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Bulldogs Collect $1.35 Million, Lots of Attention for Win at Purdue

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Fresno State's Mikey Keene, left, and Levelle Bailey earned Mountain West Player of the Week honors for their performances against Purdue. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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To the victors go the spoils.

That’s certainly the case for the Fresno State football team, which went into the heart of Big Ten country and defeated the betting favorite Purdue Boilermakers, 39-35, on Saturday.

The win didn’t surprise the Bulldogs. They fully expected to win — confidence fed by ending last season with nine straight victories. It was Fresno State’s 41st victory all-time against a Power 5 conference opponent.

Credit ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt for backing the Bulldogs. Ahead of the game, he advised bettors to go with the underdogs and take the 3.5 points offered by bookmakers.

“Fresno State is tough as nails,” Van Pelt wrote. “They’re catching a small piece of candy in West Lafayette. We’ll take that nibble — for the Valley.”

As for the spoils, the Fresno State Athletic Department received a $1.35 million payday for the game. By winning, the Bulldogs collected three votes in the Associated Press Top 25. If they continue to play like they did Saturday, it won’t be long until they crack the Top 25.

In addition, quarterback Mikey Keene was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week. In his Fresno State debut, he threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Crucial for the Bulldogs: Keene led the game-winning drive by going 6-of-6 with 4:30 left and connecting with Erik Brooks for a touchdown with 59 seconds remaining.

On the other side of the ball, linebacker Levelle Bailey received Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week honors. The senior defensive captain had five tackles, 0.5  tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and two pass breakups. His last pass breakup forced a turnover on downs with 30 seconds left in the game. He also made a fourth-and-goal stop in the fourth quarter.

Everybody loves a winner — especially politicians. Here is Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer’s take on the Bulldogs’ victory.

As you might imagine, the Bulldogs’ victory was a big hit with former Fresno State QBs Derek Carr and Jake Haener.

— Fresno State Football 🏆 (@FresnoStateFB) September 4, 2023

Next up: The Bulldogs take on Eastern Washington at 6 p.m. Saturday in their home opener.

Eastern Washington lost, 35-10, at North Dakota State in its season opener.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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