Matt Ryan, get ready for some Heisman hype.
The Boston College quarterback was the clear winner in a showdown with another of the country's top players, throwing for a career-best 435 yards to lead the 21st-ranked Eagles to a 24-10 victory over No. 15 Georgia Tech on Saturday night.
Ryan's previous best: a 408-yard effort two weeks ago against defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest. He's now just shy of 1,000 yards for the season, in only three games.
"We came in expecting to move the ball pretty well," Ryan said. "We had confidence."
With good reason. Ryan was 30-of-44 in the third 400-yard passing game of his career, which included a 39-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Robinson. The Yellow Jackets were clearly impressed.
"We haven't seen a quarterback like that since Brady Quinn," Georgia Tech safety Pat Clark said. "He's real confident. He's real comfortable in the pocket. He made plays when he had to. That's what good quarterbacks do."
L.V. Whitworth had a pair of TD runs for Boston College (3-0), which has beaten three straight ACC opponents to take early control of the league race. The Eagles held up well against Georgia Tech's blitzing defense, giving Ryan plenty of time to throw.
The Yellow Jackets (2-1, 0-1 ACC) reached the league championship game a year ago, but they'll have to dig out of an early hole if they want to get back to Jacksonville. They were totally outclassed by Boston College, which piled up 527 yards and allowed just 267.
"Matt's maturity level is as good as any quarterback I've been around," said Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College's first-year coach. "The game slows down for him. He doesn't get rattled about anything he does. I'm sure glad I've got him."
The Eagles' defense isn't too shabby, either.
Coming into the game ranked fourth nationally against the run, Boston College backed up its lofty standing. Tashard Choice managed just 31 yards on 15 carries, ending his streak of nine straight 100-yard games.
Choice had his best run late in the third quarter, breaking around left end for 12 yards. Fittingly, the play was negated by a holding penalty, and Choice hobbled to the sideline with a hamstring injury. He did not return.
"They played a heck of a game. Hats off to 'em," said Choice, who hopes to return for next weekend's game at Virginia. "You go into the game thinking everybody (on the team) can run the football. But we weren't effective. We couldn't get first downs. We couldn't get it moving."
Georgia Tech, which averaged 51 points and 342 yards rushing in routs of Notre Dame and Samford, managed just 63 yards on the ground.
"That's a good B.C. team," Choice said.
Robinson had five catches for 128 yards, while Kevin Challenger caught seven for 88.
Ryan set the tone on Boston College's first possession, after Durant Brooks backed up the Eagles to their own 5 with a pooch punt.
On third-and-2 from the 13, Ryan fooled the Yellow Jackets with play action and flipped a pass to tight end Jon Loyte, who slipped behind the secondary for a 40-yard gain.
Ryan wasn't done. He connected with Challenger on passes of 16 and 25 yards before Whitworth rumbled over from the 1, capping an 11-play, 95-yard drive that took the raucous crowd right out of the game.
"That was a solid first series we had," Ryan said. "We threw the ball well and ran it well."
The Eagles were threatening again when Ryan made his only real miscue. After driving his team from its own 20 to a first down at the Georgia Tech 6, he was hit from behind by Darrell Robertson and fumbled. Philip Wheeler recovered for the Yellow Jackets.
However, Ryan got it back early in the second quarter, carving up Georgia Tech again.
First, he threw a deep pass that drew an interference penalty on Clark. Then, Rich Gunnell slipped between zone coverage for a 17-yard completion. Finally, Ryan tossed a perfectly thrown ball toward the corner of the end zone, which Robinson caught over the shoulder with time to get both feet down for the TD.
At halftime, Boston College led 14-0 and it could have been much worse. The Eagles had a staggering lead in total yards: 318-86.
After Whitworth's second TD, a 16-yard run, Georgia Tech finally responded. Freshman Jonathan Dwyer scored from the 2 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. The Yellow Jackets thought they had recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but the replay clearly showed A.J. Brooks was down when he lost the ball. That turned out to be Georgia Tech's final gasp.
The home crowd grew increasingly frustrated, drawing several warnings in the second half for throwing cups and other debris on the field.
"I don't know if it's a statement game or not," Jagodzinski said. "But I told the kids that to come on the road, at night, and play a top-ranked football team, they played hard. ... This is a special group."
Especially the guy at quarterback.