Bulldogs (3-0) come on strong in second half

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Fresno State Bulldogs pulled off

another upset. Or did they?

In the first half Fresno State looked like it wasn't quite awake yet. The time difference was a factor for the Bulldogs early on. The key was the way the third quarter began. Wisconsin had an opportunity to come out and assert control of the game, but Bernard Berrian's kickoff return changed everything.

Then Jim Sorgi threw an interception, and the Bulldogs scored again and made a two-point conversion to go ahead for good. It seemed like all of the emotion went Fresno State's way. The Badgers open the door with a blown coverage on special teams, and the Bulldogs went right through it.

Fresno State was able to accent its speed. The Bulldogs did everything they could to get as many receivers on the field in wide-open sets. Their receivers didn't try to make moves to get away from defenders; they just ran past them. Fresno State needed to get yards after the catch on short passes, and it did. And Wisconsin tackled poorly at times.

Overall, Fresno State played excellent defense in the second half. Alan Harper, in particular, played great up front against a big offensive line. The Bulldogs really took the Badgers out of their game and shut down the running game better in the second half to secure a tremendous road win.

Where does Fresno State fit in the national scope? The Bulldogs deserve to be in the top 10-12. Looking at their schedule, they have a great shot of going undefeated. They have a tough road test at Colorado State, but they will be favored. Fresno State should continue to climb the polls, while others suffer a loss or two. I would be extremely surprised and disappointed if the Bulldogs ran the table and didn't finish in the top six.

"We're for real! We're for real!" the Bulldogs hollered after

they defeated Wisconsin 32-20 for the school's first victory over a

Big Ten team.

"We were the better team this afternoon," coach Pat Hill

declared after the Bulldogs (unranked ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) beat the 23rd-ranked but

favored Badgers behind Bernard Berrian's 300 all-purpose yards.

Hill's crusade to move the Western Athletic Conference favorites

into consideration for a BCS bowl certainly gained momentum with

the victory before 78,506 fans -- the largest crowd ever to see the

Bulldogs win.

And, in their eyes, it legitimized earlier upsets of Colorado

and Oregon State.

The Bulldogs, in their first game as a ranked team since 1993,

trailed 20-10 at halftime. But they weren't intimidated by the

Badgers or their frenzied faithful at Camp Randall Stadium.

"We didn't work hard all summer to come to Wisconsin and

lose," defensive tackle Alan Harper said. "We came out to win.

Otherwise, people would have said the first two games were a


The Bulldogs are the first team since Colorado in 1995 to beat

the Badgers in a nonconference game at Camp Randall Stadium.

Hill said there was no denying his team's legitimacy now.

"Well, this was a big one, because I think today we played

against a team that I don't think (will cite) any excuses," Hill


No "We took them lightly" or "The better team didn't win."

"Every game I've ever lost as a head coach at Fresno State, my

answer's been, 'We weren't good enough.' Period," Hill said.

"Today, we were good enough."

Thanks to Berrian, whose big day was capped by a game-turning

96-yard touchdown return of the second-half kickoff. That sparked a

22-0 spurt and dropped the Badgers to 1-2 for the first time since

1991, Barry Alvarez's first season as coach.

"Fresno State is a good football team," Alvarez said. "I

thought they showed a lot of character, they showed that they're a

veteran team and a good football team coming on the road, falling

behind and being able to come back and win."

Fresno State is already talking about going undefeated and with

playmakers like Berrian, you can see why. He had eight receptions

for 102 yards, two carries for 16 yards, two punt returns for 29

yards and four kickoff returns for 153 yards.

The killer was the kickoff return.

"We never seemed to recover after that," Alvarez said.

"I thought the first half offensively we were able to keep them

off-balance, which allowed us to run the ball and throw," Alvarez

said. "In the second half when we got behind, we got predictable

and were put into passing situations where they could really tee

off and blitz."

Fresno State's Tierre Sams picks off a pass as Lee Evans watches in the Bulldogs' win Saturday.
Fresno State's Tierre Sams picks off a pass as Lee Evans watches in the Bulldogs' win Saturday.

Berrian's TD return gave him 287 yards just 14 seconds into the

third quarter. His day was just about done -- he added a 12-yard

catch and a 1-yard run -- and so was the Badgers'.

Alec Greco ran in the conversion to pull the Bulldogs to 20-18.

Two plays later, Tierre Sams stepped in front of Lee Evans, who

had seven catches for a career-best 182 yards, and intercepted Jim

Sorgi's pass at the Wisconsin 31.

David Carr, who was 22-of-38 for 240 yards with two TDs and one

interception, needed just four plays to give the Bulldogs their

first lead with a 16-yard scoring strike to Rodney Wright. Carr

carried in the 2-point conversion for a 26-20 lead.

Asen Asparuhov added field goals of 34 and 17 yards.

Anthony Davis and Evans, who entered the day leading the nation

in total yards rushing (277) and receiving (303), ignited the

Badgers after the Bulldogs deferred on the opening kickoff until

the second half.

Evans caught a 24-yard pass on the Badgers' first play and then

Davis reeled off a 48-yard run to the Bulldogs 5. Davis gained

another 4 yards before Sorgi took it in himself just 1:14 into the


The Bulldogs didn't back down, picking on freshman cornerback

Scott Starks, making his first collegiate start. Starks surrendered

three third-down receptions on his first series, including a

20-yard touchdown strike to Marque Davis that tied it at 7.

After a 68-yard touchdown run by Anthony Davis was negated by a

holding penalty, Sorgi hit Evans on a 53-yard touchdown pass and a

14-7 lead.

In the second quarter, Starks' interception at the Badgers 19

led to Mike Allen's 50-yard field goal that gave Wisconsin a 20-10

halftime lead.

After Hill told his team at halftime that losing wasn't an

option, Berrian quickly turned the game in Fresno State's favor.

"This is not a surprise at all," Berrian said. "We're not

talking about being a big-time team. We are a big-time team."