Fresno State Bulldogs
Head Coach: Tim DeRuyter
2013-14 Record: 11-2, 7-1 Mountain West Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 45-20 loss to USC at Las Vegas Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: Field +2142
Offense: 5, Defense: 8
Fresno State enters a new era of football this fall, which can’t be ignored when making your college football picks, considering third year head coach Tim DeRuyter will not have Derek Carr under center.
The Bulldogs didn’t establish a starting quarterback in spring football and likely will not name a starter until the second week of fall camp. Brian Burrell, a junior, enters atop the depth chart to be the starting signal-caller.
Three of the five starters on the offensive line return, with right guard Cody Wichmann being one of the nation’s most experienced players, He has played the third-most snaps of any FBS linemen entering 2014.
The team does not lose any production at running back, with Josh Quezada and Marteze Waller, who combined for 1,453 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also contributing 74 receptions.
Josh Harper is one of the more explosive players in the Mountain West, as he’s caught 22 touchdowns in 27 career games.
There’s no question that senior Karl Mickelsen is the leader on this side of the ball, as he amassed the most tackles for a player last season since 2009.
Fresno State also returns both of its outside linebackers, with explosive playmaker Ejiro Ederaine being the main player for college football handicappers to focus on, as he had 16.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.
Derron Smith is also a special player, as he’s the nation’s active leader in career interceptions, and is considered the top senior safety prospect in the country.
The Bulldogs may have the toughest opening stretch in college football, as they play a pair of road games against Pac-12 Conference opponents (USC and Utah)—followed by hosting the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
DeRuyter is hoping to win at least one of those contests, as the conference schedule is manageable, especially with two bye weeks in the final two months.
The loss of Carr will cause the team to lose games it won a year ago, as close games down the stretch are often determined by quarterback play, but the defense is capable of making big plays to make this happen against inferior competition.
Under DeRuyter, the program has compiled a stellar 13-0 SU record at Bulldog Stadium.
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