FRESNO, Calif. -- Ryan Colburn matched his career high with four touchdown passes and Fresno State overcame a slow start in the season opener before snapping Cincinnati's 18-game regular-season winning streak with a 28-14 victory Saturday night.
Colburn connected with Robbie Rouse, Jamel Hamler, Devon Wylie and Rashad Evans to help the Bulldogs overcome an early 14-0 deficit and hand Butch Jones a loss in his first game as Cincinnati's coach.
Jones took over the two-time defending Big East champions after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame. He kept the spread offense that was so successful under Kelly and revamped a defense that struggled late last season.
For one quarter it looked as if the results would be the same as they usually were during Kelly's reign. But the Bearcats eventually wilted in the 94-degree heat against an inspired opponent.
The Bulldogs recorded their 16th win since the start of the 2000 season against teams from conferences that automatically qualify for the Bowl Championship Series.
Fresno State coach Pat Hill felt as if his team should have beaten the Bearcats on the road last year when star running back Ryan Mathews helped them keep the ball for nearly 44 minutes of a 28-20 loss.
This time, the Bulldogs attacked through the air and it paid off. Colburn completed 18 of 24 passes for 247 yards and one interception. He matched the four TD passes he threw in a loss at Wisconsin last season.
Held to one first down on their first seven drives, the Bulldogs scored touchdowns on their next three, taking a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter on Colburn's 28-yard pass to Wylie. The touchdown came one play after they converted a fourth-and-2 with a short pass to Tapa Taumoepeau.
The turnaround was just as stark on the other side of the ball as the Bearcats were held to minus-6 yards in a span of more than 22 minutes after taking a 14-0 lead on Zach Collaros' touchdown run early in the second quarter.
Cincinnati's Jacob Rogers missed wide right on a 48-yard field-goal attempt late in the third quarter. Colburn then hit Rashad Evans on a 59-yard pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 28-14.
The Bulldogs sacked Collaros on three successive plays on the following drive as the Bearcats offense struggled to find a rhythm. Collaros completed 24 of 41 passes for 219 yards, throwing for one touchdown and running for another, but he was sacked eight times.
The Bearcats were held to 15 yards rushing in their first regular-season loss since a 40-16 defeat at Connecticut on Oct. 25, 2008.
The Bearcats got off to the early lead, getting a 23-yard TD pass from Collaros to D.J. Woods following an interception by Pat Lambert. Collaros' 5-yard run early in the second quarter made it 14-0. At that point, Cincinnati had outgained Fresno State 195-8 and had two more touchdowns than the Bulldogs had first downs.