Monday, December 29, 2008

Chick-Fil-A Bowl Preview

LSU (7-5) vs (#14, #14)Georgia Tech (9-3)
Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Atlanta, GA
December 31, 6:30 PM
All Time Series: Georgia Tech 14-6
All Time Bowl Records: Boston College 22-14, Vanderbilt 20-18-1
Monday’s Line: Georgia Tech -4

Total Offense, Scoring Offense (National Rank):
Georgia Tech: 377.2 ypg (46th), 26.2 ppg (56th)
LSU: 371.8 ypg (54th), 30.3 ppg (30.3)

Total Defense, Scoring Defense (National Rank):
Georgia Tech: 312.7 ypg (22nd), 18.8 ppg (22nd)
LSU: 326.5 ypg (33rd), 24.9 ppg (64th)

This is not exactly what LSU fans had in mind before the season began, wrapping up a disappointing season before the change of the year. On the other side of the field, not many predicted that Georgia Tech would rebound from its recent mediocrity to win 9 games running Paul Johnson’s triple option.

Despite stellar talent on both sides of the ball, offensive and defensive inconsistencies have plagued the Tigers all season. Their remarkable +20 turnover margin last season fell to -4 this year as well. All-SEC RB Charles Scott is a load on offense, but with no reliable passing game, his numbers have tailed off some in the second half of the season.

While LSU has struggled all season against the pass, they’ve stopped the run consistently all season. The Tigers currently rank 16th in the country, giving up just 105.67 rush ypg. GTU won’t be intimidated, as they just ran for 409 yards against a Georgia team that was giving up just over 100 ypg on the ground in the season finale. The Yellow Jackets feature the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in Jonathan Dwyer, who led the ACC with 110.7 ypg rushing and was 2nd with 13 TDs. He’s rushed for 100+ yds 9x this season, including 4 straight.

As it stands, these teams are somewhat similar in playing styles. Both feature a tough run defense, tough RBs, and QBS who’d just as soon hand off. LSU ranks 67th in the country with 204.5 passing ypg, while GTU comes in at #117 with a whopping 95 ypg. I expect that GTU will pass a bit more than normal this game to take advantage of LSU’s 81st ranked secondary.

This is still the defending national champion and there is still a lot of talent on the field. Unfortunately for LSU fans, they’re not playing well together as a unit. While I don’t think that the Jackets will run wild like they did against UGA, they’ll run enough to take advantage of LSU’s porous pass defense. The difference in this game will be the Yellow Jacket defense. With a one-dimensional offense, LSU will have trouble moving the ball against the Ramblin’ Wreck. This should be one of the best non-BCS games of the Bowl Season, but unfortunately, another where the SEC comes out the loser.

Georgia Tech 27, LSU 21


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