Saturday, October 27, 2007
Matty Ice comes through in the clutch
I just want to clarify something here.
This win had less to do with Matty Ice getting it together in the fourth quarter and more to do with the excellent Eagles defense and special teams. They won't be properly recognized, but the heroes of this game was the stingy Eagles defense that held the Hokies to only 10 points all game and kept the game within striking distance while Matt Ryan was posting 3 and out after 3 and out. Keeping the Hokies offense under wraps all night in their home stadium with the offense floundering was no small task and they were up to the challenge.
Eagles punter Johnny Ayers might have been the real MVP behind center as he buried the Hokies deep in their own territory multiple times throughout the course of the game. Even Sid Vicious came through with an onsides kick that was recovered by the Eagles and gave Matt Ryan ample time to march down the field.
That said, I was impressed by Matt Ryan's ability to get temporary amnesia, forget the terrible game he had played up until the fourth quarter and came up big when it counted. Despite the fact that this was easily his worst game of the year, experts seem to think that his clutch performance in the 4th Quarter will highlight his resiliency and supplement his Heisman credentials.
This was a huge game for the Eagles. The biggest criticism of the Eagles this year had been that they simply hadn't played against any good teams. With a win over a top 10 team on the road it's going to be harder for the experts to make this argument. The Eagles are in a strong position to go to the ACC Championship and possibly national title game if they can avoid the upset in the 4 trap games that round out their schedule.
The Atlantic Division of the ACC is a bit thin. Wake Forest is second in the division with one loss and will need the Eagles to lose two of their remaining four games as the Eagles would win a tie-breaker scenario as a result of their win in the opening week of the season. Florida State and NC State have both been eliminated for all intents and purposes with 3 conference losses each. Clemson and Maryland both have two losses in the conference, but one will knock the other from being a realistic contender as they play this week. After this weekend's games there should be only two teams within striking distance of the Eagles.
It might be a bit optimistic to talk about the national title potential with some strong opponents still on the schedule, but it's looking to be a distinct possibility.
The Ohio Buckeyes have the top spot for now, but they've also been getting fat off of cupcakes in the schedule and they're approaching the meat of they're schedule. They'll need to beat Penn State in Happy Valley, A Wisconsin team that had been ranked highly at one point in the season, An Illinois team that upset Penn State and Wisconsin in back to back weeks and finish off the season in Ann Arbor, Michigan where the Wolverines seem to have bounced back nicely from their struggles early in the season and is now ranked at #20.
LSU is back near the top of the rankings after dropping from a loss to Kentucky two weeks ago, but the critics love this team with a passion and a last second victory over #17 Auburn was reason enough to bump them back up to number 3. The Tigers have their last real challenge of the year against #24 Alabama in Tuscaloosa and will wrap up the year with what should be 3 easy games. If LSU manages to win all their remaining games I could easily see LSU leapfrogging the Eagles in the rankings....at which point I'm going to be very busy writing alot of angry letters.