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Vandals need win tonight to keep bowl hopes alive

by MARK NELKE
Sports Editor | November 27, 2010 8:00 PM

When trying to judge the relative strengths of teams, using their performances against Boise State is generally not very telling.

Two weeks ago, Idaho fell behind Boise State 38-0 at halftime en route to a 52-14 loss. Last week, Fresno State played by most accounts a decent game at Boise - and still lost 51-0.

Fresno State is considered one of the top four teams in the Western Athletic Conference, and is already bowl eligible. If Idaho (5-6, 2-4) can find a way to win at Fresno State (6-4, 4-3) tonight, the Vandals would need only to beat lowly San Jose State (1-10, 0-6) at home next week to finish the regular season bowl eligible for the second straight season.

But first things first, starting with Fresno State - which has beaten Idaho five straight times since the Vandals joined the WAC in 2005.

"They run the ball well, they can throw it, that number 43, woo hee! he might be one of the best defensive ends in our conference," Idaho coach Robb Akey said.

43 would be senior defensive end Chris Carter, who ranks 10th in the NCAA with nine sacks, and is 13th with 14.5 tackles for loss.

Running back Ryan Mathews left after his junior year and was a first-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers. His successor, sophomore Robbie Rouse, has rushed for 1,014 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games.

"This running back is as much a threat as the one they had before, and the ones they've had before," Akey said.

Senior quarterback Ryan Colburn had a miserable night vs. Boise State, but overall has passed for 2,006 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions, and is completing 60 percent of his passes.

"They're going to play physical football with you," Akey said. "Their quarterback can throw the ball and they've got wideouts that can run. If you load up on the running game, they're going to kill you with the throwing game."

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