I figured it might be best to get my thoughts on Saturday’s game posted before my brain and body shut down from over-indulging on turkey and everything else that accompanies it.
- The obvious. Both teams go into this game wanting to do the exact same thing – establish the running game and shut down the other guy’s ability to run the ball. The school that best succeeds at this should win, of course, but the other thing to consider is what happens if both defenses are successful at stopping the run. In the event that occurs, I like Georgia’s chances with Stafford, Bailey and Massaquoi a whole lot better than Tech’s with Taylor Bennett and the “Calvin’s gone” Tech receiving corps.
- The not-so-obvious. Georgia Tech is -2 in turnover margin this season, which is fairly innocuous on its face. Things are a little more interesting when you look at the month by month splits, though. The Jackets are a whopping -9 in TO margin in November. They’ve fumbled six times and thrown six INTs in their last three games. If the Dawgs are +3 in TOs on Saturday, this one won’t be close.
- He’ll be missed. Yes, I know that Tech has the 100th ranked passing offense in the country right now. But there’s no way Taylor Bennett can possibly match Dog’s final, craptastic stat line, is there?
- Trend of the game. You know I likes me some trend. Well, here’s one to consider: in the last nine games, the road team is 7-1-1 against the spread.
- Intangibles. There is a distinct possibility that Georgia could find itself in the middle of the ball game having no goals left to play for. If Arizona State wins tonight, that’s pretty much the end of the “if these nine things go perfectly right” longshot chance at the MNC (sorry folks, ASU ain’t gonna lose to Arizona). And if Kentucky rights itself and beats Tennessee, the Dawgs would have earned a berth in the SECCG regardless of the outcome of the Tech game. If those things were to occur, how would that affect Georgia’s focus and intensity?
- Resume ranking. I’ve already posted about Tech fans’ misplaced reliance on the seasonal stats, but let’s take a naked look at the results of each team’s last four games. Georgia is 4-0 against the likes of #12 Florida, likely SBC champ Troy, #25 Auburn and once top-10 ranked Kentucky. Georgia Tech is 3-1 against Army, #8 Virginia Tech (the Hokies blew the Jackets out 27-3), Duke and North Carolina. Which impresses you more?
Look, it’s a rivalry game and Georgia Tech has a coach that may very well be fighting to keep his job. So there’s certainly some validity to the old “throw the records” out argument here. But Georgia is the deeper team and is playing with much more confidence right now than its opponent. If Tech holds serve on turnovers, I think it will take the Dawgs well in to the second half to take control of the game, but take control they will. I like them to win by a TD or so in that case, say 20-13.
But keep an eye on that turnover trend for Tech. If they continue to give the ball away as they’ve done of late, the Jackets could make this game an ugly one for themselves.