Game Review: Boise State Broncos vs. Fresno State Bulldogs, 9/20/2013, 6 pm, PT
Weather: Beautiful, mid ’70’s; Ticket Price: $37, direct from University
“College football at its finest.” by Tree
Bulldog Stadium has a reputation as a vibrant stadium and it did not disappoint. I had been closely watching the ticket activity knowing that this game could become a sellout. Additionally I was attending the game with my older brother and a friend of his and I knew that picking up three tickets from a scalper would be a challenging and pricey proposition. I bought three tickets from the rather cumbersome Fresno State website which turned out to be the smart play because the game did sellout. With a packed house, the stadium was rocking. The players entered the stadium through an inflatable tunnel presided over by a giant bulldog. The fans barked in appreciation of the entrance and kept the volume at a dull roar the rest of the game. The fans were also pretty tough on the Boise State fans sitting near us. There was a steady stream of good natured insults thrown at them all game. Hell, at one point, they were even booing the band. That seemed a bit extreme for the folksy charm of Fresno State which started out as an agricultural based institution. The stadium had good site lines all around and a reasonable video scoreboard. The concessions stands were plentiful, but apparently the one I went to was the only one that served hamburgers and it was painfully slow. However, that was the only real drawback.
I came to this game as part of a three game weekend. I flew out to Long Beach from D.C. via Jet Blue. The small Long Beach airport was easy to get into and I could actually walk right across the street to pick up the rental car. It had been a long time since I could do that. I picked up my brother and we headed north to Fresno. I thought the ride would be more picturesque but at least the driving was easy. As I mentioned, the Fresno State website was very weak when it came to useful game day information. Note to the webmaster, sometimes more is less when it comes to animation and graphics. The drive into Fresno wasn’t much better. We found no useful signage off the freeway and had to resort to Google maps to get us there. We parked at a bar for $5 and then walked a few blocks to the stadium. This lack of information caused us to miss the tailgating at the stadium. We didn’t see the raucous scene until we were at the top of the stadium grounds and already in the gate.
This game was a donnybrook. As I watched the game, I was thinking this was a game where the team with the ball last was going to win. It was tied after the first quarter, less than a touchdown’s difference at the half and 8 points at the end of the third quarter. Boise State never gave up and grabbed the lead late in the 4th quarter to finally go ahead only to see Fresno retake the lead. That was pretty much how the game ended. Boise did get the ball with about 2 minutes left, but they were unable to get close enough for a field goal. It was a fantastic finish, right down to the wire. Total yardage was fairly even. Fresno State had Derrick Carr just slinging the ball over the place and whatever limited shortcomings Boise State had in the passing game, they more than compensated for with a punishing ground game. The turnovers were kept to the minimum and exciting returns from special teams insured there was never a drop in the excitement. The Fresno State fans were impressive, cheering loudly and frequently.
Fresno State was the original BCS giant killer, vowing to play anyone, anywhere. The stadium and screaming fans add to the strength of the program. Programs such as Fresno State are the lifeblood of college football. As my brother said to me as the sun set and we watched the two teams play aggressive and exciting football he said, “Where else would you want to be right now?” Where else, indeed.