WHO: 7-5 Ole Miss (SEC) vs. 7-5 Georgia Tech (ACC)
WHAT: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (15th Year)
WHERE: LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee
WHEN: Dec. 30 at 3:15 p.m. ET
WHY: One of the up-and-coming teams in the SEC gets a chance to end their season of progress on a high note. Ole Miss has thrived on some youthful energy this season to follow-up a stellar recruiting season and now has a chance to win the sixth straight bowl game for the program, although that is over a span of 12 years if they pull off a win against Georgia Tech.
Ole Miss will be looking to shrug aside a two-game losing streak to end the regular season, including a heartbreaker in the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State, when quarterback Bo Wallace had a sure-touchdown simply fall out of his hand on the way to the end zone. Wallace also threw three interceptions in that game, but that should not overshadow what has been a fine season for Wallace. This season Wallace passed for 3,090 yards and 17 touchdowns. Having targets like Donte Moncrief and Laquon Treadwell certainly helps.
On defense Ole Miss will be given the task of finding a way to avoid allowing Georgia Tech’s triple-option to run wild. This is easier said than done for most, but the Rebels have some players who can make some big plays. In addition to Class of 2013 stud Robert Nkemdiche, linebacker Mike Marry has a knack for knocking footballs loose and defensive back Cody Prewitt is one of the best in the SEC and intercepting passes. Of course, Georgia Tech will not be likely to take to the air too often. Paul Johnson’s coaching style will see running back David Sims lead the ground game and quarterback Vad Lee always willing to take off and run. Georgia Tech’s fourth-ranked rushing offense should have a solid day against the nation’s 55th ranked defense, but the Rebels may not wear down as easily as some of the Georgia Tech’s opponents this season.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 32, Georgia Tech 23
Is Miami back?
The early returns are promising.
The Hurricanes are 5-0 for the first time since 2004 thanks to the exploits of Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson, who helped lead No. 14 Miami to a 45-30 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday. It was the Hurricanes’ fifth-straight win over the Yellowjackets.
But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
The ‘Canes had a horrible opening quarter, falling behind Tech, 17-7, before waking up. Morris threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns on 17 of 22 passing and overcame two interceptions, while Johnson rushed for 184 yards on 22 carries.
Miami stormed back to take a 24-17 lead after Allen Hurns caught a 69-yard third quarter touchdown pass from Morris and it looked like the ‘Canes were in control. But Georgia Tech got new life when Phillip Dorsett fumbled a punt on his own 42-yard line and the Yellowjackets recovered. After a short drive, David Sims punched it in on a six-yard touchdown run and Tech was back in business.
Except they missed the extra point. Still, a one-point deficit seemed to point to a dramatic finish between the two teams.
Nope. Miami then exploded for 21 points in the final seven minutes to put the game away.
That’s what good teams do — they rise to the challenge when up against it.
Is Miami what it once was? Not even close. But after today, it’s pretty clear that the ‘Canes are no longer what they had recently become.
The Virginia Tech defense was locked in Thursday night in Atlanta, leading the way to a 17-10 victory against Georgia Tech. Logan Thomas completed 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown and he ran for one more to give the offense enough points for a win in a tough, defensive match-up. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech combined for 549 yards of offense with a fairly even split.
Sitting on their own 33-yard line, down seven with more than half a quarter to play, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson decided to take a chance and failed miserably. Virginia Tech defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins stuffed Georgia Tech running back David Sims two yards shy of the first down, forcing a turnover on downs and setting up the Hokies for a potentially lethal strike. Amazingly, Virginia Tech failed to take advantage when kicker Cody Journell‘s field goal attempt from sailed wide left from 25 yards out. Georgia Tech survived, with the score holding at 17-10.
Still with plenty of time, Georgia Tech attempted to pass their way to a first down but three straight incomplete passes from Vad Lee forced Georgia Tech to punt it away. The defense forced the Hokies to punt but Virginia Tech pinned the home team back on their five-yard line with about three and a half minutes to play.
This game was expected to be a low-scoring game lacking offensive highlights, and it delivered. This game was all about the defenses, and specifically the defense of Virginia Tech. This is the same defense who held Alabama to the second lowest offensive total since Nick Saban took over as head coach, and this defense has continued to dominate the opposition and give the offense a chance to win. Virginia Tech has now held East Carolina to ten points on the road, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato to just 228 passing yards and now has a hard-fought road win at Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech’s success this season will be determined by the play of the defense, because the offense still lacks any sense of a killer instinct.
Virginia Tech now gets three straight home games in ACC Coastal play with North Carolina, Pitt and Duke coming up. This looks like a terrific opportunity to get a firm grip of the division before a game with Miami late in the year. If they play defense the way they did Thursday night, that looks like a favorable.
We cannot rule out Georgia Tech from the conversation just yet, but they must be able to play a much cleaner game moving forward with a more challenging schedule than Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech’s next two games will be played at Miami and at BYU. The Yellow Jackets also have a road game at Clemson and a home game against Georgia before the end of the regular season. These are games Georgia Tech must avoid another nine-penalty performance.
Georgia Tech looked to be no match for North Carolina early on as rain fell on Bobby Dodd Stadium, but Georgia Tech scored 21 unanswered points and shut out the visiting Tar Heels in the second half to pick up a key ACC Coastal Division victory, 28-20.
The momentum in the game flipped late in the first half as Georgia Tech scored a touchdown to cut North Carolina’s lead to 20-14 before going to the break. In the second half it was Georgia Tech’s defense that took command by suffocating North Carolina’s offense and forcing UNC quarterback Bryn Renner to let go of the football. Renner also got little support from his receivers at times, who dropped a number of passes all afternoon. There just were not enough plays out of North Carolina’s offense to mount a comeback. The Tar Heels were forced to punt three times and the lone promising drive in the second half traveled 54 yards before ending with an interception.
Typical of Georgia Tech, the offense stuck to the running game to wear down North Carolina’s defense in the second half. The patient running of the Yellow Jackets never yielded in big plays but moved the ball consistently and led to a lopsided time of possession battle as well. David Sims ended the day with 99 yards and two touchdowns and Robert Godhigh rushed for 100 yards as well. Quarterback Vad Lee also was a part of the running game with 55 yards and a touchdown.
The ACC’s Coastal Division will likely be a three-team race between Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami. Virginia Tech has looked a little behind the curve early on (the Hokies were struggling with Marshall at home), so any win a team can pick up in head-to-head competition could prove to be valuable in the standings. Georgia Tech is now 2-0 in the ACC after defeating Duke last week and the Tar Heels on Saturday. Net week Georgia Tech can really put themselves in a good position if they can defeat Virginia Tech at home.
It’s a soggy afternoon down in Atlanta for ACC football between Georgia Tech and North Carolina, but that has not been enough to slow the Tar Heels down in the first half. North Carolina has built a 20-14 lead.
Bryn Renner has thrown for 178 yards and two touchdowns and his receivers have dropped a handful of passes as well. Perhaps the weather conditions are playing a factor in to the production. Romar Morris has rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown to lead North Carolina’s offense and the Tar Heel defense has done well to not allow Georgia Tech to find a rhythm.
North Carolina wasted little tim in opening the scoring with a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. Morris capped a quick six-play drive with a four-yard touchdown run to the left side of the field, but North Carolina failed to convert a two-point conversion attempt. The lead was expanded to 13-0 following a Renner touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron.
Georgia Tech finally got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when David Sims barely cross the goal line before losing grip on the football. Sims had just crossed the goal line as the ball popped loose and was scooped up by North Carolina. The initial ruling was touchdown and a video review determined there was conclusive enough evidence to overturn the call. Ultimately it appears the right call was made but it was very close to being a punch-to-the-gut moment for the Yellow Jackets. If the ball had been ruled a fumble, the turnover likely would have upheld because the replay was so close either way. Down 13-0 at the time, not punching one in from the goal line would have left a very empty feeling for the home team.
Renner scrambled to keep a play alive inside the red zone on the ensuing possession and found Sean Tapley for another touchdown. Georgia Tech picked up a critical touchdown late in the half to cut in to the lead and maybe even flip the momentum in their favor. The Tar Heels could not get off the field on a third and long around midfield and Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee connected with Darren Waller for a 21-yard touchdown over the middle of the field. Lee has only attempted nine passes, which is typical of a Paul Johnson offense, but he has completed five of them for 82 yards and a touchdown.
The game doesn’t feel as though it should be as close as it is at the half, but credit to Georgia Tech for not going away at the end of the half. If North Carolina can pull this one out they will make a huge statement in the ACC Coastal Division, but right now Georgia Tech is in solid position to come back as well.