Here's to You, 'Philip'

What else can be written about Philip Rivers that hasn't been already?

Everyone knows what he has or will have accomplished as NC State's quarterback when his college career finally ends. Here is just a very small sampling:

- An NCAA-record 50 straight starts
- Second all-time in NCAA passing yards (With over 12,700, he'll finish his career second behind Ty Detmer)
- 90 career touchdown passes (seventh in NCAA history)
- Two straight wins over Florida State (and a 2-2 record against the Noles)
- A 3-1 record vs. UNC
- And perhaps his most memorable moment, last season's 28-6 whipping of Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl.

Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden, a man who has seen his share of remarkable signal-callers in his time, stated that Rivers is a better quarterback than Dan Marino or Danny Wuerffel. NC State Coach Chuck Amato calls Rivers the best player ever to don the Red & White, and he's probably right. Rivers is perhaps the most beloved football player in NC State's history, surpassing the likes of Torry Holt and Roman Gabriel along the way. In fact, Rivers is probably more on par in NCSU athletics lore with basketball legend David Thompson - a player that even opposing fans will rave about having watched for years to come.

The love that Wolfpack fans feel for Rivers is due to a myriad of reasons, and not solely based on his on-the-field accomplishments. Fans love his unashamed deep Southern accent. They love that he's a family guy who married his high school sweetheart. They love that he's a family guy who puts his football "family" above himself and enjoys being just one of the guys. Fans feel that, despite that fact that he grew up in Alabama, Philip Rivers is one of them; he could just have easily "growed up" in Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, Clemmons, Flat Rock or anywhere else in North Carolina. To Pack fans, Rivers isn't Rivers - he's 'Philip.'

Despite having better numbers than basically ever other "leading" Heisman candidate out there, Rivers' chance at college football's top award probably went out the window (unfairly) after the Pack's overtime loss at Ohio State on September 13. But that in no way diminishes what Rivers has meant to NC State football and NC State University. Pack fans know how great he has been. If he's not the best player in ACC history, he's got to be among the top three or four - and that's without winning an ACC title, a Heisman Trophy and by earning just one league Player of the Year award (which is sure to be his this time around).

On Saturday, Rivers and the rest of the State seniors will make one last appearance at Carter-Finley Stadium. If the world were fair, Rivers would pass for 400 yards and a handful of touchdowns, while running for another as the Pack rolls to victory. But, as we have seen throughout the Rivers Era, sometimes life isn't fair; instead of a final game against a patsy, Rivers will face a determined and talented Maryland Terrapins team in his last regular-season college football game. A loss would not be unheard of, though a win plus one final outstanding performance could land "Philip" in New York for the Heisman presentation. He at least deserves the trip.

While NC State hasn't exactly produced a multitude of Heisman-caliber players in the past, you'd be hard-pressed to find a group of fans that wants one of their own to win the award more than State fans do this year. And that's not because they want Philip Rivers to have a jinxed and cursed NFL career, but because they genuinely want something great to happen to a genuinely great person and player. To Pack fans, no one is more deserving of the sport's top honor.

It seems that very few know exactly what the criteria is for Heisman voting. Regardless, if it's for the best individual player in college football or the player who is most important to his team, Philip's impact should not be overlooked. But it will be, and when it's all said and done, No. 17 will just say "shucks," smile and then call to congratulate the winner. Then he'll probably get back to playing with his daughter.

'Now' ACC Standings

1. Florida State: ACC = 'Always Chopped Conference'.
2. NC State: Once again, the Wolfpack comes up just short - literally - to a national power.
3. Maryland: Terps have their eyes on Jacksonville - but must first go through Raleigh.
4. Clemson: Tigers don't look like the same team that was thumped by Wake Forest just a couple of weeks ago.
5 (tie). Georgia Tech and Virginia: Though schizoid, Tech has been a nice surprise this season, while UVa must be the most disappointing team in the ACC.
7. Wake Forest: Jim Grobe had Coach of the Year honors locked up just a few weeks ago. But then again, Wake seemingly had a bowl bid locked up too.
8 (tie). Duke and North Carolina: Saturday, Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill: for all the marbles.

'Later' ACC Standings

1. Florida State
2. Miami
3 (tie). NC State and Virginia Tech
5. Maryland
6. Clemson
7 (tie). Boston College, Georgia Tech and Virginia
10. Wake Forest
11 (tie). Duke and North Carolina

This Week's Predictions:

Duke at North Carolina:
Duke has two major things going for it which could result in a win over the hated Tar Heels: Motivation (the players want Interim Coach Ted Roof to get the full-time gig) and Revenge (Duke hasn't defeated UNC in a dozen years). More importantly, the Devils may actually have the better team. But then again, that's like saying Moe was the more annoying Stooge. Duke 17, North Carolina 10

Georgia Tech at Virginia:
Georgia Tech should have more motivation to win, but Charlottesville is a difficult place to get a road 'W.' Virginia 27, Georgia Tech 21

Clemson at South Carolina:
On one side, you have perhaps the best college football fans in the nation. Gamecocks fans repeatedly fill Williams-Bryce Stadium - even though the Fightin' Chickens are rarely that good. On the other side ... well, let's just say that many Clemson boosters may get their wish, and Tommy Bowden may be gone after this season - despite a win over Florida State and an upper-echelon finish in the ACC and a fifth straight bowl trip. Clemson 38, South Carolina 27

Maryland at NC State:
This one was many folks' preseason ACC Game of the Year. And it may be, but it will be tough to top Florida State's win over NC State last Saturday. Philip Rivers has never beaten Maryland, and Ralph Friedgen (as UM's coach) has never lost to NC State. Nothing lasts forever. NC State 44, Maryland 38

Also ... Miami 28, Rutgers 14
Virginia Tech 27, Boston College 10

Prognostication Record This Year (as far as picking the correct winner goes): 50-18

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