A Wolfpacker's Perspective

I AM NOT A SENTIMENTAL GUY by nature. To me, "Beaches" is a slap-stick comedy and "Bambi" is a promotional video for the NRA, but this Saturday will be an emotional day at my house.

As every college football fan knows, this Saturday's game against Maryland will showcase Philip Rivers' final performance within the grateful confines of Carter-Finley stadium.

For four years- the entire Chuck Amato era- we have watched Philip play QB for the Wolfpack; Rivers will be starting his NCAA record 50th consecutive game against the Terps. That's just stupid how ironman that is. Philip has gone an entire presidential term without missing a start. My paperboy hasn't even been able to get my paper to me 50 consecutive days in a row. For four wonderful years it has been a foregone conclusion as to who would be under center when the Pack took the field. We have one more regular season game to say that.

But this Saturday also marks the final game for another Wolfpack legend, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery has been as clutch as any receiver in college football and deserves that kind of recognition. Jerricho has caught a pass in 37 consecutive games (and that streak will extend to 38 consecutive games somewhere around the 14:52 point in the first quarter this Saturday if we get the ball first). At the start of the season there was a lot of talk as to who would be the team's leading receiver and go-to-guy with all the talented newcomers, but once again, at the end of the season there is no question…it's Jerricho Cotchery.

The Rivers/Cotchery tandem will be forever etched in my mind with the fond likes of "Fire and Ice" and "Whittenberg and Lowe," etc. And as sorry as I am to see it coming to an end, I'm almost just as proud to be able to say, "back when I saw Rivers and Cotchery play at N.C. State…" They are what college football is all about. And their legend will grow bigger with every single ounce of hops I ingest in the upcoming years, too. By 2010 Rivers will have played QB with a blue ox by his side and Cotchery will have been faster than ten steam-engines. I still tell anyone who'll listen about the time Levar Fisher rode his horse, Widow-Maker, into Doak-Campbell and led the Wolfpack to a victory over Florida State.

I don't know Philip Rivers personally, but I feel like I do after cheering for him for four years. So on Saturday, around 7:00 EST, I will raise my O'Douls (I'm still on medi-freakin'-cation) and give a tearful salute to the greatest player in ACC history and his favorite target (and to the other Wolfpack seniors, as well).

NOW TO PUT SOME LAME ARGUMENTS TO BED. Philip Rivers doesn't deserve to be on the fringe of Heisman trophy discussions, he deserves to be the focal point. Arguments can be made for Oklahoma quarterback Jason White (he's the QB of the best team in the country) or for Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (he's the most talented athlete in the country) but to make a case for Ole Miss QB Eli Manning or Texas Tech QB B.J. Symons is ludicrous.

The facts speak for themselves: Philip Rivers is 2nd in the nation with a 169.8 rating, 2nd in the nation in passing yards (3740), 2nd in the nation in passing efficiency (72.3%). Rivers completes 72.3 percent of his passes. I can't even get 72.3 percent of a forkful of peas into my mouth. Philip has also thrown 29 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.

Jason White leads the nation with a 174.4 rating, but is 8th in passing yards and is 12th in completion percentage (65.1). He has 36 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.

John Lee Malvo has a stronger case than Eli Manning. Manning is the 18th rated passer (149.8), 14th in passing yards (2881) and has a 62.8 completion percentage. He has thrown 23 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Manning's numbers are good but pale in comparison to Rivers'. If you replace Manning's name on his jersey with Trumble or Johanson, he comes no closer to the Heisman trophy than a defensive tackle for Boise State.

And finally we have B.J. Symons. Symons has the 13th best passer rating with 155.0, but leads the nation with an astounding 5106 passing yards (due to Texas Tech's dominant running game and stifling defense, to be sure) but he only completes 64.9% of his passes. He's thrown a mind-blowing 47 touchdowns to go with a plethora of interceptions (16). He has also thrown 613 passes this season (double of most quarterbacks). Symons isn't a quarterback, he's a pitcher.

As you can see, the numbers don't lie. Rivers should not only be invited to New York as a Heisman finalist, but he should be given the award along with a packet of Sweet And Low and an apology from the media for not giving him more praise.

THE OTHER ARGUMENT THAT MUST BE PUT DOWN is whether or not TCU deserves a BCS bid if they go undefeated. Anyone who believes they do is either an idiot or a malcontent and either way should not be listened to. Here's TCU's schedule: Tulane, Navy, Vanderbilt, Arizona, Army, South Florida, UAB, Houston, Louisville (#25), Cincinnati, Southern Miss and SMU.

Well congratulations to TCU for beating those powerhouses. I'm surprised they don't have any vocational schools on their schedule (or is UAB a vocational school?). Vanderbilt and Arizona are the Dukes of the SEC and the Pac 10, disrespectfully. N.C. State caught a lot of crap for playing seven bowl teams last year, imagine if we played TCU's schedule and were undefeated at this point (which I would whole-heartedly expect to be, mind you). We would be laughed at. And rightfully so. And so should TCU. TCU deserves the Las Vegas Bowl or the Motor City Madman Bowl, or whatever Conference USA gets and should shut up about it.

If TCU can be rewarded for being undefeated against those jokers, than NCSU should drop out of the ACC, join the Sunbelt Conference and open some serious whoopass on the masses. Why play contenders when you can feast on pretenders?

Now Marshall and Northern Illinois are exceptions (kind of) to this. Marshall goes on the road each year to play teams like Miami, Tennessee, Kansas State, N.C. State, etc and NIU played Alabama and Maryland this year, so at least they're trying. They still have the Buffalos and the directional colleges (Northern, Southwest, Eastern, etc) on their schedule, but they partially make up for it with the tougher games.

But even this doesn't make it right to include these schools into the BCS mix. Granted, you want to win every game on your schedule but some teams are definitely harder than others. So if you only play one or two "tough" games a year, they become your Super Bowl and you play the game of your life. Whereas Maryland is NIU's shot at the national stage, NIU is Maryland's "gimme" game. Maryland has to worry about the Florida States of the world next week, whereas NIU has to prepare for the fierce Western Michigans in their future. It's not equal and that needs to be recognized. Strength of schedule is there for a reason and if Kansas State catches flack for their schedule (which includes Texas and Oklahoma, etc), imagine if they played Bowling Green's.

Before I go, I want to give one final "thank you" to Philip Rivers and the other Wolfpack seniors for all they've given to N.C. State and for making my Saturdays (and occasional Thursdays) something to look forward to. Good luck, guys. Now take it to Maryland and let's go bowling!

Stay safe and stay tuned…

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