A reason for the ’Dogs’ season

Ah, the first weekend of December.

Time to put up the tree, hang the lights, find the sales, and, my personal favorite, settle in for championship weekend.

Not only are we celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but the college football postseason is almost upon us.

This weekend, five of the six champions from BCS conferences will be crowned and we will all finally see how the bowl games shake out.

Sounds like a great weekend for college football fans – oh by the way, Fresno State concludes the regular season on Saturday at Illinois.

With all of the games on the slate this weekend, this Saturday’s match-up between the Bulldogs and the Fighting Illini may be the least interesting.

What sounds more intriguing to the average football fan at 9 a.m. this Saturday? Pitt against Cincinnati for the Big East title and a BCS spot or a game that means nothing between unranked teams?

Illinois is 3-8 this season with no shot at a bowl game. Coach Ron Zook is already set to be retained by the school so it’s not like the Illini are playing for much.

I guess there’s the whole “senior day” thing, but this is a far cry from when this team went to the Rose Bowl two seasons ago.

On the other side is Fresno State. With a 7-4 record, the Bulldogs have already almost surely clinched a bowl spot.

The results of Saturday’s game won’t change Fresno State’s postseason destination, but at least the frequent-flyer miles keep racking up.

So why should Fresno State fans even tune in? Finding the Big Ten Network on the dial may take until halftime anyway.

It’s been a couple of weeks, but there was a time when Bulldog fans were excited about something – to be more precise, someone – Ryan Mathews.

Remember? That guy who led the nation in rushing for most of the year.

Well, No. 21 is back this weekend and although there may not be a lot on the line for either team, Mathews may etch in his name in history.

With his 1,491 yards rushing this season, Mathews needs 96 yards to break Rodney Davis’ single-season rushing record of 1,586 yards set in 2002.

If Mathews can run for four more touchdowns he will set the single-season record for rushing touchdowns. The current record stands at 17 set by Aaron Craver in 1990 and tied by Anthoney Daigle in 1992.

Let’s not forget that this may be Mathews’ final two games in a Bulldog uniform. He may not be in the Heisman race, but I guarantee Mathews will get more looks from NFL scouts than Toby Gerhart or Mark Ingram.

In his three years with the Bulldogs, Mathews was able to skyrocket to the top of the record books in career marks as well.

If Mathews can gain 54 more yards he will tie Michael Pittman for second on the Bulldogs’ all-time rushing list. Ron Rivers is No. 1 on the list with 3,473 yards.

Daigle set the Bulldogs’ career touchdown record with 35 scores from 1991-1993 and Mathews is sitting on 34.

The most amazing thing about these stats is that Mathews has missed games in all three of his seasons due to injuries. Think if he was healthy!

I’ve had the privilege of covering Bulldog football for the past three years so I’ve been lucky enough to see one of the best players in Fresno State history and all of us only have two more chances.

Finding a place to actually view this Saturday’s game may be easier said than done, but Bulldog fans are running out of opportunities to see possibly the greatest running back in school history in the red and white.

Amid all of the holiday hoopla, conference title games and “A Christmas Story” marathons this weekend, watching Mathews at work makes Saturday’s game a little more intriguing – enjoy it while you can, Bulldog fans.

Previous Story

Provost holds forum

Next Story

Fresno State receives record applications for fall 2010