Georgia Tech fends off Kentucky for TaxSlayer Bowl victory

Leave a comment

Georgia Tech (9-4) held off a late rally attempt by Kentucky (7-6) and pulled out a well-timed pass play to lead to a cushion-padding touchdown to win the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, 33-18. Dedrick Mills rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown for Georgia Tech and Justin Thomas passed for 105 yards and ran for 42 more yards and a touchdown in the win over the Wildcats.

Georgia Tech got things started early with the defense putting the first points on the scoreboard. P.J. Davis picked up a loose ball fumbled away by Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson on a third down play on the game’s third play of the game. Davis returned the recovered fumble for a touchdown, which was later followed by a Georgia Tech field goal on the first offensive series for the Yellow Jackets in the first quarter. After Kentucky put a dent on the scoreboard with a field goal early in the second quarter, Georgia Tech padded its lead with 10 more points before halftime. Quarterback Justin Thomas took off running for a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Georgia Tech continued to pad its decisive lead with a pair of second-half field goals, while Kentucky finally got a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Johnson completed a pass to Dorian Baker from 20 yards out, which needed a video review to confirm. The Wildcats needed 12 plays to cover 75 yards for the score, but Georgia Tech responded by putting together a time-consuming drive over 12 plays resulting in a field goal to create a 16-point advantage with 6:16 left to play.

The win by Georgia Tech helps improve the ACC 7-3 in the bowl season (Louisville lost in the Citrus Bowl at the time this game was played). The ACC will end the bowl season with a winning record against the SEC, even if Clemson should happen to lose to Alabama in the national championship game. Georgia Tech now has three bowl victories under head coach Paul Johnson and ends the season with its second-highest win total under Johnson (Johnson won 11 games twice at Georgia Tech).

Georgia Tech’s 2017 season will begin with another game against an SEC East opponent. The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to face Tennessee on Monday, September 4, 2017 in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as one half of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff, with Alabama and Florida State playing in the spotlight game of the opening weekend two days prior. For Georgia Tech, this will mark three straight games against SEC East opponents with a regular season finale against rival Georgia, this bowl game against Kentucky and the 2017 opener against Tennessee.

Kentucky will start the 2017 season on the road against Southern Miss on Saturday, September 2, 2017. Kentucky avoids the toughest of crossover opponents from the SEC West next season by getting Ole Miss at home and Mississippi State on the road. Kentucky will not face Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas or Texas A&M. Kentucky will also host rival Louisville in Lexington at the end of the 2017 season. The Wildcats will hope to back a second-straight postseason bowl trip for the first time since going to five straight bowl games from 2006 through 2010.

Georgia LB Monty Rice not expected to play vs. Georgia Tech

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Georgia sophomore linebacker Monty Rice is not expected to play this weekend as Georgia plays rival Georgia Tech this weekend, according to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. Rice injured his foot during the pre-game warmups over the weekend before Georgia played UMass, but Smart does not think the injury will keep Rice out for very long.

That, of course, is good news considering what is up next for Georgia after this weekend’s game against Georgia Tech. Georgia is set to meet Alabama in the SEC Championship Game next week in Atlanta, and having Rice back in time for that game would be beneficial to the Georgia defense if he is available to return. A win against Alabama would likely send Georgia back to the College Football Playoff. Rice has not officially been ruled out for this weekend, although Smart seems pessimistic about his chances of playing against the Yellow Jackets.

However, a report from UGASports.com says Rice was seen leaving the football building on crutches and wearing a boot on Monday. That may not sound too promising for Rice’s availability this week or next, but the extent of the injury has not been clarified. But until any update is provided on Rice’s availability beyond this week, it will be nothing more than speculation and a guessing game.

Rice is Georgia’s second-leading tackler this season with 59 tackles, including 25 solo tackles. Rice has also recorded a sack and forced a fumble this season.

Shoulder injury leaves status of Texas QB Sam Ehlinger up in the air

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
1 Comment

In a victory over Iowa State on Saturday night to put Texas in a good spot to clinch a berth in the Big 12 championship game, starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger was forced to leave the game with a shoulder injury. With one game left to play in the regular season against Kansas, it is unknown if Ehlinger will be ready to play this weekend.

Texas head coach Tom Herman said Ehlinger has aggravated his AC joint in his right shoulder, his throwing shoulder that was hurt earlier this season. Herman told reporters Ehlinger would not throw on Monday but the head coach of the Longhorns noted he was hopeful to see Ehlinger be able to do so again on Tuesday as practices resume in preparation for Kansas this week.

The good news appears to be no serious damage was discovered in an MRI Ehlinger underwent. Texas may be fortunate to have a game against Kansas on the schedule this week, as the Longhorns should still be a solid favorite to come out of this game with a win. A win would guarantee a spot for Texas in the Big 12 championship game, which would result in a rematch with either Oklahoma or West Virginia (the winner of this week’s Oklahoma-West Virginia game heads to the Big 12 championship game; Texas is in regardless of who wins that game as long as the Longhorns beat Kansas).

If Ehlinger is unable to play, Texas will continue to roll with Shane Buechele at quarterback. Ehlinger’s status will be monitored throughout the week before any official decision is made.

Virginia Tech will pay Marshall regardless if they play or not

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Sunday, Virginia Tech announced a tentative plan to play one final home game this season against Marshall in an attempt to keep Virginia Tech’s bowl streak alive. But if the game is not played, Marshall is still going to get paid.

According to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report, Virginia Tech has agreed to compensate Marshall whether they play a game or not. If the game is played, Virginia Tech will pay Marshall $300,000 for the late regular season matchup. If the game is not played, Virginia Tech will pay Marshall $100,000 for their troubles. That’s a win-win for Marshall.

As previously announced by Virginia Tech, the tentative game against Marshall will take place in the event Virginia Tech beats Virginia this week to give the Hokies a fifth win this season. The final game against Marshall would then be played on Dec. 1 to give the Hokies a chance to reach six wins and qualify for a bowl game for a 26th straight season. Because the game would not be needed in the event Virginia Tech loses to Virginia, the game against Marshall would be scrapped entirely.

In addition to the late plans to play a potential 12th game this season if needed, the Richmond Times-Dispatch also reports a future home-and-home series between the two schools has been agreed upon, although the details of a potential future home-and-home series have yet to be detailed.

Virginia Tech’s non-conference schedule is booked through 2030 though so it would be a while before that home-and-home deal sees the football field unless any adjustments to Virginia Tech’s schedule are made to accommodate an earlier meeting between the Hokies and Thundering Herd.

Alabama remains unanimous No. 1 in Super 16 Poll; UCF cracks top 10

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

After a somewhat quiet week of college football for the top teams in the Super 16 poll, there was minimal change to the top 10 this week. The Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation once again sees Alabama claiming the top spot with all 51 first-place votes from the collective voters this week.

Alabama is followed by the same teams in the same order they were last week with Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, and Oklahoma not moving this week. At No. 7, Washington State moved up one spot. West Virginia fell from the seventh spot down to No. 11 after a road loss at Oklahoma State last weekend. The Mountaineers dropping allowed No. 8 LSU and No. 9 UCF to move up two spots. No. 10 Ohio State dropped one spot after having to survive an overtime shootout at Maryland over the weekend.

No. 16 Washington returned to the Super 16 this week to round out the poll. The Huskies trail Texas, Florida, and Penn State, who all moved up this week. No. 15 Utah State fell one spot after escaping an upset bid at Colorado State on a Hail Mary that didn’t count because the receiver stepped out of bounds on the final play of the game.

Here is this week’s full Super 16 Poll, with first-place votes noted.

  1. Alabama (51)
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Michigan
  5. Georgia
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Washington State
  8. LSU
  9. UCF
  10. Ohio State
  11. West Virginia
  12. Texas
  13. Florida
  14. Penn State
  15. Utah State
  16. Washington

As a regular disclaimer, three contributors to College Football Talk are Super 16 voters; Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, and myself (Kevin McGuire).