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2010 Independence Bowl - Air Force vs Ga Tech
Air Force QB Tim Jefferson & GT RB Anthony Allen
Air Force QB Tim Jefferson & GT RB Anthony Allen
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 26, 2010


So you're into high-octane air attacks, passes flying through the air, and lots of deep balls. Wait for the other bowls. The 2010 Advocare V100 Independence Bowl will feature the two best running games in the country as Tim Jefferson leads the Air Force attack while Anthony Allen tries to close out a disappointing Georgia Tech season with a win. Check out the CFN Preview & Prediction.

2010 Advocare V100 Independence

Air Force
(8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)

 
Saturday, December 27th 4:00 ESPN  

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Pick ATS: Air Force  Confidence Score: 71
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 22 out of 35
SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history

If this game was broadcast in black and white, you’d swear it was 1954.

This year’s edition of the Independence Bowl will have a throwback feel to it, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Both Georgia Tech and Air Force lean heavily on the triple-option, ranking No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the ground. Both programs are holding out longshot hopes of regaining the services of key cogs from their ground games. The Yellow Jackets lost all-star QB Joshua Nesbitt to a broken arm in early November, robbing the offense of a veteran and an integral piece of the offensive puzzle. Since the middle of October, the Falcons have been without FB Jared Tew, who was the team’s leading rusher when he broke his fibula. Both are seniors and would love one more opportunity to suit up.

Statistics In Yards
AF   GT
5,249 Total
Offense
4,974
2,341 Total
Defense
4,544
32.3 Scoring
Offense
27.6
22.3 Scoring
Defense
26.2
3,815 Rushing
Offense
3,924
2,341 Rushing
Defense
2,036
1,434 Passing
Offense
1,050
1,880 Passing
Defense
2,508
0.08 Turnover Margin -0.17
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
AF   GT
4 QBs 3
4 RBs 4.5
2 WRs 2
3.5 O Line 4
3.5 D Line 2.5
3 LBs 3
3 DBs 3
4 STs 4
4.5 Coach 4.5
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
Georgia Tech is back in the postseason for a 14th consecutive year, but it’s hardly been cause for a parade around the Flats. It’s been a letdown season for a program that won the 2009 ACC Championship and faced Iowa in the Orange Bowl. The Yellow Jackets were unable to approach last year’s magic, failing to recover from key departures to the NFL Draft or fulfill elevated expectations. While Nesbitt’s injury certainly didn’t help matters, it’s not as if the program was soaring when he was in the huddle. In fact, it was only 5-4, which included an unacceptable loss to Kansas in Week 2.

This is an important game for head coach Paul Johnson and Nesbitt’s understudy, Tevin Washington. Johnson, after engineering so much success in his first two seasons, doesn’t want to squander too much of the momentum he’s built in Atlanta. Slipping below .500 and losing to an unranked Mountain West team could cause that to happen. Regardless of Nesbitt’s status, Washington is expected to play. Just a true sophomore, he’s a big part of the future at Georgia Tech, and every rep he gets will be valuable down the road.

Air Force road a bit of a rollercoaster this season, rising into the Top 25 with a 5-1 start, dropping three straight to the Mountain West elite, and then closing with a perfect November. Of greatest importance was the Nov. 6 rout of Army, which secured the Falcons’ first Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy since 2002. The Falcons have enjoyed a successful run under head coach Troy Calhoun, who’s won at least eight games and bowled in each of his four seasons since coming over from the NFL. And after three consecutive years of appearing in the Armed Forces Bowl, everyone associated with the Academy is happy to be headed to Shreveport, La. and a change of scenery.

In Johnson’s six seasons in Annapolis, Air Force defeated him only time back in 2002. The Falcons get another crack at the coach, this time as the leader of Georgia Tech. They also have a chance to make some postseason noise for a second straight year after ambushing favored Houston last December.

Players to Watch: With or without Tew, Air Force is going to grind it out between the tackles at least 50 times. There are plenty of options and no chance that any one player will be gassed in the second half. Like all option attacks, it all begins with QB Tim Jefferson, who’s run for 15 scores and thrown for 10 more. The flash in the running game comes from TB Asher Clark, the lone 1,000-yard rusher and the best threat to rip off a 25-yard gain. When Tew went down, Nathan Walker stepped into the fullback slot, running for 264 yards over the last three games. Again, options.

With neither team likely to throw with much regularity, the defensive backs will be instrumental in stepping up and defending the run. That won’t be a problem for either program. Georgia Tech has an active secondary that improved all season against the pass and isn’t bashful about filling lanes and defending the run. It’s a veteran group wrapped around one very talented true freshman, S Isaiah Johnson. The other regulars are all upperclassmen, led by CB Dominique Reese. Playing bigger than his 5-11, 193-pound frame, he’s made 61 tackles, eight stops behind the line, and broken up nine passes.

Air Force’s answer in the defensive backfield is every bit as effective as Georgia Tech’s. All but one starter earned all-star recognition, Reggie Rembert as an All-Mountain West first teamer and Anthony Wright and Jon Davis as honorable mention. Davis leads the team with 89 tackles and Rembert has a team-high three interceptions and nine pass breakups. The Falcons will need this group to play more like linebackers in order to slow down the Yellow Jacket running game. As a team, they’re 100th nationally versus the run, allowing 4.7 yards a carry. Undersized, these defensive backs prefer to deliver the payload with a head of steam rather than the other way around.

As expected, Washington is a terrific all-around athlete, who’ll make things happen with his feet. He showed that down the stretch against Miami, Duke, and Georgia. He’ll also spend much of the game deciding whether to pitch the ball to Anthony Allen, Orwin Smith, or Roddy Jones. Allen is the B-back, the feature guy, who has rushed for 1,225 yards and six touchdowns. He’s a straight-up, north-south runner, earning looks from NFL scouts this season. Smith and Jones, on the other hand, are shiftier options with that extra gear to go the distance. Smith has emerged in his second season, averaging almost 10 yards a carry.

Air Force will win if ... : the defense rises up and makes stops on third down.

This has been a problem all year for the Falcons, which rank 112th nationally in third down stops. The last thing they can afford is to allow Georgia Tech to extend drives and keep the ball for lengthy periods of time. Air Force simply doesn’t have the size or the depth to handle the wear and tear of that type of a game. It has to do something positive on first and second downs, and force Washington or Nesbitt to drop back to throw more than he’s accustomed. If the final box score indicates that the Yellow Jackets converted more than 50% of its third down attempts, there’s a good chance that the Falcons will fade over the course of the final quarters. That’s simply not the kind of game that they’re built to win.

Georgia Tech will win if ... : the quarterbacks account for more than touchdowns than turnovers.

This position matters at every school, but more so with the Yellow Jackets. They need Washington, Nesbitt, or a combination of the two to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers and unlock the potential of the offense. When the quarterback is floundering, Georgia Tech struggles. When it’s acting like the point guard of a basketball team, the Jackets can be tough to corral. That means making pitches at the right time and occasionally hooking up on the outside with Stephen Hill, an underutilized threat at wide receiver. While overly simplistic, you can boil this game down to whichever quarterback best navigates defenses that are no strangers to the nuances of the option. For Tech, that means making the right decisions and finding the seams in the Air Force defense.

What will happen: Motivation never shows up in a box score. It often impacts it though. How badly does Georgia Tech want to be in Shreveport after going 6-6 in the regular season? It’s a fair question for a program that had visions of a repeat ACC title in 2010, yet beat one winning team, 7-5 and depleted Carolina on Sept. 18. Air Force, on the flip side, is always pumped to get a national spotlight versus a more recognizable opponent. It’s also fared well against other option offenses this season, holding Army and Navy below their season averages in rushing. The Falcons want this game more, which will be evident for all 60 minutes. They’ll scrap on defense, and move the ball on the ground by committee, winning in the postseason for a second straight year.

CFN Prediction: Air Force 31 … Georgia Tech 21 ... Line:
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Pick ATS: Air Force  Confidence Score: 71
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 22 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - Air Force  Pick Confidence - 4
- If you like passing, the Hawaii Bowl is for you. There's a chance the Falcons and Yellow Jackets combine to throw few than ten passes is everything goes according to plan. Blink, and you might miss a game that'll go by in a flash with the nation's No. 1 (GT) and No. 2 (Air Force) running attacks going at it.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Air Force  Pick Confidence - 31
- If you watch this game in black-and-white, you’ll swear it’s 1954. The nation’s top two running games operate out of option sets and throw the ball an average of a dozen times each.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - Air Force  Pick Confidence - 17
- If you want to trade political poker chips with your wife or significant other during the holidays, feign excitement about this game but then agree to miss it so that you can do errands or spend quality time. This contest will be over in a flash, given the amount of running plays involved. It really could sneak in under 3 hours and 10 minutes (but not three hours; too many commercials plus the extended bowl halftime).

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - Georgia Tech  Pick Confidence - 5
- I can smell the 28th right around the corner. This match-up is actually a bit tasty. How much longer is AF’s head coach Troy Calhoun for Colorado Springs? He’s built a solid program there, and yes, he’s a legacy. But it’s time to move on to a bigger stage, Troy. This is going to be a brutal, pounding football game, with the Falcons breaking a couple long TD runs in the fourth quarter to win it.

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Georgia Tech  Pick Confidence - 17
- Dueling triple option attacks on display in Shreveport. Both these teams are familiar with the intricacies of it, so that whole notion that you can stop it with time to prepare kind of goes out the window.

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Air Force  Pick Confidence - 23
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Georgia Tech  Pick Confidence - 20
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - Air Force  Pick Confidence - 14
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - Air Force  Pick Confidence -  33
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - Georgia Tech   Pick Confidence -  9