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It may be history for Fresno

Bulldogs get their victory in the Rose Bowl, but they might not get another shot.

September 28, 2008|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

This is why Fresno State has had trouble booking Pacific 10 Conference football teams on its schedule in, well, forever.

Because about 17,000 or so red-wearing, shouting, singing, high-fiving Bulldogs fans were swaying to the beat of, "Smash-mouth, cart 'em off the field, 'say uncle' football." That's how Bulldogs Coach Pat Hill described Fresno State's style in its 36-31 win over UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

This is why Fresno State might have a hard time sweet-talking its way into another game with UCLA . . . or USC . . . or Stanford . . . or California . . . or . . .

Bulldogs linebacker Chris Carter is the brother of UCLA defensive end David Carter.

Both played at Fontana Kaiser High, and Chris said he and David spoke nearly every day last week, even at midnight Friday. "My brother thought [UCLA] was going to win, talking that smack all week," Chris said. "And I let him do all the talking because I knew we were going to be doing all the playing."

This is why future Fresno State players might not get to walk into history at the Rose Bowl. That's how Bulldogs quarterback Tom Brandstater of Turlock, Calif., described the feeling he got playing here. "I was walking in history," Brandstater said. "And it was nice to see a sea of red. So it was almost like a home game."

Bulldogs fans travel well, and the Bulldogs teams drive Pac-10 teams crazy.

Fresno State is 5-7 in its last 12 games against Pac-10 opponents -- and has won those games with a budget estimated to be at least $4 million less than the cheapest Pac-10 program, according to Hill.

Since 1980, Fresno State is 18-21 against Pac-10 teams. Also not bad because only nine of those 39 games were in Fresno.

While the 25th-ranked Bulldogs were favored by about a touchdown, it didn't mean everyone thought they'd beat woebegone UCLA.

"We'll always be the underdog when we come to the Pac-10," said tailback Ryan Mathews of Bakersfield, who had a game-high 166 yards rushing, scored a touchdown, and secured the Bulldogs' victory with a seven-yard gain on a fourth-and-one play from the UCLA 26 with 2:53 left in the game.

That bullish run came just after the Bruins had used their second timeout. Fresno State was able to run out the clock.

And here's another reason Fresno State may not have to check the mail for an invitation onto a Pac-10 team's schedule: because the Bulldogs will step on toes, mess up the place and stay too long.

Rose Bowl security guards were trying to point Bulldogs fans to the exits an hour after the game. "It's time to go!" one guard yelled at a group of 10 Bulldogs fans who were taking photos.

Fresno State tight end Bear Pascoe, from Porterville, Calif., said beating UCLA at the Rose Bowl fulfilled a dream.

"Ever since I was a little kid I've wanted to come down and win in this stadium with all the history behind it," Pascoe said. "For the team, it was great. It sets up our team at another level. We're at the table and we're eating with the big dogs."

Problem is, the big dogs usually don't want to share the table.

"The pressure is on," Hill said. "The other California schools have to schedule us. It's a revenue-making game for other people's teams."

Hill has been making that sales pitch for a while now, though. And as the Fresno State band played a victory song and Bulldogs fans overstayed their welcome, it seemed as if all that revenue doesn't matter as much as the scoreboard numbers.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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