in the conference’s cross-division scheduling.
Booking BCS reservations in September is a fool’s errand, which Fresno State’s mid-October defeat to BSU in 2001 proved. But Friday demonstrated at least one instance of Fresno State moving past the pitfalls of its missed opportunity over a decade ago.