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December 19, 2006
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Northern Illinois tailback Garrett Wolfe began his sensational senior season by gaining 285 all-purpose yards against top-ranked Ohio State.
The NCAA rushing leader will end the year with an almost equally difficult assignment.
Wolfe can finish the season with 2,000 rushing yards if he gains at least 100 yards Tuesday in the Poinsettia Bowl against No. 25 TCU at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium (8 p.m., ESPN2).
Reaching the century mark against the nation's fourth-ranked run defense would represent one of the best overall performances of Wolfe's brilliant career.
TCU (10-2) has gone 19 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher since New Mexico's DonTrell Moore gained 129 yards against the Horned Frogs on Oct. 1, 2005.
Boston College, Florida and Utah are the nation's only other Division I-A teams that haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher this year.
"They have a very talented defense," Wolfe said. "I'm sure everyone across the country knows that. As long as we win the football game, then I've probably done my job."
Wolfe will have to do his job for Northern Illinois to have any chance of pulling off the upset. A knee injury has sidelined starting quarterback Phil Horvath and should put even more pressure on Wolfe to carry Northern Illinois' offense.
Then again, Wolfe already has proved he's capable of filling that role.
The senior standout has joined Georgia's Herschel Walker, Pittsburgh's Tony Dorsett and Miami (Ohio)'s Travis Prentice as the only Division I-A players in history to rush for at least 1,500 yards in three consecutive seasons.
He rushed for 171 yards against Ohio State this season. He gained 148 yards on just 17 carries against Michigan last year.
The 5-foot-7 dynamo now will try to end his outstanding college career with one more notable performance against a highly regarded opponent.
"We haven't played anyone that has a tailback like they do," TCU coach Gary Patterson said.