Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Georgia Tech’s stock rises in Orange Bowl, while SEC’s reputation takes a hit

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The narrative during college football’s regular season was relatively straight forward. The SEC West was college football’s best and deepest division, while the ACC Coastal was one of the worst.

When the champions of the ACC Coastal met one of the top teams in the SEC West for the 80th edition of the Capital One Orange Bowl, the SEC West was left in the dust.

The No. 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets simply ran over the No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs. This is the same Bulldogs squad that was ranked No. 1 overall at the onset of the first College Football Playoff rankings.

Not only did Georgia Tech beat Mississippi State, Paul Johnson‘s squad embarrassed the Bulldogs as the Yellow Jackets ran for 452 yards on their way to a 49-34 victory.

With the impressive win, Georgia Tech, 11-3, will almost certainly finish the season ranked in the Top 10. At least Johnson emphatically believes so.

This will build momentum for the Yellow Jackets as they enter the offseason. It will also potentially grant the program a favorable rankings at the beginning of next season.

Johnson’s triple option and aggressive defense are very difficult to prepare for and play against. Mississippi State is merely the latest to find out just how hard it really is.

Meanwhile, the SEC is no longer the prettiest girl at the dance.

The new year couldn’t get here fast enough for the league after being bruised and bloodied during New Year’s Eve. Mississippi State and Ole Miss combined to lose their bowl games by a score of 91-37.

The rankings for SEC teams this season proved to be a mirage — at least among those teams that already played in bowl games.

The biggest change coming out of this year’s bowl games might not be the new College Football Playoff. Instead, the once pristine facade of the SEC appears to be cracking as other programs close the gap.

Mississippi State struggles with Georgia Tech’s option, trails 21-20 in Orange Bowl

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Just when an opponent thinks it figured out Paul Johnson‘s triple option scheme, Georgia Tech’s offense counters and attacks them in a different manner.

The No. 12 Yellow Jackets came out swinging against the No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs adjusted during the second quarter, but Georgia Tech threw a counter punch that allowed them to take a 21-20 lead into halftime of the 80th Capital One Orange Bowl.

After an early turnover, it didn’t take long for the Yellow Jackets to capitalize. Georgia Tech quickly drove the ball 36 yards with senior running back Synjyn Days opening the scoring with a three-yard touchdown run.

Before the first quarter ended, Johnson’s squad manufactured another scoring drive. This time, the Yellow Jacket stung the Bulldogs with a 41-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Thomas to senior wide receiver Darren Waller.

Mississippi State adjusted in the second quarter after falling behind 14-0. A pair of field goals and a five-yard touchdown run from quarterback Dak Prescott brought the Bulldogs within one point.

However, Johnson unleashed his option quarterback and allowed Thomas to start pushing the ball down the field. The sophomore was 3-for-3 on the Yellow Jackets’ final drive before the quarterback scampered 13 yards for Georgia Tech’s third touchdown.

Overall, Georgia Tech gained 259 total yards. Mississippi State would no not be outdone, though.

A Hail Mary pass as the first half clock expired allowed the Bulldogs to again pull within one point going into halftime.

Punch. Counter punch.

Georgia Tech controlled the first half, yet Mississippi State wouldn’t go away. The Yellow Jackets will continue to adjust their offensive system on the fly. The Bulldogs will need to take advantage of their athleticism and overall talent to eventually overcome Georgia Tech’s superior scheme.

CFT Previews: Capital One Orange Bowl

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WHO: No. 7 Mississippi State (10-2) vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech (10-3)
WHAT: The 80th Capital One Orange Bowl
WHERE: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. ET Dec. 31 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Assignment football will be the name of the game when the No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs meet the No. 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

The last time Mississippi State traveled to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl was 1941.  Head coach Allyn McKeen led his team onto the field against the Georgetown Hoyas 11 months before the United States experienced the attack at Pearl Harbor. The Mississippi State Maroons — as they were called at the time — won the contest 14-7.

Fast forward 73 years, and the Bulldogs will face another throwback offense in the Orange Bowl.

Georgia Tech’s triple option attack is the most difficult run game to stop among the Power Five conferences. The Yellow Jackets averaged 333.6 yards per game. That is nearly 30 more yards per game than the Wisconsin Badgers with Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon on the roster.

Playing an option offense is all about discipline. Each defender along the front seven has an assignment they must complete on each and every down. If one of those defenders fail, the Yellow Jackets will be able to exploit the crease that is inevitably created.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen isn’t just worried about the triple option. Justin Thomas isn’t a typical run-first quarterback in Paul Johnson‘s system.

“…he’s got guys in there that run the system very, very well,” Mullen said during his final meeting with the media Tuesday, via MississippiState.scout.com. “They have a play-making quarterback to me that’s dangerous, not just running the option, obviously, which is what he needs to be able to do, but also extending plays and making those outside-the-box plays when it all breaks down being able to make something else happen outside of the framework of the play, makes them a pretty difficult team to stop.”

The undersized signal-caller is a dynamic running threat, but he can also beat teams with his arm. Despite being an option quarterback, Thomas already threw for 17 touchdowns this season.

However, the Bulldogs have consistently won the battle in the trenches this season. Mississippi State owns one of the most talented and deepest defensive lines in college football. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney — all 6-5 and 245 pounds of him — will be roaming behind that front wall. Mississippi State has the size and athleticism up front to present plenty of problems even for Georgia Tech’s prolific rushing attack.

Meanwhile, quarterback Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs offense will face the nation’s 64th-ranked defense. Despite its ball control offense, Georgia Tech still surrenders nearly 400 yards per game. Prescott and running back Josh Robinson — both of which already ran for more than 900 yards this season — should be able pound the ball as well.

This is Georgia Tech’s seventh appearance in the Orange Bowl, but the Yellow Jackets last victory came in 1952. It’s unlikely that trend will change this year.

THE PREDICTION: Mississippi State 31, Georgia Tech 28

Running wild: Florida State leads Georgia Tech 28-21 in ACC Championship Game

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It’s just another day at the office for this year’s Florida State Seminoles squad. The nation’s fourth-ranked squad got off to another slow start.

However, the Seminoles didn’t take the entire half to adjust like it has done numerous times this season. Instead of trailing at halftime yet again, the Seminoles came on strong to post a 28-21 lead against the No. 11 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets after two quarters of play in the ACC Championship Game.

At the start of the contest, it was a different story. The Seminoles defense looked completely lost trying to defend Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack.

The Yellow Jackets easily moved the ball without even throwing it once. In fact, Paul Johnson‘s offense ran the ball 26 straight times and the first pass didn’t occur until the second quarter.

The heavy dose of the run game didn’t slow Georgia Tech in the least. They scored a touchdown during their first three drives of the game.

Georgia Tech finished the first half with 214 rushing yards. And it won’t be an easier to stop the Yellow Jackets in the second half after Florida State’s most-talented defensive lineman, Eddie Goldman, was forced to leave the game due to a leg injury.

Florida State might not have been clicking on a cylinders on defense, but it’s offense proved to be unstoppable. The Seminoles had four possessions in the first half. They scored all four times.

Like Georgia Tech, the Seminoles had their way when they decided to run the football.

Florida State’s offensive line dominated the Yellow Jackets’ defensive line at the point of attack. Freshman running back Dalvin Cook ran wild and led all rushers with 99 yards.

Unlike Georgia Tech, Florida State proved to be explosive throwing the football.

Quarterback Jameis Winston made the Yellow Jackets secondary pay during two breakdowns in coverage. Tight end Nick O’Leary and wide receiver Rashad Greene both grabbed touchdown receptions of over 40 yards with no Georgia Tech defender within 15 yards of them.

Winston sat in the pocket without fear of being touched and completed 12-of-17 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns. The final touchdown came with 30 seconds left in the second quarter when Winston found Greene open for their second scoring connection of the evening.

The second half now becomes a beauty contest for Florida State. It isn’t simply about winning to maintain a spot among the top four teams. The No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes are absolutely crushing the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game. The No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs already won big earlier in the day. And the No. 6 Baylor Bears hold a two-score lead over the No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats in the third quarter.

Florida State needs to prove they are one of the best teams in the nation with a strong second-half effort to win the ACC Championship Game.

Georgia Tech claims ACC Coastal crown with Duke’s loss to North Carolina

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When the Duke Blue Devils hosted the North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday, it was all about the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

North Carolina’s dominant 45-20 victory over the rival Blue Devils handed Georgia Tech the ACC Coastal crown and placed Paul Johnson‘s team in the ACC Championship Game against the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles.

The school already released a statement with reaction to winning the ACC Coastal:

Meanwhile, Duke fell to 4-3 in the division, while North Carolina improved and now sports the same conference record.

The Blue Devils’ defense simply didn’t show up to play Thursday. North Carolina racked up a whopping 592 total yards. The Tar Heels were dominant at the point of attack and ran the ball for 316 of those yards. Three different players ran for at least 96 yards. Sophomore running back T.J. Logan led the way with 116 yards on 18 carries.

North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams also proved to be a difficult matchup for Duke. The dual-threat quarterback accumulated 374 total yards and four total touchdowns. Dukes’ offense only gained four more yards than Williams did.

Williams’ effort placed him in North Carolina’s record books:

The quarterback’s performance almost made everyone forget about the fact he also fumbled the ball three times.

The entire contest was plagued by mistakes. A combined six turnovers were committed. Duke was never able to recover from two early fumbles, though.

Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone also didn’t rise to the occasion. The senior signal-caller was 22-of-40 passing for 262 yards.

Once the first quarter ended, Duke was never in the contest. The Tar Heels went into Wallace Wade Stadium, ran their rivals out of the building and claimed the Victory Bell as their own.

Both teams are still bowl eligible, but the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t as bright as it once was for Duke. Instead, the Blue Devils ran smack into a Ramblin’ Wreck.