Both of these teams are trying to forget the pain of losing their final regular-season matchups against in-state rivals. WHO WILL FEEL LESS PAIN?!?! Will the SEC or the ACC prevail? Will the “extra time to prepare for Paul Johnson’s offense = win” narrative continue to persevere?
You’ll have to tune into the bowl that takes place from the City of Music to find out!
GEORGIA TECH (7-5) VS. OLE MISS (7-5) (MUSIC CITY BOWL)
Time: 3:15 p.m.
KEY FOR OLE MISS
Keep pace offensively. Ole Miss’ defense is pretty good, and narratives aside, after having time to prepare for Georgia Tech’s offense, it shouldn’t be a surprise. But you can’t beat Georgia Tech without scoring more points than they do. I know, I know. I’m breaking new ground here. But here’s the thing - defensive-minded teams, unless they’re truly elite, aren’t going to hold Georgia Tech to, say, 13 points or something. It’s just not likely. And so to continue to put pressure on the Georgia Tech offense to have to come from behind/keep pace, not to mention stay in the game and avoid letting Georgia Tech go on soul-sucking 10-minute drives that eat up most of the game clock, Ole Miss has to keep scoring. And - as will be discussed below - be sure to score off of turnovers. Virginia got five Georgia Tech turnovers earlier this season in a loss and turned them into exactly zero points. That can’t happen if you’re Ole Miss. Or, frankly, anyone. Seriously, that’s gross.
KEY FOR GEORGIA TECH
Avoid the derp. The Georgia Tech turnover problem has been highlighted in this space before, particularly as the season went on. Georgia Tech finished the year with 20 turnovers in its last nine games after turning it over just twice in its first three. Heck, after the three-turnover span in its first three games, Georgia Tech had five fourth-quarter turnovers in its next three games alone (eight total). Georgia Tech finished the year with seven fourth-quarter turnovers in its five losses, and none in its seven wins (12 total in the five losses, ten in seven wins). And so, yes...no more fumbling, no more throwing interceptions. Vad Lee was responsible for three of Georgia Tech’s four turnovers in its final two losses of the season via interception. And opponents scored 52 points off of those turnovers in Georgia Tech’s losses, compared to just seven points allowed in seven wins off of 10 turnovers. So, no more turnovers. Especially late.
HERE’S A GUY
Bo Wallace. The Ole Miss junior quarterback has been…well, he’s been really good sometimes. And he’s been pretty bad other times. It’s not rocket science for the Rebels (which, yes, they are still calling themselves in their game notes) - when he’s good, they at least have a chance. When he’s not, welp. Wallace had 12 touchdown passes to just two interceptions in Ole Miss’ seven wins compared to five touchdowns to seven interceptions in five losses. And he also completes nearly 70% of his passes in wins compared to nearly 59% in losses, despite averaging nearly the same number of yards per game in both. He broke the fragile hearts of his fan base in the Egg Bowl with his performance against Mississippi State, turning it over four times, including a game-sealing fumble. He’s certainly seeking some form of redemption headed into next season. This will certainly test the Georgia Tech secondary, which has been good at times but disastrous at others, particularly against good quarterbacks.
Robert (“Angels We Have Heard”) Godhigh. (The nickname was a nod to the fantastic hashtag, #ACCCarols. Search for it, if you haven’t, and you’re welcome in advance. And watch Hayes Permar’s accompanying video.) The former walk-on and winner of this year’s Brian Piccolo Award for coming back from multiple surgeries has really been a force for the Yellow Jackets, particularly in the latter half of the season. Through October, Godhigh had a total of 36 carries for 384 yards and one touchdown. But in November, he had 33 carries for 310 yards and five scores. And his catches went from 11 in August-October for 226 yards to 10 for 194 in November. He’s averaged 12.6 yards a touch in November and, per the Georgia Tech game notes, 54% of his touches all season result in first downs or touchdowns. And 40% of all his yards this year have come after first contact. That’s pretty remarkable. He’s a game-changer, as long as he gets the ball enough and Georgia Tech avoids its derpiness.
STATS ARE FOR LOSERS
This is the second meeting between Georgia Tech and Ole Miss; Georgia Tech leads it 2-1. But the teams haven’t played since the 1971 Sugar Bowl, which Ole Miss won, 41-18. BECAUSE THEY HAD EXTRA TIME TO PREPARE FOR THE TRIPLE OPTION, AMIRITE?!?! … Georgia Tech was the first program to win each of the four traditional major bowl games - Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton. And they did it by 1955! YOU’RE AT GEORGIA TECH! YOU CAN DO THAT! … A win would give the ACC its first Music City Bowl win since UNC’s infamous overtime win over Tennessee in 2010. … Ole Miss has won nine of its last ten bowl game appearances, including five in a row. … Ole Miss’ seven wins this season are the most for the program since 2009. All five of its losses were to teams that made bowl games. … This will be Georgia Tech’s sixth bowl game appearance under Paul Johnson in six seasons, but the Yellow Jackets are 1-4 in bowls so far, with the lone win coming last season against USC. … Here’s a random factoid for you: if you think expansion is bad now, well, you missed the early days. Both Ole Miss and Georgia Tech were charter members of the SEC in 1932, and Georgia Tech stayed in the league until 1964. They played just once during the regular season in that span. ONCE.
Georgia Tech Win: Pictures like these have to be an endangered species.
Georgia Tech Loss: Come on, guys. Do we really have to go through this again? EXTRA TIME TO PREPARE FOR PAUL JOHNSON’S OFFENSE = AUTOMATIC VICTORY, of course! With an extra dose of #ALLSECEVERYTHING on the side. SECSECSECSEC!
Ole Miss, 37-27. Not because I believe in the Paul Johnson narrative, but because I don’t believe in its secondary against this offense. Particularly if good Bo Wallace shows up.
Overall: 90-28 (38-19 ACC)