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This item originally appeared in the September 30, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.

By KYLE ROBERTS

Associate Sports Editor

From Nevada valley high, to Rocky Top bottom, the Bulldog faithful have been on a roller coaster of emotions so far in the 2004 campaign. For the Bulldogs themselves, they couldn't ask for a better setup.

On Saturday, the nationally-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs (No. 17 in both ESPN/USA Today and AP) are coming to town in a showdown known as "The Battle of the Bone" for what will prove to be no menial task.

Fresno State comes in with a 3-0 record, and the 2-2 Tech Bulldogs will be Fresno's Western Athletic Conference opener. Fresno is 7-0 in conference openers under head coach Pat Hill.

"Fresno's an excellent team," head coach Jack Bicknell III said. "It's definitely going to be a huge challenge."

Fresno State has claimed that they are not afraid to go anywhere or play anyone and proved that by beating Washington and Kansas State soundly as the away team.

"They're a big physical team with big running backs and offensive linemen and have their quarterback back," Bicknell said.

"Defensively they give you all kinds of look with blitzes and everything else. They've had the week off so they get the opportunity to rest up for us and put in some new wrinkles, but it's a game that our guys are looking forward to. It's at home, and we're hoping for a good atmosphere."

A war is expected to erupt between Fresno's offense, commandeered by junior quarterback Paul Pinegar, and Tech's offense, anchored by the nation's leading rusher in total yards, junior running back Ryan Moats.

"Fresno poses a very formidable threat Saturday night," defensive coordinator Tim Rose said. "We're going to have to slow down the run and keep Pinegar from making big plays."

Fresno brings in a lot of depth at the tailback position, an area that Tech has struggled against with losses to Miami and Tennessee who rushed for 184 and 347, respectively.

"Fresno is primarily like the last two teams we played in that they run a two-back offense," Rose said. "They run the same plays in isolations and power plays. What's mainly different about Fresno is that they play in a lot of different formations. They'll run play-action passes on any down, so our defense is going to have to play top-notch."

In spite of the intense pressure being put on them this week, the Bulldogs remain unshaken and believe fan support is critical.

"Our players recognize what a big game this is and what it could mean to this 2004 season," Rose said. "For fans to come out and get us riled up and stay behind us through thick and thin would make a big difference."

Moats couldn't agree more.

"We're all excited about this game," Moats said. "Right now, we're 1-0 in the WAC, and by the end of the weekend, we'll be 2-0 in the WAC. I'm going to run my hardest against Fresno. I want them."


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