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By the numbers: Wiggida-wiggida-wiggida WAC

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With my jeans and button-up flipped backward like the Daddy Mac I wish I was, it's time for the season's first edition of By The Numbers with a look at the Western Athletic Conference (RIP).

Over the last five years, the WAC established itself as one of the top non-BCS conferences in college football. Boise State grabbed the majority of the headlines -- and deservedly so -- but teams like Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii grabbed their fair share of big wins in the process.

As UC readies to travel across the country to play at Bulldog Stadium in front of an anticipated 41,000 fans, I felt like looking at the history of the upper echelon of the WAC at home against BCS opponents.

Fresno will almost certainly finish in the top tier of the WAC this year and has consistently over the last 5-10 years. In fact, under coach Pat Hill the Bulldogs suffered only one losing season since 1998.

Under the predicated hypothesis of Fresno being an upper-tier team, let's look at how the teams that finished the year in the top four of the WAC fared each season against BCS conference opponents. 

2009

Boise State (14-0, 8-0, BCS overall 1-0, Home 1-0, Road 0-0): vs. Oregon, W, 19-8

Nevada (8-5, 7-1, BCS overall 0-3, Home 0-1, Road 0-1): @ Notre Dame, L, 35-0, vs. Mizzou, L, 31-21)

Fresno (8-5, 6-2, BCS overall 1-2, Home 0-0, Road 1-2) @ Wisconsin, L, 13-10, @ Cincinnati, L, 28-20, @ Illinois, W, 53-52.

Idaho (8-5, 4-4, BCS overall 0-1, Home 0-0, Road 0-1): @Washington, L, 42-23

2008

Boise State (12-1, 8-0 BCS overall 1-0, Home 0-0, Road 1-0): @ Oregon, W, 37-32

La. Tech (8-5, 5-3 BCS overall 1-1, Home 1-0, Road 0-1): vs. Mississippi St., W, 22-14, @ No. 14 Kansas, L, 29-0

Nevada (7-6, 5-3, BCS overall 0-3, Home 0-1, Road 0-1): vs. No. 12 Texas Tech, L, 35-19, @ No. 6 Mizzou, L, 69-17, Humanitarian Bowl vs. Maryland, L, 42-35

Hawaii (7-7, 5-3, BCS overall 1-4, Home 1-2, Road 0-2): @Florida, L, 56-10, @Oregon State, L, 45-7, vs. Washington State, W, 24-10, vs. Cincinnati, L, 29-24, vs. Notre Dame, L, 49-21

Fresno (7-6, 4-4, BCS overall 2-1, Home 0-1, Road 2-0): @ Rutgers, W, 24-7, vs. No. 10 Wisconsin, L, 13-10, @UCLA, W, 36-31

2007

Hawaii (12-1, 8-0 BCS overall 1-1, Home 1-0, Road 0-0): vs. Washington, W, 35-28, Sugar Bowl vs. Georgia, L, 41-10

Boise State (10-3, 7-1, BCS overall 0-1, Home 0-0, Road 0-1): @ Washington, L, 24-10

Fresno State (9-4, 6-2, BCS overall 2-2, Home 1-0, Road 0-2): @Texas A&M, L, 47-45 OT, @Oregon, L, 52-21, vs. Kansas State, W, 45-29, Humanitarian Bowl vs. Georgia Tech, W, 40-28

Nevada (6-7, 4-4, BCS overall 0-2, Home 0-0, Road 0-2): @ Nebraska, L, 52-10, @ Northwestern, L, 36-31.

2006

Boise State (13-0, 8-0, BCS overall 2-0, Home 1-0, Road 0-0): vs. Oregon State, W, 42-14, Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma, W, 38-35

Hawaii (11-3, 7-1, BCS overall 2-2, Home 2-1, Road 0-1): @Alabama, L, 25-17, vs. Purdue, W, 42-35, vs. Oregon State, L, 35-32, vs. Arizona State, W, 41-24

San Jose (9-4, 5-3, BCS overall 1-1, Home 1-0, Road 0-1) @Washington, L, 35-29, vs. Stanford, W, 35-34

Nevada (8-5, 5-3, BCS overall 1-2, Home 1-0, Road 0-1): @ Arizona State, L, 52-21, vs. Northwestern, W, 31-21, MPC Computers Bowl vs. Miami, L, 21-20

2005

Nevada (9-3, 7-1, BCS overall 0-1, Home 0-1, Road 0-0): vs. Washington State, L, 55-21

Boise State (9-4, 7-1, BCS overall 0-3, Home 0-0, Road 0-2): @ Georgia, L, 48-13, @ Oregon State, L, 30-27, MPC Computers Bowl vs. Boston College, L, 27-21

La. Tech (7-4, 6-2, BCS overall 0-2, Home 0-0, Road 0-2): @Florida, L, 41-3, @Kansas, L, 34-14

Fresno State (8-5, 6-2, BCS overall 0-2, Home 0-0, Road 0-2): @ Oregon, L, 37-34, @USC, L, 50-42.

Overall

FRESNO STATE: 5-7 overall vs. BCS opponents, 1-1 at home, 3-6 on the road, 1-1 in bowls 

TOTAL: 16-34 overall vs. BCS opponents, 10-7 at home, 5-22 on road, 1-5 in bowl games

Well, that may be a little bit of overanalysis by the numbers, but I got nothing but time. Here's what stands out to me about this.

--- Fresno and Boise State are the only of the top WAC teams to beat BCS opponents on the road in the last five years. They have four wins away from Bulldog Stadium against BCS foes. Boise only has two.

The Bulldogs are akin to playing top teams and playing them well, no matter the location. Anybody who watched UC survive last year's 28-20 thriller at Nippert can attest to that.

The Bulldogs nearly won at Wisconsin last year and also barely lost at home, 13-10 in 2008.

--- If you are a BCS opponent at Bulldog Stadium, expect a battle. They beat Kansas State by 16 and nearly beat Wisconsin.

--- Going into the WAC stadiums against the upper echelon is not a fun proposition. There is a reason why 34 percent of these games are played away from the WAC homes. Winning there is one of those lose-lose propositions in college football.

To the untrained eye -- which many voters, etc., in college football are -- a loss there is a black eye on the season despite the fact it is a less than 50 percent proposition by recent history. However, a win there is what was supposed to happen with a bigger school playing in the WAC.

--- UC has done this before with a talented team. The Bearcats had to travel to play a quality Hawaii team in 2008 and barely survived, 29-24.

--- Here are some more Fresno vs. BCS stats from the Bulldogs game notes:

Fresno St. is 5-2 in its last seven games against BCS schools.

Fresno is 4-1 against BCS teams in bowl games during Pat Hill's tenure.

I guess all of these stats and numbers are a completely unnecessary way of saying this is one of the more difficult, most underrated openers in college football this weekend. 

In fact, it would only be fitting to leave you with one final number (while entering a disclaimer that I in no way endorse gambling on athletics), but the Bearcats are currently 3-point underdogs at Fresno. And Vegas doesn't lie.  

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1 Comment

What is exactly the reason here is a reason 34 percent of these games are played away from the WAC homes? Some wicked schemes for ripping off more money again or what?