Playing highly ranked teams has become almost commonplace for Fresno State ever since Pat Hill became coach.
In 12 seasons with the Bulldogs, Hill has lived by his mantra of being willing to play anybody, anywhere at anytime. That philosophy sent Fresno State into some of the most difficult environments in college football - the horseshoe at Ohio State, the L.A. Coliseum against USC, into Death Valley against LSU, as well as games at Tennessee, Oklahoma and UCLA.
The next big game for Fresno State figures to have a little bit different feel to it, with the Bulldogs (1-0) getting to stay home instead of getting on a plane to host No. 10 Wisconsin (2-0) on Saturday night.
m, this area and the whole valley,'' quarterback Tom Brandstater said. ``Every time I go out to dinner or go out, people come up to me. There's been more and more pregame buzz than ever before. It's a combination of how high expectations are and having such a good team come here to play.''
The game is being billed as the biggest in Bulldog Stadium history. It's the first time two ranked teams have ever squared off there and no team ranked higher than the Badgers has ever visited Fresno.
Special T-shirts have been printed and the campus has been energized ever since the Bulldogs returned home after winning at Rutgers 24-7 in the season opener Sept. 1.
``That's why we're in it, to play these kinds of games,'' Hill said. ``We have had teams ranked in the top 10 come in here before but never with so much on the line early in the season.''
Fresno State has played 35 games against teams from BCS conferences since Hill came aboard in 1997. After losing the first nine of those contests, the Bulldogs have gone 13-13 since 2000 against teams from the big-time conferences. Only Utah, with 14, has more wins over the big boys among non-BCS teams in that span.
n four of those five games, earning a national reputation.
``I heard a little nickname they've got, the Giant Killers or whatever,'' Wisconsin linebacker Jaevery McFadden said. ``That's a real good team, you've got to respect that.''
This game was set up years ago as part of a two-for-one deal that includes two games at Camp Randall Stadium. Fresno State won 32-20 in 2001 and returns to Madison next season. The teams also played at Camp Randall Stadium in 2002 as part of a separate deal, with Wisconsin winning 23-21.
The Bulldogs' win in 2001 behind David Carr was part of a 6-0 start that put Fresno State in the conversation for a possible BCS bid. Consecutive losses to Boise State and Hawaii ended that talk, and Fresno State is still looking for its opportunity in an elite bowl.
A win against Wisconsin is necessary if the Bulldogs want to make it to the BCS this season.
``Our goal is to win every game. If we do that I'm sure the BCS will be calling,'' Brandstater said. ``This is a big part of our success. We have to win all our games. This is one of the big ones to push us over the edge. This will be a highlight for us.''
There are big stakes in this game for the Badgers as well, who hope to enter the Big Ten season undefeated and move up even further in the polls.
o gain national exposure as well,'' coach Bret Bielema said. ``We have an opportunity to go and play a Top 25 football team. There are people in this area that haven't been able to see the fact that we're playing a Top 25 team on the road and a lot of people don't go out and do that.''
They will have to deal with a potent ground game led by Ryan Mathews, who ran for 163 yards and three scores against Rutgers and has 17 touchdowns in 12 career games.
Wisconsin will be helped out by the return of star tight end Travis Beckum, who missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.
The Badgers were able to pass the ball well last week even without Beckum. After throwing just 10 passes in his first start for Wisconsin, Allan Evridge was 17-for-26 passes for 308 yards and a touchdown against Marshall last week.
But the offense still revolves around tailback P.J. Hill, who ran for 210 yards in the opener against Akron.
``I think they got a lot of confidence in their passing game against Marshall. But they're still going to lead with the run,'' Pat Hill said. ``They are a conventional type of offense that is able to spread the field at time with formation. But I still think if you're going to have a chance to beat Wisconsin you need to be able to stop their run game.''

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