The Fresno State Bulldogs defeated the Washington State Cougars in the 2022 Jimmy Kimmel Los Angeles Bowl 29-6.
WSU (7-6) never got the offense rolling and Fresno State (10-4) took advantage of the weakened Cougar front seven with a dominant running game. Bulldogs’ running back Jordan Mims gashed the Cougars for 205 rushing yards on 18 carries.
The Cougars knew they’d be without three starting linebackers defensively before the week, but didn’t know they’d be without safety Sam Lockett and cornerback Chau Smith-Wade until hours prior to kickoff. Making it five of 11 starters out on defense for the Cougars.
Fresno State elected to set the tone early by winning the opening toss and opting to receive the kickoff. They did just that with a six-play, 80 yard touchdown drive to take the early 7-0 lead and made it look way too easy. WSU’s offense could only muster 19 total yards of offense in the first quarter to the Bulldogs 166. Cam Ward ended the first quarter with a scramble to the right side for five yards on third down that was ruled just enough to give the Cougars a first down. Between the quarter break however, it was reviewed and overturned, giving WSU a fourth and one from their own 23 to start the second quarter.
Jake Dickert and co. rolled the dice. Nakia Watson took the direct snap running right and could only get back to the line of scrimmage, resulting in a turnover on downs and the Bulldogs taking over just outside the red zone. On a third and one from the WSU 3, the Bulldogs ran their own direct snap to running back play for at touchdown to push the FSU lead to 14-0. A short return partnered with a holding call on the kickoff return started WSU’s fourth drive of the day at their own seven. On third and 14 from the WSU three, the Bulldogs brought the heavy blitz and forced Ward to roll all the way back and out of the end zone for a safety. After a series of punts, the Bulldogs threatened to score again before the half, driving all the way to the WSU 47. With just seconds remaining, WSU brought pressure that Jake Haener was able to escape from, roll right and deliver a strike to a wide-open Nikko Remigo. With triple zeros on the clock, Remigo couldn’t outrace the clock, nor safety Jaden Hicks, who pushed Remigo out of bound short of the goal line, ending the first half.
WSU’s received the second half kickoff and seemed to make proper adjustments with a promising drive getting into Bulldog territory. On third and six, Ward felt the pressure, rolled right and threw it deep for Lincoln Victor. It instead was intercepted by LJ Early. After the defense forced a Bulldog punt, the WSU offense kept the motor running. A 21-yard catch and run from TE Billy Riviere and a one-yard touchdown run from Watson bookended the nine play, 60-yard drive from the Cougars to get them on the board. WSU could not convert the two-point conversion to bring the game within a possession.
Mims continued to thrash the WSU defense with two carries for a total of 51 yards, putting the Bulldogs in the red zone. Haener and Remigo finally got their touchdown connection this time to put Fresno State up 22-6. On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, WSU put the game on the line on a fourth and three from their own 38 and couldn’t convert. Mims helped deliver the nail in the coffin on the Cougars season with his second touchdown of the afternoon for the 29-6 lead and victory.
The Cougars finish the 2022 season at 7-6 with all six losses coming to 10-win teams if Oregon can win their bowl game over North Carolina.
Now begins a monumental offseason for Dickert and the program. He’ll be tasked with hiring a new offensive and defensive coordinator, and likely a few assistants as well. This is of course is stacked on top of filling in holes in the roster through the transfer portal and putting the finishing touches on the 2023 recruiting class.
We will see Dickert and the rest of the Cougar football team in 259 days when they open the season in Fort Collins against the Colorado State Rams on September 2nd.