Oct 21, 2010

Champs Sports Bowl Game of the Week: Georgia Tech at Clemson

The Champs Sports Bowl Game of the Week is a preview of a pivotal matchup featuring teams from the Big East and/or ACC that could impact the bowl picture.

Week Eight:
Georgia Tech (5-2, 3-1 ACC) at Clemson (3-3, 1-2 ACC)
Saturday, Oct. 23 – 3:30 p.m.
Memorial Stadium — Auburn, Ala.
Georgia Tech leads the series 49-24-2
Last Meeting: Dec. 5, 2009 (Georgia Tech 39, Clemson 34)

Georgia Tech Outlook

Georgia Tech relies heavily on the run, option-oriented offense and is No. 1 in the ACC in rushing offense with 328.1 yards per game and 21 touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets are currently on a three-game tear and quarterback Josh Nesbitt has been the driving force as he currently leads the league in rushing yards (649) and touchdowns (8).  Teammate Anthony Allen has amassed 600 yards and six scores on the ground. Allen is in second behind Nesbitt in the ACC.

The Georgia Tech defense has given up only 18.3 points and forced seven turnovers in the last three contests.

The trouble for the Yellow Jackets lies in their passing game. They are eighth in the ACC in passing efficiency (116.0) and last in passing offense (85.0 yards). Nesbitt completes 39.8% of his passes and has totaled 100+ yards passing in just three games this season. Stephen Hill is the lone receiver to have more than 10 catches on the year (11) while the team has only scored six times through the air.

Clemson Outlook

Clemson bounced back from a three-game losing streak last weekend when it defeated Maryland, 31-7. The Tigers racked up at least one score on offense, defense, and special teams. Clemson’s defense picked off the Terps three times in the second half. It has made teams punt an ACC-high 46 times this season and is second-best in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) behind league-leader Florida State. The defense is led by end Da’Quan Bowers, who leads the nation in tackles for loss (15.5). His nine sacks through six games is the most in Tiger history.

Clemson’s weakness is its passing game. Kyle Parker, who was projected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league, is at the bottom of the ACC in passing efficiency (51.3%). In the last two games, the Tigers have dropped 11 passes, two of which were in the end zone. The team hopes to improve on these low numbers this weekend as it welcomes the return of playmaking wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Impact on Bowl Picture

Virginia Tech currently leads the ACC Coastal but three teams are close behind the Hokies with only one conference loss — North Carolina, Miami, and Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets must keep pace with both Virginia Tech and Miami as they already have the tie-breaker against North Carolina. Clemson is 0-3 against Georgia Tech during head coach Dabo Swinney’s coaching tenure, including two tough games last year — one of which was the ACC Championship Game. Since the ACC bowl selection order is determined by conference wins and losses, an interdivisional game holds more weight. Clemson has already lost to a Coastal team (North Carolina), making this is a must-win game if they intend to compete for a conference championship. With Atlantic contenders Florida State and NC State looming on the calendar, a victory over a team the Tigers have not beaten with Swinney would give them momentum before these divisional showdowns.


Extra Point

 

This ACC Championship rematch is a rivalry that has been among the most competitive in the ACC over the last 14 years. In 15 games, 12 of them have been decided by five points or less. In the 2009 Championship, both teams tallied 300+ yards rushing and did not punt during the contest.
Expert Predictions

Andrea Adelson
ESPN.com CFB Blogger

PICK:  Georgia Tech
RECORD: 8-6 (4-3 CSB)

Bram Weinstein
ESPN Anchor

PICK:
  Clemson
RECORD: 10-4 (5-2 CSB)
Jay Gruden
Florida Tuskers Coach

PICK:
  Clemson
RECORD: 11-2 (5-2 CSB)
Chuck Beverly
FCSports Chairman

PICK:
  Georgia Tech
RECORD: 10-4 (5-2 CSB)

 

 

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