San Jose State football: What makes rivalry against Fresno State special

SAN JOSE — There’s simply no way to talk about the rivalry between San Jose State and Fresno State without mentioning the 1986 game at Spartan Stadium.

Wild momentum swings, 1,072 yards of offense, 38 fourth-quarter points and 317 yards in penalties, San Jose State’s 45-41 win over Fresno State had it all, and was the defining moment of an era that saw at least one of the schools capture the conference championship nine times between 1981 and 1991.

The present-day rivalry between the Spartans and Bulldogs isn’t at that point — at least not yet. But for the first time in nearly 30 years, their meeting Saturday in Fresno will have conference title implications.

The Spartans are 4-0 for the first time since 1955 and are tied atop the Mountain West Conference with Nevada. With a win, SJSU can all but knock Fresno State (3-1) out of title contention and bolster its own chances of winning its first conference crown in 29 years.

A loss, however, would put the Spartans in a precarious spot considering the toughest part of their schedule — a gauntlet against Boise State (3-0), Hawaii (2-2) and Nevada (4-0) in successive weeks — is still on the docket.

“We know this is going to be a real intense game,” Spartans coach Brent Brennan said. “It always is. That comes with the rivalry.”

And in the case of this rivalry, it’s one that’s had its share of swings and even had its obit written.

When the teams met in November 1991, the Mercury News headline read, “Fresno, SJS both will lose. Spartans, Bulldogs end rivalry Saturday.”

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At the time members of the Big West Conference, Fresno State had announced that it was joining the Western Athletic Conference for the 1992 season and had no room for a non-conference game against its longtime rival.

The 1991 game, won by Fresno 31-28, was to be the last.

“The more I’m with it, the more I think it’s a terrible mistake,” then-Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney said before the 1991 game. “There’s a lot lost not playing San Jose State. It’s a loss of money, a loss of a rivalry. We’ll fill (our stadium) against Air Force, but we’ve played Utah and it isn’t San Jose State. If we had 50,000 seats, we’d fill it for San Jose State.”

The teams opened the season against one another in 1994, a non-conference game won by Fresno State 43-13.

Two years later, San Jose State joined an expanded WAC, and the series against Fresno State resumed until the Bulldogs left the Spartans again, splitting for the Mountain West Conference in 2012.

San Jose State followed Fresno State to the Mountain West a year later and the rivals renewed their series in 2013 with a game for the ages.

The Spartans won 62-52 over the No. 16-ranked Bulldogs, who brought a 10-0 record to San Jose, as David Fales threw for 547 yards and six touchdowns to outduel Fresno State stars Derek Carr and Davante Adams.

The victory made …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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