9:00 PM ET, November 21, 2003
Bulldog Stadium (CA), Fresno, CA
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Whether Boise State travels to Bulldog Stadium as a favorite or an underdog, Ryan Dinwiddie knows exactly how to ruin Fresno State's dreams.
Dinwiddie passed for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and Tim Gilligan caught six passes for 149 yards and a score in the 20th-ranked Broncos' eighth straight victory, 31-17 over Fresno State on Friday night.
At the site of the biggest win in school history two years earlier, the Broncos (10-1, 6-0) clinched at least a share of their second straight WAC title with their 16th consecutive conference victory. Dinwiddie, the flamboyant senior quarterback, passed for 185 yards and led four scoring drives in the first half.
"Especially on the road, we wanted to get in there and get the crowd out of it," Dinwiddie said. "At halftime, they were bad-mouthing us and calling us bums. We were up 18, and all of their fans were heading out. We broke the will of them and their fans."
T.J. Acree, one of the three walk-on receivers who lead the school in catches, also caught a TD pass as the impressive Broncos took a 21-point lead in the first half. They never were threatened by Fresno State (7-5, 5-2), which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
The Bulldogs' hopes for a conference title have bit the dust thanks to Boise State in three straight seasons now.
As a sophomore in 2001, Dinwiddie led Boise State to a monumental upset victory over then-No. 8 and unbeaten Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium. He was just as sharp while quarterbacking the favorites this time -- and Dinwiddie, who also rushed for a score, fell just 37 yards shy of setting the school's single-season passing record.
"The last couple of years playing Fresno State, it's turned into a huge rivalry with tension between the teams," linebacker Andy Avalos said. "We knew we had to start fast, because they were going to pound it at us."
After falling behind early, Fresno State was forced to abandon its successful running game for a high-risk, low-return long passing game. Bernard Berrian caught 13 passes for 122 yards from Paul Pinegar, but the Bulldogs couldn't rally.
"This one hurt," said Fresno State coach Pat Hill, who lost on Senior Day for the first time in his seven seasons. "The one thing that we really couldn't afford to have happen to us -- getting down 21-0 early -- happened to us."
Berrian also scored on a 68-yard punt return for the Bulldogs, who fell to 34-6 at home under Hill. It was Fresno State's first loss in November since 2000.
Boise State is 20-2 in conference play since joining the WAC prior to the 2001 season. The Broncos also won the Big West title in their final two seasons in that conference, giving them four league victories in their last five seasons.
The Broncos made a proficient 12-play drive to open the game, with David Mikell scoring on a 3-yard run. Late in the first quarter, Gilligan -- the WAC's leading receiver -- caught a short pass across the middle and sprinted untouched for a 73-yard score.
"We knew there was going to be a lot of emotion on their part starting the game," Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said. "In somebody else's house, we wanted to get off to a good start and get the momentum."
Pinegar threw an interception on the first play of the second quarter. Dinwiddie then scored on a 5-yard bootleg, silencing the chilled near-capacity crowd.
Marque Davis caught an 18-yard TD pass from Pinegar moments later, but Acree scored 3:32 before halftime. Neither team managed more than a field goal until Berrian ran untouched up the Fresno State sideline for a score with 8:28 to play.
Pinegar was 28-of-51 for 290 yards in his sixth consecutive start since returning from a torn pectoral muscle, but fans began streaming out of the stadium late in the third quarter.
"When a team is scoring on every series they get, it definitely makes it tough on you," Pinegar said. "We just couldn't hook up. Either I made a bad throw, or the receiver didn't come up with the ball."
Even if Fresno State wins its season finale at UTEP next weekend, the Bulldogs might be shut out of a bowl for the first time in five seasons. Tulsa could edge ahead of Fresno State in the running for the Silicon Valley Classic with a win at San Jose State on Saturday.
"We had it in our hands, but it looks like another second-place finish in the WAC," Hill said.