Matt Weir / The Collegian
Fresno State Bulldogs (6-4, 5-2 WAC) vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (3-7, 2-4 WAC)
The Fresno State Bulldogs received some bad news Tuesday. The ’Dogs’ star and the nation’s leading rusher, Ryan Mathews, has been ruled out for Saturday’s game.
Mathews, who is averaging 149 rushing yards per game and has scored 14 rushing touchdowns in only 10 games, suffered a mild concussion in the Bulldogs’ 52-14 defeat at Nevada last Saturday.
In a press release, Fresno State coach Pat Hill said that the health of Mathews is a priority.
Last week, after Mathews was injured, the Bulldogs entire team fell apart, failing to score any points and allowing the Wolf Pack to put up 35 points in the final 40 minutes of the contest.
The shock of seeing their best player go down clearly had a strong, negative effect on the team. According to Hill, the players have a chance to earn their dignity back after a demoralizing loss.
“We need to earn our respect back and earn our pride back as a football team,” Hill said.
The best news from this situation: the decision to keep Mathews out was made four days before kickoff. The team will have had plenty of time to prepare for a very important game without Mathews.
Tailbacks Lonyae Miller and Anthony Harding must be ready in Mathews’ absence. Combined, the two backs have 67 carries for 306 yards, far behind the production of Mathews.
But there certainly will not be a better time for the two seniors to shine. Saturday will be their, and 17 other seniors’, final game at Bulldog Stadium.
Louisiana Tech is coming off arguably its best game of the 2009 season – a loss at LSU.
The Western Athletic Conference’s (WAC) other Bulldogs made the trip to Death Valley to take on the Tigers last Saturday and kept things close, losing by only eight points, 24-16.
The Bulldogs played tough defense, holding LSU’s quarterback Jarrett Lee to 7-of-22 passing for only 105 yards, and the Tigers only gained 246 total yards.
Louisiana Tech’s loss at LSU was its fourth in a row, but the Bulldogs have a real chance of breaking their losing streak and picking up their first road victory of the year tomorrow.
Two of Louisiana Tech’s best playmakers, tailback Daniel Porter and receiver Philip Livas, did not finish the game at LSU due to injury.
But luckily for the Bayou Bulldogs, both Porter and Livas are expected to be on the field tomorrow.
Porter ranks No. 7 in the WAC in rushing, averaging 79 yards per game. Last season against Fresno State, Porter had a career-high 189 yards, averaging 9.5 yards per carry.
Livas is a decent receiver, but his biggest impact is on kick and punt returns. He is No. 2 in the WAC, averaging 28 yards per kick return with one touchdown this season. And in their 2008 meeting, Livas had an 81-yard punt return to the house.
Last year, Fresno State gave up 280 rushing yards to Louisiana Tech. Judging by Fresno State’s defensive performance last week, both Porter and Livas may again have career-type days.