Earlier this week, Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener was named the Mountain West Conference's player of the week. A well-earned accolade, considering that he orchestrated a game-winning drive at the Rose Bowl.
With an injured hip, Haener fought through pain and played the role of hero last Saturday, throwing for 455 yards in Fresno State's thrilling 40-37 win over No. 13 UCLA. His gut-check moment occurred with 14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, as he connected with receiver Jalen Cropper for the go-ahead touchdown.
"[Haener] stayed positive the whole game, kept fighting. He knew he had to get up," Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer told The Zach Gelb Show on Thursday. "If we're going to win a football game, he had to get up. I saw him do that over and over again. I couldn't be more proud of how tough he was.
"Obviously, there's a little price to pay. You're feeling it the next day or the next few days. But man, I think he'd be the first to say it was well worth it. He's got a team full of guys who are in his corner, and that was before the game. But it's certainly even bigger now."
Haener spread the wealth against UCLA's vulnerable defense, and from start to finish. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior completed 39 of 53 passes for two scores, and connected with receivers Cropper and Josh Kelly for a combined 261 yards. UCLA also had no answer for the Bulldogs' ground game, as senior running back Ronnie Rivers amassed 136 yards on 21 attempts with a pair of touchdowns.
Through four games, Haener is the nation's leading passer -- he's thrown for 1,464 total yards, and his 73.6 completion percentage currently ranks eighth-best in the country. For the first time since 2018, Fresno State (3-1) is ranked inside the AP top-25, at No. 22, and according to the William Hill Sportsbook, the Bulldogs have the best odds (+200) to win the Mountain West title game.
The entire conversation between DeBoer and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.