GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The Fresno State players wear a green "V" on the back of their red helmets because the Bulldogs pride themselves on being the San Joaquin Valley's team. UND will head to the valley with the utmost respect for a FBS team that has been to bowl games in 11 of the last 14 seasons, but the only "V" the Fighting Sioux football team will be interested come Saturday is being victorious at Bulldog Stadium.
The matchup will be the first between the two teams on the gridiron and kickoff is slated for 9 p.m. CT. The Fighting Sioux will conclude a brief, two-game road swing against WAC opponents with their tilt against the Bulldogs.
UND held a 14-10 in the contest last Saturday at fellow WAC foe Idaho, but saw that lead evaporate in the second half. The focus this week will be on learning from the last 30 minutes inside the Kibbie Dome and putting together an entire 60 minutes of winning football in Fresno State's home opener.
LIVE FROM FRESNO
UND's second straight contest at a WAC opponent will also be streamed live on ESPN3.com for a second consecutive week. ESPN3.com is available to Midcontinent internet subscribers in Grand Forks and the surrounding areas. The Fighting Sioux Radio Network will also be at Bulldog Stadium to bring all the action back to its nine-station membership. Jack Michaels will handle the play-by-play and Mike Berg will provide color analysis. Fans not able to watch can track live stats on www.FightingSioux.com. A direct link to CBSSports' Gametracker is available on the site.
FIGHTING SIOUX RADIO NETWORK
- Bismarck, N.D. KFYR 550 AM or KXMR 710 AM
- Beulah, N.D. KDKT 1410 AM
- Devils Lake, N.D. KDVL 102.5 FM
- Dickinson, N.D. KTLC 1460 AM
- Fargo, N.D. WDAY 970 AM
- Grand Forks, N.D. KQHT 96.1 FM
- Mahnomen, Minn. KRJM 101.5 FM
- Minot, N.D. KRRZ 1390 AM
- Williston, N.D. KDSR 101.1 FM
NEWS AND NOTES
- The Fighting Sioux will look to snap a seven-game road losing streak Saturday at Fresno State. UND won its last road game of the 2009 season at Central Arkansas, but went 0-6 away from home in 2010 and dropped its road opener last Saturday at Idaho.
- The game with the Bulldogs will be the fifth against a FBS opponent for the Fighting Sioux. Last week against Idaho, safety Erik Mersereau gave the Sioux their first lead in one of those contests with a 79-yard punt in the second quarter. UND would go on to hold a 14-10 advantage at halftime, which was also the first halftime lead for the Sioux against a FBS squad.
- Fresno State will be the second consecutive WAC opponent the Sioux will face. UND played at Idaho last Saturday and, ironically, that is where the Bulldogs head next (Sept. 24) to open WAC play after their tilt with the Fighting Sioux.
- Mersereau was named the College Football Performance Awards FCS Punt Returner Performer of the Week after his 79-yard return for a touchdown at Idaho. Both the FCS and FBS punt returner honorees from last week will be squaring off against each other this Saturday on the new turf at Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State senior Devon Wilie earned the FBS accolade after posting a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown at Nebraska for the Bulldogs' initial score of that contest.
- Mersereau's punt return was the third longest in UND history and fifth longest in the Great West record books. It was the first for UND since Josh Murray took a punt back 60 yards last season vs. Northwestern State (Sept. 25). He currently leads all FCS players with a 35.0 avg. per punt return.
- Sophomore Greg Hardin hauled in his 10th career touchdown reception last Saturday at Idaho. Just 13 games into his career, the 5-foot-10 wideout is only four TD receptions away from cracking UND's career top 10 list.
- The 54-yard reception was also the first touchdown pass of classmateJoey Bradley's career.
- Senior Johnnie Lee Daniels racked up seven tackles and a sack in his first career start at Idaho. Daniels had eight tackles in his 10 previous appearances for UND.
- The Sioux defense will get a pair of starters back from last year's team when linebacker Dominique Bennett and cornerback Chavon Mackey return from a two-game suspension.
- The 2011 season marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 team's Division II national title. The squad will be formally inducted into the UND Athletics Hall of Fame during the Potato Bowl weekend when the Sioux will take on Black Hills State at 6 p.m. on Sept. 24.
- The shutout of Drake was the first since the 2007 season for the Fighting Sioux defense (Sept. 29 vs. Augustana; 37-0) and first during head coach Chris Mussman's tenure at UND.
- The blanking was also the only one of the opening weekend put up by a FCS school against a fellow FCS school. FCS members Morehead State, Nicholls State and Portland State also posted shutouts, but those were against NAIA opponents.
- The Fighting Sioux were the only GWC squad to win its season opener and UND's remaining 10 opponents also went winless during the opening weekend of the college football season.
- Running back Mitch Sutton garnered the initial Great West Offensive Player of the Week honor following his 24-carry, 105-yard output in the shutout of Drake. Sutton's 100-yard rushing effort was the third of his career and he also eclipsed the 1,000-yard career rushing mark in the victory. The weekly GWC honor was the second of Sutton's career (Oct. 6, 2009; vs. South Dakota).
- While placekicker Zeb Miller was busy getting his second collegiate season off to a solid start, no other GWC team attempted a field goal during the opening weekend of play. Miller drilled all three of his attempts, connecting from 41, 22 and 32 yards out. His three makes equaled his career high set last season vs. UC Davis (Nov. 6).
- Miller's efforts earned him honorable mention placekicker performer of the week honors from College Football Performance Awards. College Sports Madness named the 6-foot-2 kicker its Great West Conference Player of the Week. His 10 points were the second most scored by a Great West player in the opening weekend. Only Southern Utah wide receiver Jared Ursau, who caught two TD passes (12 pts), had more.
- Eight Fighting Sioux players made their first career starts in the season opener vs. Drake: Damon Andrews (LB), Justin Belotti (SS), Joey Bradley (QB), Daryl Brown (CB), Darren Deneui (LT), Cordero Finley (LB), Brandon Quesenberry (RT) and Kenny Watkins (CB). Andrews and Brown were single-handedly responsible for UND's two turnovers in the contest. Andrews recovered a fumble in the third quarter and Brown added an interception in the fourth. Both were the firsts of their respective careers.
- Through two games this season, the Sioux special teams have blocked three kicks already. In both games, the first field goal attempt by the opponent has been batted down.
- Sophomore Cordero Finley got into the action with his first career blocked kick, deflecting a PAT in the third quarter at Idaho. DT Devin Benjamin blocked his second career kick on the first-quarter field goal attempt.
- Since moving up to the FCS level beginning with the 2008 season, the Fighting Sioux have blocked 19 total kicks. Senior Broc Bellmorehas seven of those, including one in this year's season opener.
- Bellmore owns UND single-game (two; twice) and single-season records (four; 2009) for blocked kicks. Against Central Arkansas in the 2009 season finale, Bellmore blocked two field goals in the same game, tying a FCS single game record. His second block came on the final play, preserving a 17-16 victory for UND.
UND IN CALIFORNIA
- This will mark the fourth straight season UND has played a game in the Golden State and the first season the Sioux will play a pair of games there. Besides their upcoming tilt at Fresno State on Saturday, the Sioux will return in early November to play at UC Davis (Nov. 5).
- The Sioux will also be looking for their first win on California soil after dropping a pair of games at UC Davis (34-21, 10/25/08; and 28-20, 11/14/09) and a heartbreaker at Cal Poly (22-21) last season (10/23).
- There are 10 California natives on the 2011 roster. Right tackle Connor McKendry (Costa Mesa, Calif.) is the lone starter of that bunch, but linebacker Garrison Goodman(San Ramon, Calif.) will see plenty of action as well.
- The trend will continue in 2012-13 as UND will make two more appearances in California, playing at San Diego State (Sept. 15) and at Sacramento State (Sept. 22), which will be UND's first Big Sky game.
NOTING THE BULLDOGS
- Fresno State will be looking for its first win of the season on Saturday after dropping a pair of road contests at Cal (36-21) and at Nebraska (42-29) to open the 2011 campaign. The home opener at Bulldog Stadium will be played on new field turf installed during the offseason at the 41,031-seat venue.
- Junior running back Robbie Rouse racked up 169 yards on 36 carries last Saturday at Nebraska, but his efforts were not enough to pull off the upset of the tenth-ranked Huskers. Rouse averaged 102 yards per game a season ago - a total that ranked 17th nationally. He is averaging 127 ypg through two games in 2011.
- The Bulldogs led 17-14 at halftime, but Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez engineered a second-half rally to seal the victory. The Bulldogs were looking to become just the second WAC team since 1975 to beat Nebraska.
- Sophomore Derek Carr is 41-for-74 for 404 yards with a pair touchdowns in his first two career starts. His big brother is David Carr, a former Fresno State signal caller and No. 1 overall draft pick of the Houston Texans (2002). David's No. 8 jersey is retired by the school.
- Defensively, it starts up the middle with senior defensive tackle Logan Harrell. One of two returning first team All-WAC performers on the roster (PK, Kevin Goessling), Harrell led the league in sacks a season ago with 10.5 and had 14 tackles for loss.
FRESNO STATE HEAD COACH
Head coach Pat Hill enters his 15th season at the helm of Fresno State's football program. He has compiled a 108-74 record during his tenure and led the Bulldogs to 11 bowl games. Hill's Fresno State squad lost to Northern Illnois, 40-17, in last year's uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (UND lost to the Huskies, 23-17 in the regular season).
- Hill's 108 career triumphs rank fourth all-time among WAC coaches and his 11 bowl victories are second most.
- His 2011 Bulldogs were picked to finish second in the WAC preseason coaches' poll - behind only Hawai'i.
FRESNO STATE'S KEY RETURNERS (2010 stats)
- Robbie Rouse, RB (1,129 rush yards, 8 TDs)
- Logan Harrell, DT (10.5 sacks, 46 tackles)
- Great West Conference
- Offensive POW
- Mitch Sutton, RB (9/4)
- Offensive POW
- College Performance Awards
- College Sports Madness
- GWC Player of the Week
- Zeb Miller, PK (9/5)
- GWC Player of the Week
- UND Coaching Staff
- Offensive POW
- Defensive POW
- Special Teams POW
- Block of the Week
- Hit of the Week
- Golden Block
- Offensive Scout of the Week
- Defensive Scout of the Week
BELOTTI NOMINATED FOR AFCA GOOD WORKS AWARD
Senior Justin Belotti is one of a record 132 collegiate football players nominated for the 2011 Allstate/AFCA Good Works Award. Twenty-two of the nominees will make up this year's team, which features 11 players from Football Bowl Subdivision teams and 11 from Football Championship Subdivision, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA teams across the country.