FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The years change, but in the Mountain West, more often than not, it'll be Fresno State and Boise State for a conference championship.
That's the case again Saturday. For the fifth time in 10 years, Fresno State is playing in the Mountain West title game. It's against familiar foe Boise State, which beat the Bulldogs in the 2014 and 2017 title games.
The Bulldogs got redemption the next year, when Ronnie Rivers scampered into the end zone to finish the Bulldogs' 19-16 victory on the blue.
2018's triumph through the snow was the Bulldogs' most recent title. Heading back to Boise this weekend, head coach Jeff Tedford knows it'll be a similar challenge.
"It's very similar," Tedford said. "I mean, it's the championship game, it's at their place and the weather's probably going to be similar. We're familiar with what that environment's like. They do a great job there. Their fans are into it."
In their last meeting, Fresno State's last loss this season, the team played without its two captains, Jake Haener and Evan Williams.
"JL Skinner said he was bummed that he wasn't going to be able to have the chance to play us," Haener said. "He was like, 'It's OK, we'll see you in the championship.' And I was like, 'Alright, cool. Let's plan on it.'"
Haener and Williams both returned and have booked that return trip, thanks to a seven-game win streak.
"We got one goal, one mission and that's to get a conference title and do everything we can to do it," Haener said.
That opportunity is one of the last boxes for Haener to check, something he thinks would cement his place among other great Bulldog quarterbacks.
"That's what I put on my goal sheet every year, is 'win a conference title' and it's sitting right next to my bed," Haener said. "I give my coaches a new goal sheet, kind of a three-page document every year of what I want to accomplish, how I want to accomplish it,
and how I want to involve my teammates in that process and typed up right there at the top is 'Mountain West title.'"
Haener's right foot still features protective padding from his high ankle sprain.
David Perales left with a similar injury Friday night, and the status of the Bulldogs' sack leader is unknown.
"You could ask that question a couple different ways, I don't know," Tedford said.
We do know that Boise State's Taylen Green has developed into one of the conference's best quarterbacks. Mix in the safety Skinner on defense, and Saturday should be Fresno State's toughest challenge this season.
"I think anything worth accomplishing in life is going to be hard and some people say, 'Oh I just want to go up to Boise, get a win and do everything you can.' but I want it to be hard," Haener said. "That's how I'm going to remember it, and that's what really
pays off in this process, is when things are challenging and when things present a really big challenge to your team."