Idaho Vandals face nation’s top rusher |

Idaho Vandals face nation’s top rusher

Associated Press Writer

The nation’s leading rusher comes to the Kibbie Dome on Saturday when Fresno State plays surprising Idaho.

Ryan Mathews is averaging 164 yards per game, and will pose a major challenge for a porous Idaho rush defense.

Idaho coach Robb Akey said the problem is basically a vision thing.

“We’ve got to do a better job with our eyes getting to where we belong,” Akey said of his defense.

The Vandals hope to limit Mathews’ big gains, and come up with a few big plays of their own as they seek their eighth win of the season.

Idaho (7-2, 4-1 WAC) is enjoying the nation’s biggest turnaround, and has already won five more games than last year. Fresno State (5-3, 4-1) has won four straight games after a slow start that included losses to Boise State and Cincinnati.

The teams are tied for third in the WAC, after Nevada and No. 5 Boise State, and the game will be watched by a representative of the New Mexico Bowl.

Idaho has not beaten Fresno State since 1967, and never since joining the WAC in 2005.

The Vandals are coming off a thrilling 35-34 win over Louisiana Tech, made possible by two touchdowns by DeMaundray Woolridge in the final six minutes. Woolridge leads the WAC with 14 touchdowns.

Idaho receiver Max Komar caught seven passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, while Nathan Enderle threw for 327 yards.

Akey was unhappy his team fell behind 34-21 in the fourth quarter, and said they will need a much stronger effort against Fresno State if they want to remain undefeated at home.

“This will be a very physical ballgame,” Akey said.

Fresno State also had to come back to beat Utah State last week. The Bulldogs trailed 27-17 at halftime, but shut out Utah State in the second half for a 31-27 win.

“They gave us a lot of problems,” Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. “We played very well to win the game in the end.”

Mathews ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns against Utah State, including the game-winner.

One more win would make the Bulldogs bowl eligible for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.