No. 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS) vs. No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS)
Capital One Orange Bowl Preview
Date and Time: Wednesday December 31st, 2014. 8:00PM EST
Where: Sun Life Stadium Miami Gardens, F.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSU -7.5/GT +7.5
Over/Under Total: 62
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The 2014 Capital One Orange Bowl will feature an unforeseeable matchup when the no. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs meet the no. 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets inside Sun Life Stadium. Before the year began, nobody expected either team to even contend in their conferences much less become one of the top teams in the country. The Yellow Jackets were coming off a 7-6 2013 campaign and were expected to be a middle of the road contender in the ACC. The Bulldogs were also coming off a 7-6 campaign from a year ago and nobody expected Dan Mullens team to contend with the big boys in the SEC West. Yet a season has past with both schools having had breakout seasons and looking to cap off the year with a prestigious Orange Bowl victory.
The Yellow Jackets breakout season featured 10 wins with an appearance in the ACC Championship Game. Georgia Tech actually held the lead over Florida State for a large portion of the ACC Championship Game before they faded in the 2nd half in a 37-35 loss. Still, Georgia Tech has proven that they are among the best teams in the country and they have once again brought a lot of publicity to Paul Johnsons rugged triple option offense. Johnsons patented old school style offense has proven to be extremely difficult to defend through their relentless ground attack. Georgia Techs offense has averaged a whopping 333 yards per game (3rd in FBS) on the ground this season which has resulted in 37 points per contest (19th in FBS).
If you happen to be unfamiliar with Georgia Techs triple option attack, it is quite entertaining to watch. The offense often lines up in a wishbone type of formation or something similar which gives them 3 to 4 different running options based on the defenses alignment. Quarterback Justin Thomas leads the team with 965 rushing yards while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Tailbacks Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days have both rushed for more than 700 yards each with a combined 15 touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets offense is difficult to defend especially during the middle of the season when defenses only have a few days of preparation.
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However, Georgia Tech has notably performed bad during the postseason in recent years losing 8 of their last 9 games (5 of 6 under head coach Paul Johnson). Many experts credit the fact that defenses have extra time to prepare for Georgia Techs offense as the reason towards their poor bowl performances. Mississippi State has been very good on defense this year giving up just 19.4 points (9th in FBS) per game. Therefore it will be interesting to see if the Bulldogs highly touted defense is up to the challenge and prepared for Georgia Techs quirky triple option attack when both schools meet on December 31st.
If the Bulldogs defense can get some stops, then surely Mississippi State fans must like their chances. Offensively, Mississippi State has been very strong this year behind the leadership of quarterback Dak Prescott who has helped create a dynamic yet balanced offense. The Bulldogs have the makings of power rushing attack with Prescott and running back Josh Robinson. The two start players have combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns as one of the best 1-2 punches in the SEC. Yet, Prescott has been equally effective with his arm throwing for just less than 3,000 passing yards with 24 touchdowns and just 10 picks. Needless to say, the Bulldogs have many ways to move the football with Prescott behind center. The Yellow Jackets have had some issues on defense which became nationally apparent in the loss to Florida State as they simply could not get any stops down the stretch. If Georgia Tech fails to get their stops against Mississippi State, it could be another disappointing result.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I have kind of hinted of how I believe this game will go. I think Mississippi States defense will be ready for the challenge and the Yellow Jackets defense will be on their heels all game. Take Mississippi St -7.5