2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 13, Georgia at Georgia Tech
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Nov. 26 Georgia 31 …
at Georgia Tech 17
CFN Analysis: The Dawgs might have bigger fish to fry with LSU and the SEC championship, but getting the big rivalry win in relatively easy fashion was a huge end to the regular season. With ten straight wins, only LSU is hotter right now. … The Georgia Tech running game got its yards, but the Dawg defensive front didn’t let the Yellow Jackets control the game like they needed to. The passing of Aaron Murray offset the running of all the Tech options. … Alec Ogletree was a man. He had to make play after play in the open field, and he came through with ten solo stops and 11 tackles total. … With Isaiah Crowell out, Georgia went to a running back by committee approach, with Murray getting 22 yards, too, and it worked. Zander Ogletree, Branden Smith, and Ken Malcome were effective enough to get by. … Are the Dawgs playing well enough to beat LSU? Probably not, but they’re still playing as well as anyone in the nation.
The offense got overwhelmed by the Georgia athleticism and talent up front. Tevin Washington threw two picks and completed just 3-of-10 passes, and he didn’t get enough room to properly run the attack. … Synjyn Days was a bit more effective, completing 3-of-5 passes for 78 yards, and running for 17 yards on six carries, but overall the Tech ground game didn’t get enough big plays. The longest run was just 27 yards. … The Georgia lines beat the Georgia Tech lines. It turned out to be that simple. … An 8-4 record is nice, but after losing the rivalry game for a third year in a row, a bowl win is a must.
(AP) ATLANTA -- The celebration didn't last long. Georgia had not even finished off another win over its state rival when the fans in red and black began to chant, "LSU! LSU! LSU!"
Time for an even bigger game.
Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes and No. 13 Georgia extended its domination over No. 25 Georgia Tech, pulling away for a 31-17 victory Saturday that sent the Bulldogs into the Southeastern Conference championship game on quite a roll.
Next weekend, they'll be back in Atlanta to face the top-ranked Tigers riding a 10-game winning streak.
"This game is over with," Georgia's Branden Smith said. "I'm thinking about LSU right now. This is a good win, but we've got another mission."
The Bulldogs (10-2) have bounced back from losing their first two games and will take plenty of confidence into the title game, even though they'll be a heavy underdog against the unbeaten Tigers, who wrapped up the SEC West with a 41-17 rout of No. 3 Arkansas on Friday.
LSU will be trying to lock up a spot in the national championship game. But the Bulldogs might prove to be pesky, putting together their longest winning streak within a season since 1982.
"We just have to play the way we've been playing," linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "If we don't give away points, there's no way they can beat us."
Murray extended his school record for touchdown passes in a season to 32, hooking up with Michael Bennett and Chris Conley in the first half, and Tavarres King and Aron White in the third quarter as Georgia cruised to its 10th win over the Yellow Jackets in 11 years.
Georgia Tech (8-4) rushed for 243 yards out of the triple-option against the nation's second-ranked run defense, but just 79 came after halftime. Tevin Washington threw a pair of interceptions. The result was all too familiar to the Yellow Jackets: another loss to the Bulldogs.
"I don't like losing to nobody, but when it's in-state, when it's your rival," linebacker Julian Burnett said, his voice trailing off. "We're tired of being the little brothers in the state."
Georgia didn't have much trouble in this one even without freshman star Isaiah Crowell, who was in uniform but didn't play because of an ankle injury.
With its top two tailbacks hurt, the Bulldogs improvised. Defensive backs Smith and Brandon Boykin both lined up in the backfield, with Smith getting five carries. Alexander Ogletree broke off a key 21-yard gain on the first carry by a Georgia fullback this season. Receiver Malcolm Mitchell had a 20-yard run on a reverse.
"I'm here to help the team win," Smith said. "It doesn't matter what position I play. If they need me to play center, I'm ready."
The Bulldogs didn't need much of a ground game, not the way Murray carved up the Georgia Tech secondary. The third-year sophomore overcame an early interception -- when he was hit on the elbow as he threw -- to complete 19 of 29 passes for 252 yards. He's thrown 14 touchdown passes in the last four games, breezing past the old school record of 25 TDs in a season set by Matthew Stafford, who went on to be the top pick in the NFL draft.
"The offensive line has been lights out. Our receivers have been making great catches," Murray said. "It's easy being a quarterback when you can sit back in the pocket with plenty of time and just hit open receivers."
Murray got off to an ominous start. On Georgia's first possession, he was hammered as he threw by linebacker Steve Sylvester, the ball fluttering into the arms of Louis Young for the interception.
That was about the only miscue.
Murray connected with Bennett on a 15-yard touchdown that gave Georgia an early lead. After Georgia Tech responded by driving nearly the length of the field to set up a short field goal than made it 7-3, the Bulldogs took it right back the other way. Murray completed five of six attempts to account for all but 3 yards on an eight-play, 80-yard drive, the last of his completions a 14-yarder to Conley in the corner of the end zone.
Georgia Tech's last gasp was an 80-yard drive of its own. David Sims finished it off with a 5-yard run, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and diving into the end zone.
Georgia tacked on a field goal with just 3 seconds left in the half, getting a second chance when Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson called a timeout just before the snap trying to mess up the Bulldogs. If only he had known they would make a bad snap, leading to an ugly miss by a Blair Walsh. On the do-over, Walsh knocked through a 41-yarder.
The Bulldogs didn't have to punt until their sixth possession, with nearly 5 minutes gone in the third quarter.
"That's deflating. That's deflates the whole team," Johnson said. "The other thing that's deflating is when they score right before halftime."
The Yellow Jackets had done some of their best work in the third quarter, but that period belonged to the Bulldogs on this day. Boykin got it started with a 60-yard kickoff return, and three plays later Murray went to King for a 3-yard touchdown and a 24-10 lead.
The Georgia Tech defense finally stiffened, forcing a couple of punts even after Washington threw the first of his interceptions. But the Yellow Jackets couldn't overcome a second pick, this one snatched away by Shawn Williams at the Georgia Tech 23. Even though Williams was penalized 15 yards for spiking the ball, the Bulldogs punched it in.
Ogletree had the biggest play, a third-and-2 carry all the way to Georgia Tech 9. Then it was Murray to White for the TD that put it away.
Georgia Tech yanked Washington and scored a meaningless touchdown on Orwin Smith's 16-yard run with 6 1-2 minutes to go. That wasn't much of a salve for this familiar wound.
"We definitely don't like losing to these guys," Washington said.
Georgia (9-2) at Georgia Tech (8-3) Nov. 26, 12:00, ESPN
Here’s The Deal … There won’t be a whole lot at stake in Atlanta this Saturday … except bragging rights in an intense rivalry that began in 1893.
The nickname for this annual event, Clean Old-Fashioned Hate, pretty much sums up the demeanor of the two programs on the final weekend of each regular season. They don’t like each other much. For Georgia, the number nine seems rather poignant for this season.
The Bulldogs have toppled their rival in nine of the last 10 years, and have won nine straight games in 2011 to capture their first SEC East title since 2005. It’s been a much-needed bounce back year for head coach Mark Richt, whose team will play a major role in the National Championship picture. The Dawgs must remain focused on the task at hand, knowing that a return trip to Atlanta to play LSU, Alabama or Arkansas next Saturday is in the on-deck circle.
Is the glass half-full or half-empty on the Flats? On the one hand, Georgia Tech has exceeded expectations after going 6-7 in 2010. On the other, the team has endured a rough second half, losing three of its last five games. The tiebreaker to the aforementioned question will come over the next two games. If the Yellow Jackets can snap Georgia’s winning streak and go on to win a bowl game, 2011 is a smashing success. If not, there’ll be differing opinions in the offseason on whether head coach Paul Johnson passed or failed in his fourth year.
Why Georgia Might Win: The Dawgs figure to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Georgia should be able to run the ball against a mediocre Yellow Jackets front seven that’s yielding 4.5 yards a carry. The ground game expects to get back rookie sensation Isaiah Crowell, who missed most of last week’s Kentucky game to an ankle problem. And if Crowell happens to be less than 100%, the staff has no reservations of ratcheting up the role of QB Aaron Murray, who’s thrown an SEC-best 28 touchdown passes.
The defense has been the primary catalyst since the 0-2 start, rising to No. 2 nationally at stopping the run, and fourth in total defense. Just once during the nine-game winning streak has a team scored more than 20 points on the Bulldogs.
Why Georgia Tech Might Win: Sure, Georgia can stop the run, but can it stop the option?
The Yellow Jackets are grinding out 323 yards a game, getting contributions from QB Tevin Washington, A-back Orwin Smith and B-back David Sims. The Bulldogs won’t have enough time to prepare for a system that will exhaust opponents with its myriad looks and personnel mixes. What happens if Crowell is still somewhat gimpy, and top backup Carlton Thomas remains suspended? If Georgia is forced to throw, and loses its balance, the passing game becomes far less potent. The Dawgs are relying on a lot of young receivers, such as freshmen Malcolm Mitchell and Michael Bennett, who’ll struggle to shake loose from a physical, veteran Tech defensive backfield.
What To Watch Out For: Can Georgia LB Jarvis Jones adjust to the change in tempo?
The sophomore has been a breakout star in his first year since transferring from USC, notching 58 tackles, 18.5 stops for loss and 12.5 sacks. However, he’s more accustomed to pinning his ears back, and getting making a bee line for the backfield. That approach, however, could cause him to over pursue, and miss some opportunities for big hits. Jones will have to play with a little more patience and discipline versus a Georgia Tech offense that throws infrequently, and is always moving in a north-south direction.
What Will Happen: For the first time in six years, Georgia has another game immediately following this one, so it’ll have to keep its eye on the ball. Plus, this is a game that Georgia Tech desperately wants. Defense will be the deciding factor at Bobby Dodd Stadium; the Bulldogs have shown an ability to make stops at critical junctures, while the Yellow Jackets have not. With help in the backfield from Crowell, Murray will enjoy a solid afternoon, helping extend the Dawgs’ winning streak, and their dominance of Tech.
CFN Prediction: Georgia 30 … Georgia Tech 23
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