A month ago, Friday’s San Jose State-Fresno State showdown had all the trappings of a classic. San Jose State appeared to be cruising through conference with big wins over Wyoming and Colorado State. Fresno State was everyone’s favorite BCS buster.
Much has changed in a month. San Jose State blew a double-digit lead to San Diego State and has yet to find its swagger, especially on defense. Fresno State’s schedule has been shown to be weak, as Rutgers and Boise State flounder; its BCS ranking has suffered as a result. A month ago, this looked like it would be for the Western division crown, as well as the newly minted Valley Cup.
It’s for much less now, but still a lot.
San Jose State isn’t even bowl eligible, and must beat the Bulldogs to even have a prayer at a postseason. Fresno State’s BCS hopes can die with a loss Friday or the following week in the Mountain West championship game. One play can be the difference between a trip to Phoenix with all the trimmings, or a disappointing slog to Las Vegas. One score could be the difference between more than $10 million for the Bulldogs.
So, yeah, a lot is riding on Friday’s game.
Here are five things to follow for the 77th meeting between the two schools and the first for the Valley Cup: