Week 14 - Georgia at Georgia Tech

Posted Nov 27, 2013

Week 14 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Georgia at Georgia Tech

Georgia (7-4) at Georgia Tech (7-4) Nov. 30, 3:30, ABC

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Clean, old-fashioned hate, sans a familiar face of late in this rivalry.

For the first time in four years, Aaron Murray will not be on the field for this storied rivalry. The Georgia quarterback suffered a torn ACL in last week's win over Kentucky, ending his amateur career. It was a disappointing chapter in a season filled with injuries and heartbreak in Athens. The Bulldogs began the year with so much promise, but a spate of downed starters and tough losses have caught up with them. All that's left to play for at this point is pride and postseason positioning.

Because of a scheduling quirk that included two games with FCS opponents, Georgia Tech needed seven wins to become bowl-eligible. Mission accomplished. The Yellow Jackets smoked Alabama A&M, 66-7, and they can still win the ACC Coastal if teams around them stumble. Tech has fared poorly against Georgia coach Mark Richt, winning just once in 12 tries.

Why Georgia Might Win: Murray will obviously be missed, but Richt has fared well when a backup makes his starting debut, winning all three times in those instances. The Dawgs can also take solace in the fact that RB Todd Gurley is healthy. Gurley is not only an effective runner, but he's been productive out of the backfield as well. Georgia's defensive strength is stopping the run, which bodes well against this week's opponent. It ranks third in the SEC, while yielding just 3.6 yards per carry.

Why Georgia Tech Might Win: Not facing Murray, one of the all-time great SEC quarterbacks is a huge benefit to the Yellow Jackets. Their defense has had ups-and-downs this season, but it's generally been very solid against the run, allowing 3.4 yards per carry and ranking No. 2 in the ACC. If stalwart linemen Jeremiah Attaochu, Adam Gotsis and Euclid Cummings can meet Gurley near the line of scrimmage, it's going to put pressure on Mason to do more than just manage the game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Who To Watch Out For: The Dawgs want to get a push on defense before Tech QB Vad Lee can make a successful pitch as the pivot of the triple-option. Ends Ray Drew and Garrison Smith and linebackers Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and Ramik Wilson have all shown a penchant for getting upfield and making plays behind the line.

- Georgia Tech will need to tighten up in pass defense if it's going to take advantage of not having to face Murray. The Jackets are next to last in the ACC in pass defense, completion percentage and yards per attempt, with versatile Jemea Thomas being the only consistent performer.

- The good news for Mason is that his corps of receivers is getting healthier. Chris Conley and Michael Bennett are shaking off what's left of their rust, and TE Arthur Lynch has been a steady performer near the end zone all season.

What Will Happen: This is Georgia Tech's best chance in a while to conquer its rival from Athens. It'll still fall short. The Dawgs are in the Yellow Jackets' heads, an advantage that transcends specific personnel. Georgia will find a way to maintain its dominance, leaning a little harder on Gurley, who has the broad shoulders to carry his teammates to a victory.

Prediction: Georgia 34 … Georgia Tech 28
Line: Georgia -3.5 – O/U: 57.5
Must See Rating: (5 Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight – 1 I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding) … 3.5
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