SCOUTING REPORT GOPHERS AT FRESNO STATE
Saturday: 9:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium (CBS Sports Network, 100.3-FM)
A look at the Bulldogs
Fresno State lost 30 players from a team that went 12-2 and was the Mountain West champions and winners of the Las Vegas Bowl. Jeff Tedford's young and inexperienced team wasn't intimidated, though, playing in Saturday's opener at Southern California in front of 77,000 fans at Memorial Stadium. The Bulldogs (0-1) were 13½-point underdogs, but they scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie the score on the last drive of the game.
Senior quarterback Jorge Reyna, a Los Angeles native, threw for 256 yards in his first career start, but he was intercepted in the red zone with 1:45 to play in the 31-23 loss. Reyna also had a team-best 88 yards rushing for the Bulldogs, who had won 21 of their previous 25 games. "Everything goes through him," Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "He can hurt you with his speed, he can hurt you through the air … very athletic, very competitive young man. [The Bulldogs] did a really good job of moving the pocket, getting him out of the pocket, getting him on the run, keeping his eyes down the field."
Who to watch: Ronnie Rivers, RB
Look for Fresno State to get running back Ronnie Rivers more touches this week after USC held him to just 53 yards on 14 carries. The junior tailback was the MVP of the Las Vegas Bowl after racking up 286 all-purpose yards against Arizona State, including 212 rushing. Even with Rivers corralled, the Bulldogs still rushed for 206 against USC, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Minnesota's run defense left much to be desired in its opening win against South Dakota State, allowing 5.1 yards per carry. The Gophers held the Bulldogs to 87 yards rushing in last year's 21-14 win at home, but Rivers didn't play.
From the coach
Jeff Tedford, who led California to 82 wins from 2002-12, resurrected the football program at his alma mater (he played quarterback in 1981 and 1982), going 22-6 in his first two seasons. Fresno State became the first team in FBS history to go from double-digit losses to back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins.
"I think everybody realizes it was a good year last year, but this is a whole new year, a whole new team," said Tedford going into the 2019 season. "Our expectations and our standards need to stay high, but it's the work you put in. It's the attention to detail you put in it to have a chance to even win one game."