Bulldogs (9-2, 7-1 SEC) vs Yellow Jackets (8-3, 5-3 ACC)
This Peachtree State rivalry is yet another major end-of-season showdown this week. “Pure, Old-Fashioned Hate” sums up the relationship between these two teams quite well.
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Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta GA
Saturday, Nov. 26, 3:30 pm EST
NCAA Odds from Sportsbook.com:
MoneyLine: Georgia -230, Ga. Tech +190
Spread: Georgia -6, Ga. Tech +6
You can bet the Jackets will do anything in their power to derail the hated ’Dawgs, but Georgia is playing some outstanding football of late. Last week’s game against Kentucky was a little close for comfort (a 19-10 victory), but Georgia still have won nine straight and are the best team in the SEC East division.
Tech has also had a strong season, fuelled by its quirky triple-option offensive attack. Three conference losses have hurt the Jackets’ chances – they sit in third in the ACC Coastal division – but Paul Johnson’s team still finds its rightful place among the leading rushing schools (2nd in the FBS, with over 323 yards per game). The Jackets also had a close call last week versus Duke, squeaking out a 38-31 win. It should help that big-play WR Stephen Hill – the man that gets the ball when Tech isn’t grinding it out on the turf – is listed as “Probable” after missing the second half of the Duke game with a back injury.
The Jackets defense should have a tough time containing solid Georgia QB Aaron Murray. The underclassman has proven himself as one of the better pivots in the SEC this season; he has a couple first-rate targets to help him in the persons of freshman WR Malcolm Mitchell and TE Orson Charles. The Bulldogs needed to ride out the turbulence of losing a bunch of their key guys to injuries and suspensions earlier in the year, and they did so. Mitchell was out for a time, as was stud freshman RB Isaiah Crowell (and, in fact, almost the entire RB three-deep on the depth chart). Still, Georgia has totally rebounded after a shoddy 0-2 start to the regular season.
The Bulldogs have the players in the secondary to bottle up Hill, should he play, but the key to Georgia winning on the road will be how effectively (if at all) it can bottle up Tech’s tried and true rushing attack. You are never going to completely stop a triple-option offense, but if you can limit the damage and bend without breaking, that is the key. The Bulldogs certainly have the defensive athletes to buck up with, as their 11th-ranked defense proves.
Every year, the Jackets and their fans put great stock in trying to un-seat the “superior” SEC rival located in Athens. The lower-profile team always brings everything they have to this type of rivalry game. Expect the Yellow Jackets to have a full head of steam behind them, though it might not be enough to stop a Georgia team that can hurt you a number of ways, be it through the air, on the ground or forcing an opponent to turn the ball over.
If Georgia wins this game, it should be the last hurdle between them and a date in the SEC Championship in the Georgia Dome. Georgia Tech has had a couple game versus the Virginia schools (Virginia and Virginia Tech, both narrow losses) that it would like another chance at, but them’s the breaks. The current conference and divisional landscapes being what they are, the Yellow Jackets would like nothing better than to play the role of spoiler to redeemed head coach Mark Richt and his ’Dawgs.
Georgia needs to stay focused to pull out what should be a daunting game, and then it can set its sights on a mauling SEC West opponent in the coming weeks.
Score Prediction: Georgia 35, Georgia Tech 28
Over/Under Prediction: 63
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