MOSCOW, Idaho » Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter admits he has been wary while preparing to face Idaho on Saturday.
The Vandals beat Temple last week for their first win of the season, while No. 23 Fresno State had to hang on to knock off winless Hawaii.
"We’re playing a team that has got a lot of momentum," DeRuyter said. "They have a brand-new head coach in Paul Petrino, and he’s got those guys ahead of schedule."
Still, Fresno State (4-0) is more than a three-touchdown favorite over Idaho (1-4).
Last weekend, Fresno State jumped to a 42-3 lead over Hawaii midway through the third quarter, only to watch the Rainbow Warriors score 34 unanswered points before losing 42-37.
DeRuyter said his team paid too much attention to its big lead and allowed Hawaii to storm back into the game.
"We’ve got to stop looking at the scoreboard," DeRuyter said. "The scoreboard’s a liar. Our mentality has got to be we are playing for this snap."
But he acknowledged that his team survived the rally.
"When we have to get stops, we get stops," he said.
DeRuyter said the Bulldogs need to hold onto the football better.
"Ball security is something we’ve got to work on," he said. "That’s the biggest thing we have to correct."
Fresno State is the first ranked team to play in Idaho’s 16,000-seat Kibbie Dome since then-No. 4 Boise State in 2010. Idaho, which is playing as an independent this year before joining the Sun Belt next season, still has games against Ole Miss, Florida State and Arkansas State this season.
Idaho lost its first four games under Petrino before edging Temple last week 26-24.
"This is just the start," Petrino said. "It’s still a process, and we’re still going to get knocked on our butt some other time this year."
Five things to look for when Fresno State plays at Idaho on Saturday:
LUXURY CARR: Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr ranks second nationally in passing with 361 yards per game and is tied for third with 14 touchdown passes. The Bulldogs have launched a Heisman Trophy campaign for him. Against Hawaii, he completed 33 of 47 passes but was intercepted twice, ending a streak of 181 consecutive passes without a pick. "He’s probably as good as any quarterback that is out there in college football this year," Petrino said.
OFFENSIVE PUNCH: Fresno State is averaging 44 points per game and has scored 40 or more points in nine out of its past 10 games.
FRESNO DEFENSE: The Bulldogs recorded seven sacks at Hawaii. And L.J. Jones was named national defensive back of the week by the College Football Performance Awards after intercepting two passes in the win over Hawaii, including one he returned 56 yards for a touchdown.
DUAL THREAT: Freshman QB Chad Chalich threw for 310 yards and ran for 114 for the Vandals against Temple, becoming the first Vandal to accomplish that feat. DeRuyter was concerned about the dual threat. "Anytime a quarterback can do both, it gives your defense a challenge," DeRuyter said.
IDAHO HONORS: Chalich wasn’t the only Idaho hero, as freshman K Austin Rekhow made four of five field goals. On Monday, those two players were named FBS Independent offensive and special teams players of the week. "I think it’s great, any time you can have two players win player of the week," Petrino said. "And when they’re both freshmen, it’s even better."