2008 Chick-Fil-A Bowl Preview
#13 Georgia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC) vs. LSU (7-5, 3-5 SEC)
December 31st, 2008 @ 8:00 PM (EST) – ESPN – Atlanta, Georgia
The Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl is the final bowl game before the New Year begins, something that can’t come soon enough for LSU fans. The defending National Champions have fallen way back from last year’s successes and aren’t even ranked going into their bowl game. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech is having a stunning turnaround under first year coach Paul Johnson after a rough season last fall.
Georgia Tech’s first year running the triple option has been an enormous success. Most people wrote off the Yellow Jackets in the preseason but Tech’s players quickly took to the system and are on the verge of a ten win season. The Yellow Jackets have played well down the stretch, winning three of their last four, all against ranked teams. Highlighting the turnaround season was their first win over archrival Georgia in seven years, in which the Yellow Jackets were virtually unstoppable on offense. Georgia Tech has also been bailed out by the defense a few times this year, most notably on a forced fumble at the goal line with less than a minute left against Florida State to preserve a 31-28 win. By all accounts, Tech is a very solid team.
Louisiana State, on the other hand, struggled mightily down the stretch. The Tigers lost four of their last six and the only wins came against Tulane and Troy (who they had no business defeating after spotting Troy a four touchdown lead). In fact, LSU’s ‘best’ win all season came against 7-5 South Carolina, their only win over a BCS conference team with a winning record! The Tigers have struggled on offense, turning the ball over far too frequently and their defense has lacked their usual bite. The Tigers will likely start true freshman Jordan Jefferson (who played well in the season-ending loss to Arkansas) instead of redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee, who has had seven interceptions returned for touchdowns this year. On the bright side, LSU has had a fairly solid running game and tailback Charles Davis is one of the country’s best players. However, LSU players and fans never imagined that a rebuilding year after a National Title would mean a 5 loss season.
This game will feature very little passing. Georgia Tech only completed one pass in their win over Georgia (starting QB Josh Nesbitt doesn’t even have 100 attempts this season) and LSU will do their best to run the ball to keep the pressure off of Jefferson. Both teams played Mississippi State and Georgia this fall and Tech had the better record at 2-0, while LSU was beaten badly by Georgia at home. LSU has actually struggled stopping good teams on offense this year, allowing over 50 points to both Florida and Georgia. Even more concern for LSU fans should be this statistic: In the second half of the season, LSU has allowed over 30 points per game while Georgia Tech finished up their regular season putting up 40 points or more in consecutive games against ranked teams. Georgia Tech will also be far more excited to be playing in the game (versus LSU who played in BCS games the past two years) and the Techies will have the benefit of playing only a few minutes from their campus. Expect Georgia Tech to be as rude of a host as LSU was in winning BCS games the past two years in New Orleans. Georgia Tech will run all over LSU and cap off a very successful first season under Paul Johnson with a win in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl Pick: Georgia Tech 38 - LSU 27
by Matt Baxendell
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