Back Dayes, Webb Ready for Shreveport Showcase

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Dayes, Webb Ready for Shreveport Showcase

By BJ Bennett
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Both Matthew Dayes and Ralph Webb were catalysts in leading their teams to the postseason.

Two of college football's best running backs will square off in the Independence Bowl on the day after Christmas, with the North Carolina State-Vanderbilt pairing serving as a spotlight for Matt Dayes and Ralph Webb, respectively. The two veterans are fresh off a combined 2,291 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns this fall. Both backs were catalysts in leading their teams to the postseason.

Topping the 100-yard mark eight times, Dayes was at his best against many of the top opponents on his schedule. He reached the aforementioned milestone against the likes of Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina, among others. Dayes very nearly paced the Wolfpack to an upset win in Death Valley. Of ACC running backs, only Dalvin Cook has more than Dayes' 1,138 rushing yards.

Webb leads the SEC East with 1,172 yards on the ground and ranks second with 12 scores. He has recorded eight outings of at least 95 rushing yards in 2016, including 211 yards in a win over Middle Tennessee. For his career, the junior is already over 3,200 yards and is the program's all-time leading rusher. Most recently, Webb was part of a dynamic Commodore attack that topped 600 yards in a win over Tennessee.  

With similar production this season, Dayes and Webb have had an equally-important influence on their team's overall successes. Dayes ran for six touchdowns over North Carolina State's final three games, which featured two wins; Webb ran for six scores in Vanderbilt's last three meetings, the final pair coming as victories. Late in the year, they helped set the tone in pursuit of postseason bids. 

The Independence Bowl will stand as a nice showcase for two often-underappreciated talents, players who have proven to be two of the best at their position in all of college football.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports