Showing True Potential

Nation's leading rusher Ryan Mathews

Through the first four games of the season, Fresno State fans weren't sure what to make of this team…

The Bulldogs were coming off three straight losses against the Big Ten's Wisconsin, conference rival Boise State and the Big East's Cincinnati. They weren't games that this team was getting blown out, they were games that the Bulldogs had within their grasp.

Though fingers could be pointed and the play calling could be questioned, the Bulldogs instead returned home to get ready for their stretch of seven straight conference games. These games would define the 2009 Fresno State Bulldogs.

This team knew that their season wasn't over, they knew they still had a chance if they won these next seven games that they had an outside chance of a share of the WAC title.

But it would take something they couldn't control which was Boise State losing at least one conference game. However, they could control their own fate by playing Bulldog football and taking care of business on the field.

That business started with a trip to the islands to take on another conference rival, Hawaii. A game that had a lot of bad blood in years past and a game that featured one team getting blown out since 2002, save last year's six turnover debacle at Bulldog Stadium.

This season's matchup had a much different feel after the injury to Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander. The always-brutal rivalry took on a lackluster new feel. That feel carried into the game as Fresno State stepped on the accelerator and never let up as they blew out the Warriors 42-17 behind running back Ryan Mathews' 149 yards rushing and one touchdown.

Ryan Mathews has been unstoppable this year for the Bulldogs, averaging a nation-best 162.33 yards per game.

The team was feeling good after the win, but someone that was feeling even better was Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn. It was the first time in five games that he hadn't thrown a single interception.

Was Colburn finally getting his feet under him and becoming the leader this team needed?

Next up was another suedo rivalry game as they welcomed in San Jose State during homecoming weekend.

This was another game that Fresno State knew they were the better team, the more experienced team. Though San Jose State did have an early 14-7 lead on the Bulldogs, Fresno State finally had seen enough and were tired of letting the Spartans hang around.

The Bulldogs would finish the game outscoring San Jose State 34-7 en route to a 41-21 win. Mathews would get his second game of 200 or more rushing yards this season, finishing with 233 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. That score marked the fifth touchdown run of more than 55-yards from scrimmage for Mathews.

Now, after six games and two straight conference wins, it looks like this Bulldog team is finally starting to show the kind of potential a lot of us talked about before this season ever began. The Bulldogs have the talent to dominate anyone they come in contact with, but a few mistakes in those three straight losses have kept them from reaping the benefits of what could have been a possible Top 15 ranking or higher.

Instead, after their victory over San Jose State, the Bulldogs are currently 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play going into this weekend's game on the road against New Mexico State (3-4, 1-2).

If you look at what remains of Fresno State's schedule, it's not far fetched that the Bulldogs could go unbeaten and finish the season with a 9-3 record. Take care of business on the field, win the games they need to win, and let the rest take care of itself. They're on the right track.

Ride the nation's leading rusher in running back Ryan Mathews, let that set up Ryan Colburn and the passing game and let defensive end Chris Carter be the beast that he's been so far for the Bulldog defense.

Do all of that and all the Bulldogs will be waiting on is their bowl destination.

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