Week 13 - Georgia Tech at Georgia

Posted Nov 21, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction – Georgia Tech at Georgia

Georgia Tech (6-5) at Georgia (10-1) Nov. 24, 12:00, ESPN

Here's The Deal: Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate … with a few added twists and sidebars this November.

Georgia and Georgia Tech meet in Athens Saturday afternoon to add a new chapter to one of the South's most intense inter-conference rivalries. The Bulldogs have taken 10 of the last 11 meetings, ensuring that the Yellow Jackets remain on the back page in the Peach State. But the 107th renewal of the game is going to have a rare national appeal to it.

Georgia defeated Georgia Southern last Saturday, knowing it had already wrapped up the East Division of the SEC. What it never could have imagined is that later in the evening the nation's top two teams, Kansas State and Oregon, would have lost for the first time. Interpretation? The third-ranked Bulldogs are now two wins, this week Between the Hedges and next week in the Georgia Dome, from earning a place in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7.

Without even putting on the pads, Georgia Tech, too, qualified for a spot in its conference title game. The Yellow Jackets were going to need help from Duke, which hosts Miami this weekend, but the ‘Canes announced a second-straight self-imposed postseason ban on Monday. Interpretation? Tech will represent the ACC Coastal Division in Charlotte next Saturday, where Florida State will await as a heavy favorite.

It's been a rough year on the Flats for the Jackets. But with back-to-back cracks at high-profile top 10 teams, the program has a unique chance to alter the outlook of its 2012 season.

Why Georgia Tech Might Win: Yeah, it's a rivalry game, but Georgia won't be able to resist the temptation to look ahead to next week and Alabama.

The Bulldogs don't take the Yellow Jackets as seriously as the Yellow Jackets take the Bulldogs. That's what happens when one team consistently manhandles the other. Plus, Georgia has had a penchant for being a little unfocused at times during the season. Think the Tennessee and Kentucky games, for instance.

The Dawgs must now prepare for Paul Johnson's triple-option in a week, which is no small chore. In winning three straight games, Tech has really supercharged an offense that's produced 143 points during the streak. Johnson has done a great job of blending the talents of his two quarterbacks, Tevin Washington and Vad Lee. Both have contributed, with the latter producing three scores two weeks ago, and the former accounting for four against Duke on Saturday. Paced by a wave of eclectic backs, the Yellow Jackets are third nationally on the ground. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, are only ninth in their league at stopping the run.

Why Georgia Might Win: The Jackets may be rolling, but the Dawgs are rolling downhill.

Georgia hit rock bottom on Oct. 6, a 35-7 loss to South Carolina that was as bad as the score indicates. Since then, though, it's won five straight by an average score of 33-11. The defense has been downright nasty, taking its lead from ferocious LB Jarvis Jones. However, No. 29 is also surrounded by a swath of key playmakers, like NG John Jenkins, LB Alec Ogletree and FS Bacarri Rambo. This is easily the most talented and most physical D that Georgia Tech has faced all year.

On offense, the Yellow Jackets are predictable; the Bulldogs are not. This is a balanced Georgia attack that will dent opponents with the darts off the right arm of Aaron Murray and the assertive running of rookies Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The Dawgs will present a big problem for Tech defense that's been burned for at least 41 points in five of its last eight contests.

What To Watch Out For: Georgia Tech has had its biggest defensive problems when it's been unable to generate a pass rush. Georgia must protect Murray at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, which hasn't happened with as much consistency as the staff would like.

The Dawgs are young in the trenches, starting two sophomores and true freshman RT John Theus, and their youth has shown at times in 2012. It's also no coincidence that the Yellow Jackets have gotten to the quarterback 11 times during their current three-game winning streak. Particular attention ought to be paid to the linebackers, namely Jeremiah Attaochu. He can be streaky, but also has the nasty streak and the nose for the backfield to completely disarm an offense once he starts teeing off.

What Will Happen: Georgia cannot take this game lightly. And head coach Mark Richt knows it.

This could be a trap for the Bulldogs because of the circumstances and the opponent on the other side of the field. Georgia Tech wants this game badly, but last week's losses by Kansas State and Oregon may have been the worst thing to happen to the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia is now firmly in the BCS National Championship hunt. And if the Jackets don't provide enough motivation, the standings will. The Bulldogs are the far more talented team on both sides of the ball in this one. A slow start is possible, but a strong finish is more likely. The balance of the Georgia offense will wear down an average Tech D, pulling away with a flurry of second-half scores.

CFN Prediction: Georgia 40 … Georgia Tech 21
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Georgia -13 O/U: 64.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 4