12:10 PM ET, September 11, 2004
Bill Snyder Stadium, MANHATTAN, KS
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- In 2001, Fresno State made a run at breaking into the Bowl Championship Series by beating big-name teams.
The Bulldogs are at it again.
Fresno State's 45-21 upset of Kansas State (No. 14 ESPN/USAToday; No. 13 AP) was its second victory over a team from a BCS conference in seven days -- and their seventh since the BCS was established in 1999.
With the big payday a BCS bowl guarantees, perhaps it's fitting that coach Pat Hill used a poker metaphor to describe his team's situation.
"We are still at the main table," Hill said. "We were all in. We picked up all their chips, and now we've got a bigger pile -- and next week we'll go all in again."
Fresno State (2-0) didn't have to catch many breaks against the Wildcats, either. After giving up an early touchdown on Bret Jones' 42-yard interception return, the Bulldogs dominated the defending Big 12 Conference champions the rest of the game.
With the loss, the Wildcats dropped out of the ESPN/USAToday Coaches' poll Top 25, released Sunday.
Bulldogs running back Dwayne Wright scored two touchdowns before tearing a tendon in his right knee in the fourth quarter, sidelining him for the season.
Bryson Sumlin was originally credited with Wright's second touchdown, but Kansas State officials gave the TD to Wright after reviewing the tape.
Paul Pinegar threw two touchdown passes to Matt Rivera and ran for another score, and Bryson Sumlin added two TD runs in Fresno State's biggest win over a ranked team -- and the Wildcats' worst regular-season nonconference loss in 13 years.
"I've been here for 16 years," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "You can remember some of the 1-10 and 5-6 (seasons). We never had a football team that just got beat up as badly as we did today."
The Bulldogs' 45 points were the most given up by the Wildcats in a regular-season nonconference game since a 56-3 loss to Washington in 1991. Fresno State's previous most decisive win over a ranked team was a 44-24 defeat of Oregon State, then ranked 10th, in 2001.
That season the Bulldogs, from the Western Athletic Conference, also knocked off Colorado and Wisconsin on the road.
Kansas State (1-1) led 7-0 before it took a snap, but the Wildcats couldn't do much right after Jones' defensive touchdown less than 3½ minutes into the game. They had only 2 yards of offense in the first quarter and trailed 31-14 at the half.
Fresno State's defense, which scored three times in last Sunday's 35-16 win at Washington, held Kansas State star Darren Sproles to 37 yards on 11 carries and forced two key turnovers.
"We realized that if we stopped him, it would be no contest," said cornerback Richard Marshall, who set up a touchdown with a third-quarter interception. "We knew the only person they have is Sproles. If we stop him, the game is ours."
Even Kansas State's one second-half score contained a mistake. With just over a minute left in the game, Brian Casey fumbled into the end zone after catching a 13-yard pass, and Tony Madison fell on it for a touchdown.
On offense, the Bulldogs gave up three interceptions -- two by Jones -- but otherwise exploited the Wildcats' shaky defense with a solid mix of running and passing.
Wright ran for 74 yards and one touchdown and caught three passes for 65 yards before being hurt on a 61-yard swing pass play in the fourth quarter -- a play that set up Sumlin's 4-yard TD run for a 45-14 lead.
Sumlin added 70 yards rushing, and Pinegar was 17-for-30 for 244 yards.
"Our running game opened a lot of things up for our passing game," Pinegar said. "Once we got the run going, we were able to do a lot of play-action."
Kansas State was awful on special teams, too -- especially in the second quarter.
First, Jesse Martinez shanked a 14-yard punt to his own 34-yard line. Four plays later, Brett Visintainer hit a 45-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead.
Dylan Meier, who replaced first-time starter Alan Webb at quarterback, answered with a 47-yard TD pass to Davin Dennis that got the Wildcats within 17-14. But after Kansas State lost 4 yards on its next possession and had to punt, a catch interference penalty against the Wildcats gave Fresno State the ball at Kansas State's 25.
The Bulldogs converted with Pinegar's 10-yard touchdown pass to Rivera for a 24-14 lead. Then, after Adam Jennings' 40-yard punt return to Kansas State's 11, Pinegar stretched just inside the pylon from the 2 to make it 31-14.
After Jones' interception return, Fresno State scored on its next three drives. Wright's 4-yard TD run tied it at 7 midway through the first quarter, and Sumlin scored from 2 yards out with 11 seconds left in the quarter to put the Bulldogs up 14-7.
Meier threw an interception to Fresno State's James Sanders deep in Bulldogs' territory in the closing seconds of the first half.
Webb replaced Meier to start the second half but was equally ineffective. He gave up Marshall's interception in the third quarter, and the Bulldogs capitalized with Pinegar's 29-yard swing pass play to Rivera for a 38-14 lead.
"A lot of guys need to go home tonight and evaluate themselves," said Kansas State safety Jesse Tetuan, who had a career-high 11 tackles but was also beaten on several pass plays. "They need to see if they played the way they were supposed to."