Fresno State Coach Pat Hill is excited about having a Southeastern Conference team - Ole Miss - come to Fresno.
"We've paid our dues to be able to host an SEC team. We've gone on the road a lot against bigger name opponents and it's nice to get some reciprocation," said Hill in his Monday press teleconference. "We've had some big names come in here from the Pac 10 and Big 10 before but this is our first SEC opponent visiting here."
The Bulldogs, 2-2, lost their first two games - against the Cal Bears and ranked Nebraska in Lincoln - but they have since righted the ship and defeated North Dakota and Idaho.
"We're playing better now," said Hill. "Our defense played really well the second half of the Idaho game - we held them to 53 yards of total offense. We are gaining some confidence."
Now come the 1-3 Rebels, that Hill has a lot of respect for and who defeated his team in Oxford last year 55-38.
"It's great for our fans to get to see what SEC football is all about. We look forward to the challenge," he noted. "They have outstanding athletes who can really run. They are big and physical, like all SEC teams. They have struggled this year offensively, but in that league, they just knock each other out week-in and week-out.
"They played Georgia last week and there were a lot of athletes on that field. They had some big plays called back or that game might have gone differently."
Hill said a key to the game will be special teams play and he likes what he sees from the Rebels.
"They have one of the best punters and best punting units in the country and they have a fine returner in number 3 (Jeff Scott)," Hill continued. "The kicking game will be huge in this game and we will have to limit their big plays in the kicking game.
"Last year, we played sound against them except for about seven plays. They run trick plays and plays of that nature and they have good athletes, so we have to limit the big-play possibilities that beat us last year and are so visible in their kicking game."
Offensively and defensively, Hill said his team's objectives are simple.
"On defense we will have to stop the run and limit the big plays," he said. "Their big back number 34 (Brandon Bolden) had over 200 yards against us last year. On offense, we have to pick up the blitz and we have to handle their line movement and different things they do up front.
"They had a real threat of the option with (Jeremiah) Masoli. That gave them a big-play dimension. This year, Scott is a phenomenal player, a big-play threat every time he touches it. I expect a physical game. We had some success against them throwing the ball last year, but we had an experienced OL. We will have to protect our quarterback to have a chance."
Fresno's trigger man, Derek Carr, is 76-128 for 1010 yards through four games, but Fresno has also shown some balance with TB Robbie Rouse already rushing for 477 yards, a 119 per game average.
"Derek is playing very well. He's doing a great job managing our offense. He's checking at the line very well, he's seeing everything we need him to see and he's adjusting things properly. We have been slowed a bit with our offensive line and some injuries. Now, we have four of our OL that have a total of 11 starts, so we are inexperienced up front, but progressing," he stated. "Our receivers are young, but they are getting better and we feel they have big-play potential.
"We are getting more balance and are producing right now. We need to stay balanced against Mississippi."
The Ole Miss coordinators were pleased with the effort the Rebels gave in the 27-13 loss to Georgia…