It’s happened again. I’ve been sucked in. Like my former co-host Kirk Carter (though certainly not because of anything he has written, trust me) I believe in the Red and Black. I think we’re going to come out of Atlanta with a win.
First, when comparing two teams from different leagues, you have to compare the overall strength of the league, not just the two teams. We don’t really have opponents in common so the stats don’t mean as much. So, while the ACC has been strong top to bottom, the SEC has superior athletes and is stronger overall than the ACC. Therefore, you really have to look at the intangibles.
This game means everything to Georgia. This might as well be our bowl game because I know this team won’t get fired up to play the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Georgia Tech already got the monkey off their back by beating us last season. They can lose this game and still go to the ACC championship and more importantly, can go to a BCS bowl game for the first time ever since the system was created in 1998. Even Tech fans have conceded this point, so trust me, it weighs more than you might think.
The “No One Believes In Us” factor is unbelievably huge in sports. You might ask, why hasn’t this helped Tech in the past? Simply put, they haven’t had the athletes, mentality or coaching to to compete in the last ten years. Georgia does.
There has been a lot of hate thrown in the direction of Joe Cox this season. Most of it has been earned because the defense has put him in such crappy situations. Lets face it, we all said if Joe Cox had to win games with his arm we’d be in trouble. And, well, he has had to throw it a lot to get back in games. But actually, Cox is almost identical to other quarterbacks who have beaten Tech or had games within a touchdown (in similar systems. This eliminates Va Tech and I threw out Ponder because he’s been hurt this season). Miami’s Jacory Harris, Wake’s Riley Skinner and Clemson’s Kyle Parker all average 21.67 touchdowns and 13.33 interceptions. Joe Cox is 21-14. The average QB rating of those guys is 141, Cox is 138. (For comparisons sake, the average QB rating for those who Tech murdered is 114.) So Cox fits the mold. Combine that with the resurgence of Georgia’s running game and athleticism at wide receiver equal trouble for Tech’s defense.
But that was never really the question, was it? Everyone wonders if Georgia will be able to slow down this Tech offense. Really, Georgia’s run defense has been quite stout. They also have plenty of tape on how to slow down the option from Miami and LSU last season and a whole lot of guys who remember what happened last season. Georgia has the same athletes as the LSU and Miami teams unlike most in the ACC. There is no reason Georgia should not be able to duplicate those teams. None.
To be honest, there’s not really any tape on “how to beat Georgia”. Basically, you just have to wait for them to beat themselves. This season it’s been a very safe gameplan. But late in the season, Georgia actually put things together. The Auburn game was the best I saw all season. No turnovers and few penalties. This even continued in the first half against Kentucky. Everything was going to plan. Which is when Georgia lost focus. Again. After that despicable performance, The Dawgs know they can’t let up for one second because they’re so prone to shooting themselves in the foot.
But that’s really what this game will come down to. If Georgia is able to keep composure and focus, they will win by double digits. I really believe it. And I’m a gambling man. So that’s what the bet is: If you believe Georgia will keep disciplined, take the Dawgs +8 as I am. If you don’t, bet Tech immediately because that line will only go up.
Speaking of lines, here are the rest of my picks.
Clemson travels to South Carolina for the annual neither-of-us-are-that-good rivalry game. It’s so cute. Why is the line so low? Seems very fishy. Don’t over think this: USC has been strong against the run which is really all Clemson has. It’s a rivarly game at home. Take the points. USC +3
Tennessee goes to the Bluegrass in a game they’ve won for the last 30+ years. The bet here is if Lane Kiffin can keep his team motivated. I know Kentucky will be ready because they always get fired up for the Vols (trust me). But Phil Fulmer made it clear last season that beating UK was a top priority during his pregame speech. So I think they’ll be ready. Plus, UK beating us last week helps this line greatly. Vols -3
Ole Miss heads to Mississippi State in a team that’s been undervalued all season. I thought Ole Miss would handle LSU last week which makes me think they’ll take out some anger on Miss St. My theory has been, when in a rivalry game, take the underdawg. I should pick State, I just don’t want to. Ole Miss -8
Florida State goes to the evil Gators in Tim Tebow’s final game. Blah Blah Blah. Good riddance. Get him out of here. I think this means a lot more to FSU than it does to the Gators. We also don’t know how long Tebow will play because he’ll need to be completely healthy and ready for the SEC championship game. FSU +24 (By the way, if I’d told you that would be the line ten years ago you would have stabbed me in the jaw. Crazy).
Finally, I’m taking credit already for Auburn covering against Alabama. It was on the podcast and I was thinking it from the beginning of the week. Yup, I’m that low. After last week, I’m 30-22 ATS. Make your bets accordingly and be sure to swat any Yellow Jackets you come across this weekend (human or not).
Until next time, Ball Hard.