Ever since Pat Hill took over Fresno State in 1997, the Bulldogs have been known for their ability to knock off or put scares into some of the top teams in the country.
Despite all that nonconference success, one thing that has eluded Hill during his entire time in Fresno has been an outright WAC title.
``We've had some letdowns in the month of October,'' Hill said this week. ``Sometimes you slow down and try to take a little breather, but there are no breathers. Hopefully this team understands that.''
The 22nd-ranked Bulldogs (3-1) open conference play on Saturday against defending WAC champion Hawaii (1-3, 0-1).
The Warriors have won two straight against the Bulldogs, including a 68-37 victory in Fresno in 2006 that Hill hopes will serve as some sort of motivation this week.
eat that we open up with Hawaii at home. That's always been a very tough opponent for us. The last time they came to Fresno, they put one on us pretty good,'' Hill said. ``I'm not worried about a letdown. We haven't had a letdown yet. We can't afford to have a letdown as a football team. We're not the type of team that can just show up. We have to play every week.''
Since the WAC split into two conferences, with a group leaving to form the Mountain West following the 1998 season, the Bulldogs have been the most consistent team left.
But after finishing in a three-way tie for first place with Hawaii and TCU in 1999, the Bulldogs haven't been able to win even a share of the title since then.
They've lost at least two conference games every year, including back-to-back October losses to Boise State and Hawaii after making it all the way to No. 8 in the AP poll in 2001. Then after playing No. 1 Southern California to the wire late in the 2005 season, the Bulldogs needed just one win for at least a share of the title.
Fresno State lost at Nevada and at home to Louisiana Tech and finished tied for third place. The Bulldogs slipped to fifth place in 2006 and finished third last season.
t play well. I don't know what the reason was but I'm not going to blame it on our games out of conference.''
The Warriors won the WAC last season, racing through the conference undefeated and making it all the way to a BCS berth in the Sugar Bowl.
But with quarterback Colt Brennan gone to the NFL and coach June Jones to SMU, it's been a tough go in coach Greg McMackin's first season.
Hawaii's only win came at home against Weber State of the lower-division FCS. In three games against FBS teams, the Warriors have been outscored 93-34.
One of the biggest problems has been at quarterback, where Hawaii has started three players in four games in search of a replacement for Brennan. Injuries and other issues have made it hard to settle on a starter, but Inoke Funaki is expected to get his third start this week.
``People think we can't make a decision,'' McMackin said. ``It's not that. Every week it's a new problem and this week it's the same situation. In this offense, you need repetition. ... It hasn't been a position that's been very stable for us and it has detracted from our success.''
After ranking in the top 4 nationally in yards passing per game in each of the past nine seasons, the Warriors are last in the WAC and 58th in the nation with 216.2 yards per game this season.
15-game conference winning streak.
``Our team is right with us,'' McMackin said. ``Now we are in a situation that we don't control our destiny in the league. We've got to win one game a week, and win six games to go to a bowl game. We have to get better every week, but we improved more as a team in these last two weeks than we have ever before.''

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