No. 25 Fresno State works to ‘stay grounded’ on 13-game winning streak

Fresno State may be the program that few are talking about. 

Consider this: a team has a 13-game winning streak and averages nearly 430 yards per game.

PODCAST: What Should Decide Who the Best Teams in America Are?

Enter Fresno State, the most recent team to enter the Associated Press Top 25 Poll right at No. 25, and the Bulldogs head coach doesn’t take much stock from it. 

“At the end of the year is what matters,” Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford said. “Our team has played hard and done a good job, but we’re just now starting conference, and really it’s when you’re 4-0 that’s a little that can be even more challenging than 1-4 because of expectation and everybody patting you on the back and all that type of thing. It’s human nature to get in your comfort zone, and so we have to do our best to stay out of that. So we’re just going to go to work each week one day at a time and just try to continue to get better every week.” 

The only team with a longer active winning streak is No. 1 Georgia, which currently is riding a 21-game win streak that includes a College Football Playoff National Championship. 

The Fresno State Bulldogs are riding their winning streak that dates back to Week 7 of last season. Since then wins have included against San Diego State, Boise State and Washington State in the LA Bowl. 

This season, Fresno State began the year with a 39-35 stunner at Purdue. The Bulldogs came back from being down 28-17 while quarterback Mikey Keene threw two clutch touchdown passes in the second half.

READ: Preview Thursday: Week 5

Tedford said the Bulldogs have addressed team expectations during team meetings behind their 4-0 start. 

“When you’re 4-0 and people are patting you on the back and that type of thing and saying good things all the time it’s challenging, and so we just have to make sure that we stay grounded and know what it takes to be successful each week and that we’re going get everybody’s shot,” Tedford said. “And we just have to keep that focus in mind on what it takes to win a football game. It is very difficult and it all happens in preparation. And we take a day off of preparation or get a little bit comfortable, then we’re going to get bit by it so it’s just really important for kids to understand that.” 

Fresno State has a balance of offense and defense capable of leading any game. Keene leads the Mountain West Conference in passing per game behind an average of 301.3 yards per game and he’s atop the passing efficiency leaderboard with a 151.42 rating. 

The Bulldogs are No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference in scoring offense, averaging almost 39 points per game, and No. 2 in total defense, holding opponents to 297.5 yards per outing. They also shut out Arizona State 29-0 on the road in Week 3. 

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Fresno State has “got a lot of guys that have improved,” and he highlighted defensive back Cam Lockridge, defensive lineman Gavriel Lightfoot and linebacker Raymond Scott among the team’s most improved players who are guiding the defense. 

Coyle also said he’s noticed the defensive side of the ball has started to make breakthroughs. 

“One thing I’m very pleased about is the fact that from the first week till now, we’re a much better defense than we were,” Coyle said. “A much deeper defense with the fact that we’ve been able to play a lot of players here early in the season, which is going to help us as we get into the conference schedule.”

PODCAST: Riding high and bouncing back, a week five preview

Fresno State opens conference play on Saturday against 0-4 Nevada, but Tedford and the Bulldogs aren’t taken the Wolfpack lightly. 

Each game is important to Tedford, who hopes the Bulldogs can continue building on their nationally important winning ways. 

“Every week I’m concerned about every single aspect of our team and our game,” Tedford said. “We have really good kids. I do know that. And they work really hard and they’re going to play really hard. I have a lot of confidence in that, but you just never know week to week. You see some young guys come along, which is nice to see like new safeties who hadn’t played before are doing a good job and some of the new receivers are doing a good job. So they’ve matured a lot and really it’s through hard work that they’ve done that. But still, we have to continue to get better each and every week. We have a lot of room for improvement.”