Joe Rubin has the look of a man who is ready to go down fighting. A man who is ready, at whatever cost, to stand his ground. A man who is ready to prove himself and his worth to the world.
Shaun Bodiford’s eyes gleam the same exact way. Bodiford is resilient, focused, determined, intent. And he’s ready.
“This is it for us,” said Bodiford. “As a team, we’ve got to come out swinging. And it’s up to us, as seniors, to get everybody ready. We know how important these last two games are, what they mean to us and our chance to make it into the playoffs. We can’t let ourselves down.”
Strong words. Words echoed perfectly by Rubin.
“You know, my yards and my numbers don’t mean anything. I’m more concerned with these last two games and this season as a whole. We’ve still got a shot at this thing and we know it. Last week’s lost was tough but we can’t let it get to us. We’ve just got to move on, win these next two and then see what happens,” Rubin said.
With the year winding down and only two games remaining on their schedule, the Vikings post-season chances are a little better than slim. PSU must win its next two and hope that the right teams win and that the right teams lose for it to continue playing past Nov. 12. And both and Rubin and Bodiford know: it’s up to them and it’s not going to be easy.
“These are good teams,” Rubin said. “These are teams that are underrated and can on any weekend make you look bad. So we’re just really focused right now, as seniors, on going out on top. I want this to be my legacy here. We all want it. We’ve all worked hard to get to this point and we’re not ready to see it end.”
This is what it all comes down to. The practices, the injuries, the highs and the lows. Even more: youth football into middle school football into high school into college. And then? This is what Rubin and Bodiford are perfectly aware of. They know that the entire season and their personal futures are staring them in the face. And they know that they’ve got to use the “whatever it takes” theme that has followed PSU around like a dog this year as an ally, as a friend. And then they’ve got to turn it on its head and fight.
“In the locker room and on the field, all of the big guys who are leaving – me, Sawyer, Rubin, A.K. – we’ve just been telling everybody that this is it. These last two games are gonna show who we are and what we’re capable of. We’re ready,” Bodiford said.
In the end, for Rubin and Bodiford, no matter what happens it’ll have been a great run. Rubin ranks second in all of college football right now with 1,374 rushing yards. He has been a human steamroller. The 150-yard game has been cake to him and he has often had to carry the entire PSU offensive load on his back. Meanwhile, Bodiford has fully established himself as a threat both at wide receiver and as a kick returner. He has consistently made catches that seemed impossible and his 451 yards on 42 receptions lead the Vikings in both categories.
But, like Rubin said, the numbers, in the end, don’t mean anything. The numbers remain on paper, while the real game is played on the field. And it’s on the field that Rubin and Bodiford want to dictate what happens. Both feel that their seasons will be incomplete without a playoff run and both feel that they still have a lot to prove, to themselves and to their teammates.
“The thing for us, as seniors, is to just to make sure that everyone’s ready. Coach Walsh has been reminding us all week that last week was last week. It’s in the past,” Rubin said.
“We can still make this whole thing end like we want it to if we can just come out and show everybody what we’ve got.”
They’ll have their chance beginning this Saturday. PSU faces the Idaho State Bengals, a 4-4 team that has been hard to predict as to how they will perform each weekend. Led by quarterback Matt Hagler’s 1395 passing yards, the Bengals have at times looked like one of the Big Sky’s best teams and at times one of the worst. The two-tiered running back system of Josh Barnett and Ken Cornist has combined for 1272 yards already this season though, so the Bengals definitely have the manpower to do the job.
Will the Vikings be ready? Let’s hope. One thing is for sure though: Rubin and Bodiford are going to do whatever it takes to get the Vikings these next two wins. They’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure that the Vikings see the post-season firsthand, up close.