Derek Carr was only 10 years old.

Now all grown up at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, little brother remembers vividly watching David Carr lead Fresno State to a season-opening victory over Colorado 11 years ago.

Especially the part when the television camera's showed David running up the field celebrating a key touchdown pass in the Bulldogs' 24-22 win at Folsom Field.

"I didn't realize how big that win was. I just grew up thinking every time my brother played, his team usually won," Carr said during a phone interview with the Camera. "It didn't hit me until I got older how big a game it was for us."

Under Pat Hill, Fresno State was the original BCS buster. The program has racked up 12 more wins against teams from automatic qualifying conferences since 2003.

The Buffs rebounded from the loss in 2001 to win the Big 12 championship and earn a Fiesta Bowl berth. The Bulldogs were ranked as high as No. 8 that season after a 6-0 start before finishing 11-3.

David Carr was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft after setting a single-season school record with 4,839 yards passing and 46 touchdowns. He is currently working as Eli Manning's backup with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Fresno State and CU meet again on Saturday at Bulldog Stadium (6 p.m., CBS Sports Network).

While Jon Embree is looking to get his alma mater a fourth win in Game No. 16 of a painful rebuilding process, Derek Carr is trying to get his program back on the national map as it transitions from the WAC to the Mountain West.


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"Apple don't fall far from the tree," Embree, who was on Gary Barnett's staff in 2001, said when asked about facing another quarterbacking Carr. "I don't know if his mom or dad had the arm, but they passed the gene down. He's a good player. Great release, lot of velocity on the ball, he's accurate. He's not afraid to sit in there and wait for his receiver to make the throw and all that. He's a very good player."

Carr was named the Mountain West preseason offensive player of the year in July. So far the junior from Bakersfield, Calif., is living up to the hype by completing 68.1 percent of his passes with 532 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Fresno State is coming off a 42-25 loss at No. 4 Oregon. The speedy Ducks surged out to a 35-6 lead in the first half before the Bulldogs bit back.

"It gave us a lot of confidence. We played in the first half like ... you know what," Carr said. "I'll just say we didn't play well or execute our game plan. But we came out in second half and really took it to them. I know their players were shocked because of what they were saying to me.

"I think we know we can play with anyone in the country."

Even though CU has opened the season with back-to-back losses to Colorado State and Sacramento State, the Bulldogs view this as an opportunity to make another statement.

Fresno State is 11-5 all-time in home games against Pac-12 schools.

"When we get any BCS school walking down our ramp, we're going to be pretty fired up for that one," Carr said.

Carr threw the ball 47 times against Oregon, completing 29 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown. Starting running back Robbie Rouse had 115 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown.

Fresno State is well aware of the fact that the Buffs had trouble stopping Sacramento State's running game and are relying on three true freshmen in the secondary due to injuries.

"They're really talented if they are playing as freshmen at a school like that," Carr said. "Obviously, they're good at what they do. But they haven't played that many games at this level, and our experience at wide receiver with coverages, techniques and leverage should help us."

With senior free safety Ray Polk still out with an ankle injury, Parker Orms is the veteran leader in the secondary. The junior is seeking some redemption after CU allowed Sacramento State signal caller Garrett Safron to complete 25-of-37 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

"We've got to step up and we can't let big plays happen like we did the last few games," Orms said. "(Carr's) accurate. He's got good receivers, a good running game, too. He's got a good back behind him. They can run the ball and throw the ball, so we've got to be good at stopping the run and defending the pass."

Boise State is set to leave in 2013 for the Big East. With the previous departures of Utah (Pac-12) and TCU (Big 12), the Mountain West really needs a program to emerge as a consistent top-10 threat capable of stealing BCS bowl bids or perhaps even sneaking into the four-team playoff down the road.

Fresno State has a history of performing well in perceived David vs. Goliath matchups.

"It would help out a bunch if we could get back to that," Carr said. "I think that's why they want us in the Mountain West."

It sounds like first-year Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter, whose team is a 14-point favorite in Las Vegas, is trying to convince the 2012 Bulldogs that they're going to be facing the 2001 Buffs on Saturday night.

"I know they are a well-coached football team. Obviously, they are not happy with their first two results," DeRuyter said on the Mountain West coaches teleconference. "We expect a team that's going to play their absolute best game of the year against us."