No. 10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-2, 7-4 ATS) vs. No. 25 Clemson Tigers (8-4, 7-4 ATS) ACC Championship Game Tampa, F.L. Saturday December 5th, 8:00PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Georgia Tech -1/Clemson +1
Tampa, Florida is the site of the 2009 ACC Championship Game that will feature the no. 10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the no. 25 Clemson Tigers this Saturday night. In all actuality both teams were not top choices to make it from their respected divisions of the ACC this year, but nonetheless have fought their way for a shot at their Conference Title. The reward will be the winner gets an automatic BCS Bowl more specifically the Orange Bowl.
The loser on the other hand could land in a much less respectable bowl and rest assured neither team fought this hard get to the Championship Game to not bring home the hardware. The last time Clemson won the ACC was back in 1991 and Georgia Tech’s last moment of glory was the year before in 1990. For these two schools, the ACC Championship has been nearly two decades in the waiting and only one will prevail this Saturday night.
Unfortunately both of the ACC top two teams suffered disappointing losses to their rivals last week. Georgia Tech got behind Georgia and never could close ground falling 30-24. Clemson on the other hand was dominated by South Carolina in a disturbing outing falling to the Gamecocks 34-17. Perhaps it was a wake up call to the Tigers who have been desperate to get back in the National spotlight. However, they will have break a history of disappointments in the big games if that is to happen.
On the other side of the field the Yellow Jackets have just lined up and ran the ball all season long with their triple option attack. Georgia Tech ranks 2nd in college football averaging 305 yards per contest. The offense runs the ball behind QB Josh Nesbitt and tailback Jonathan Dwyer about 97% of the time. However, the passing game has been very affective hooking up with star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas who has racked up 1077 yards with 7 touchdowns this season. Thomas has brought home an impressive 24 yards per catch and is the big difference in the Yellow Jackets big play ability.
Defenses are normally caught off guard when Georgia Tech goes to the air and they will hope to catch the Tigers defense off guard a few times this Saturday. However, the real success on offense will come from their ground attack. Dwyer has posted over 1,200 yards for the second straight year and Nesbitt has produced 888 yards as well. The Clemson defense was run over by South Carolina last week allowing 223 yards up the middle which is a very bad sign in the days prior to taking on one of the best running teams in college football. Rest assured if Clemson does not step up their play, the Yellow Jackets will exploit that weakness again this Saturday.
On the Tigers side of the ball, they have been very dominating during ACC play this year averaging 34 points in conference play. CJ Spiller broke the all-time NCAA record with 7 kickoffs returned for a touchdown last week breaking open the opening kickoff against South Carolina. Spiller along with WR Jacobi Ford has displayed those types of big plays all year for the offense. However, both stars were rather ineffective last week especially Spiller who was thought to be in the midst of the Heisman Trophy race as he was held to just 18 yards on 9 carries. If Clemson is going to capture the win, they must get big plays from the playmakers.
QB Kyle Parker actually played a good game last week despite facing relentless pressure. Parker was 22 for 42 for 216 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 pick. However, those numbers don’t do justice for how well he played. Parker escaped a lot of pressure last week and made plays while buying time. Clemson will need more of the same and try to avoid the 3 and outs that have been a problem for most of the year. It is imperative that Clemson give their defenses a chance to rest because Georgia Tech’s offense can wear down defenses like no other with their running game. The Tigers must be able to make some plays and keep the chains moving which they have not had much problem this year in ACC action.
Jay’s Pick - Both teams had some big plays in their meeting earlier this year that resulted in a Georgia Tech 30-27 victory thanks to a field goal as time expired. I expect another close game perhaps with less big plays and less scoring. Georgia Tech racked up 301 yards rushing in the last meeting and I don’t see how the Clemson defense can be that much better again this meeting. Yellow Jackets do what they do best and run over the Tigers defense.