|ESPN.com: NCF Nation||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
In every conference, there's one team that seems to be the bane of everyone else's existence. Either it wins too much, talks too much smack, or dances on other team's logos after wins.
Over the next five posts, I'm going to break down my conferences -- Western Athletic, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference USA and Mid-American -- and identify the most-hated teams.
Basically, when every other team in your conference makes beating you a big deal, you're the team everyone loves to hate.
The play anyone, anywhere, anytime attitude has been great for Fresno State because it's given the school several marquee opportunities for national exposure and earned the Bulldogs some BCS street cred.
It's also made the other teams in the WAC jealous because they either can't, won't or don't want to schedule the BCS' finest to the extent that Fresno State does. To that end, Fresno State gets a call when national powerhouses need to fill games (see USC in 2005 and LSU in 2006), and they often become media darlings when they play tight with these schools (again, see the 50-42 loss to the Trojans).
If Fresno State had been in Hawaii's position last year -- undefeated by bowl season -- there would have been no talk of a soft schedule. The Bulldogs faced two ranked teams in nonconference play and traveled to Hawaii and Nevada. Considering the schedules of the five or so teams in contention for the BCS title game last year, Fresno State could have made a case to be in the conversation.
That kind of talk would give any team a big head and perhaps tie an elitist bow around its neck. So when the Bulldogs leave their maverick nonconference schedule to start their lowly WAC schedule (I say that tongue in cheek, people) there's a little bit of animosity by the teams that scheduled the likes of Kansas circa 2006 on their nonconference slate.
This season will be no different. The league's coaches picked the Bulldogs to finish first in the WAC, the first time since they tied with Boise State in 2005. That's sure to make the bulls-eye that much larger.