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Utah State football: Fresno State determined to finish strong
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Derek Carr claims he doesn't have much to hold over his brother's head.

He's got a point: David Carr was a No. 1 draft pick, made millions of dollars and was on the winning team in the biggest football game of them all.

"My brother's got a Super Bowl ring," he said. "There's not much I can say to him."

But make no mistake: Derek has left a legacy at Fresno State that should eclipse his brother's shadow. It's Derek, who only was in elementary school during David's Heisman campaign-level season, who now owns the record books, who now has more wins, touchdowns and passing yards than his brother. He did something David never did as a Bulldog: win a conference championship.

And the excitement surges in the 22-year-old quarterback's voice as he eyes another.

"There's no other way I'd rather have it," Derek said. "The No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense. This is the kind of game you live for."

Derek Carr is at the forefront of a Fresno State team that will be battling Utah State for the Mountain West crown Saturday. After losing a shot at busting the BCS when they fell last weekend, the Bulldogs will look to get their 13th win at home for their second straight conference title.

As with any one-loss team, Fresno State's foundation and talent has carried it. But so has its desire.

"There is no secret," said receiver Davante Adams, one of the nation's leaders in receiving yards (1,477) and touchdowns (22). "We have a lot of great players who work really hard. We've stuck together as a team this year."

The Bulldogs have been hard to beat since Tim DeRuyter and his staff took over. They haven't lost at home in the last two seasons, and with a high-powered passing attack, they don't plan to lose Saturday.

Fresno State was a tough out last year, winning a share of the conference championship. But they also faltered in a bowl game loss to SMU last season, a 43-10 loss that stung perhaps even worse than their latest defeat.

The offseason led Fresno State to work on not letting down like it did in the Hawaii Bowl. Just about all of the team's strengths last year are better this year: Carr, the receivers, the pass rush. Even without BCS hopes any longer, the Bulldogs are looking to avoid a late-season letdown.

"It is hard at first after a game like that," Derek Carr said. "You never want to lose, and you try so hard to be perfect. But now that's behind us, and ahead of us is a special opportunity to win a Mountain West championship in front of our home fans."

Fresno State thought it might host Boise State again to replay a 41-40 shootout that went to the wire in September. But Utah State should be formidable as well, the Bulldogs said, and the Aggies appear to have one of the hardest-working defenses they've seen on film this year.

Fresno doesn't plan on letting Utah State end their season on another down note, especially at home.

"I could not have written a better remedy to get back that feeling of what this Bulldog team is," DeRuyter said. "I expect these guys to show up with their lunch pails and fight for a conference championship."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon —

Fresno State at a glance

The Bulldogs have put up some gaudy offensive numbers this season:

• No. 4 in scoring offense (47.3 ppg)

• No. 2 in total offense (580.6 ypg)

• No. 1 in passing offense (410.3 ypg)

• No. 12 in passing efficiency (160.2 rating)

•Â No. 5 in sacks allowed (8)

• No. 2 in first downs (330) —

Heisman push

Senior quarterback Derek Carr is pushing for a Heisman trophy:

• Leads nation in touchdown passes (45)

• Leads nation in passing yards (4,462)

• Leads nation in completions per game (35.3)

• No. 4 in completion percentage (70.3 percent)

Utah State football • Bulldogs eager to test Aggies' defense.
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