2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl - Georgia vs. Va Tech

Posted Dec 14, 2006

2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl Preview & Prediction - Georgia vs. Virginia Tech

Georgia (8-4) vs. Virginia Tech (10-2)

Dec. 30, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Get Tickets for the Chick-fil-A Bowl | Get more picks for this game

Chick-fil-A Bowl Player Profile: Georgia DE Charles Johnson, team bowl history and more

If you're into 45-42 shootouts with 1,000 yards of total offense and the last team with the ball getting the win in an up-and-down the field, basketball on grass thriller, well, there are always other bowl games.

This should be the not-so-classic case of fantastic defenses and inept offenses as Georgia is ninth in the nation in total defense allowing just 264 yards and 17 points per game, but the offense has been inconsistent all season long finishing tenth in the SEC. Virginia Tech comes in to the don't-call-it-Peach-Chick-fil-A Bowl with the nation's number one defense allowing a mere 221 yards and nine points per game, but the offense finished 95th in the country.

Talk about flying under the radar, all the Hokies did was hold nine teams to ten or fewer points, but can anyone name a Tech defender? After this game, many might finally know who Vince Hall, Xavier Adibi, and Chris Ellis are. Georgia's D didn't get a whole lot of pub, either, but ends Chares Jonson and Quentin Moses have received a little bit of national recognition.

National Rankings
Virginia Tech Georgia
Total Offense
95th  304 ypg 77th  321.08 ypg
Total Defense
1st  221.08 ypg 9th  264 ypg
Scoring Offense
47th  26 ppg 55th  24.67 ppg
Scoring Defense
1st  9.33 ppg 21st  17.08 ppg
Run Offense
84th  119.33 ypg 62nd  132.08 ypg
Run Defense
14th  92.92 ypg 31st  113.75 ypg
Pass Offense
78th  184.67 ypg 69th  189 ypg
Pass Defense
1st  128.17 ypg 5th  150.25 ypg
Turnover Margin
25th  0.58 79th  -0.33
Virginia Tech
Neastern W 38-0
at N Car. W 35-10
Duke W 36-0
Cincinnati W 29-13
Ga Tech
L 38-27
at Boston Coll L 22-3
So. Miss W 36-6
Clemson W 24-7
at Miami W 17-10
Kent State W 23-0
at W. Forest W 27-6
Virginia W 17-0
W Kentucky W 48-12
at S. Carolina W 18-0
UAB W 34-0
Colorado W 14-13
at Ole Miss W 14-9
Tennessee L 51-33
L 24-22
Miss State W 27-24
vs. Florida L 21-14
at Kentucky
L 24-20
at Auburn W 37-15
Ga Tech
W 15-12
Position Ratings
relative to each other
VT 5 highest
1 lowest
3 Quarterbacks 3
4 RBs 4
4 Receivers 2
3 O Line 4
4 D Line 4
5 Linebackers 4
5 Secondary 5
4.5 Spec Teams 3.5
5 Coaching 5

In an expected rebuilding year of sorts for the Dawgs after winning the 2005 SEC title, they went through the lumps of playing a very talented true freshman, Matthew Stafford, at quarterback, struggled to find some steady semblance of a running game, and got next to nothing out of its receivers.

The defense was the star in a 5-0 start allowing just 34 points, and then the roof caved in as Tennessee opened things up in a wild second half to win 51-33. A 24-22 loss to Vanderbilt the week after effectively ended Georgia's hope to repeat as the SEC champion, with losses to Florida and Kentucky as part of a slide of four defeats in five weeks, putting a nail in the coffin. But just as the Dawgs were left for dead, they ruined Auburn's national title hopes with a dominant 37-15 road win, and found a way to come back to beat Georgia Tech 15-12 to prove the team wasn't so bad after all. Things should be better next year, so this game could be a springboard.

Virginia Tech might have been the quietest 10-2 team in the nation with the biggest impression left in a nationally televised 22-3 meltdown against Boston College coming off a 38-27 loss to Georgia Tech. Everyone calmed down, the defense took over, the the Hokies became one of the nation's best teams over the second half of the season going 6-0 with wins over teams like Clemson, Miami, Southern Miss, and ACC champion Wake Forest, by a combined score of 144 to 23. A win would make it two straight 11-win seasons and 32 victories in the last three years.

The Hokie formula has been simple: run Branden Ore as much as possible, run him some more, and then give him the ball. When he dropped after suffering a high ankle sprain, the offense relied on a bit more overall help, and the confident defense that could suddenly do no wrong.

Each team has a chip on its shoulder with Georgia, traditionally one of the best bowl teams around under head coach Mark Richt, looking to erase memories of last year's Sugar Bowl loss to West Virginia, while Virginia Tech is hoping to finally start getting some more national respect.

No matter what happens, the Peach, er, Chick-fil-A Bowl could use a little bit of luck with its last four games among the worst of the respective bowl seasons hitting rock-bottom last year with LSU's 40-3 win over Miami. After spending years as one of the tightest bowls, there's only been one game in the last seven decided by less than a touchdown. Each team would be happy to just get a touchdown in this one.

Players to watch: Vince Hall not getting more All-America recognition was one of the biggest gaffes of the season. With 227 tackles in the last two years, and after leading the ACC in stops, he should've received more recognition. Not just a run stopped, he's a sideline-to-sideline playmaker who's equally adept at getting to the quarterback as he is dropping into coverage. Hall's running mate, Xavier Adibi, is faster and is great at helping to clean things up. These two are why the Hokie D finished number one in the nation.

Georgia's stars, end Quentin Moses and Charles Johnson, didn't quite blow up quarterbacks like they were supposed to combining for 11 sacks, but they were good at getting into the backfield with Johnson outplaying the more celebrated Moses throughout the year. Bigger than Moses, he relies on his bulk more than Moses, who's more of a speed rusher when he gets going. The two should feast on Tech QB Sean Glennon, who hasn't always enjoyed the best protection.

While Glennon stepped up his play when he had to, going from a liability to efficient, the offense needs Branden Ore to return to form. A nice mix of quickness and power, the sophomore's main issue is staying healthy coming into the season with a shoulder problem and fighting through the current ankle injury. He was one of the ACC's best runners throughout the year scoring 14 touchdowns, with a score in every game but the loss to Boston College, before he was knocked out. Over a two game stretch against Southern Miss and Clemson, he gained 410 yards with four touchdowns. Freshman Kenny Lewis, who was effective when Ore was out, likely won't see much time.

Georgia's offense appears ready to sink or swim over the next few years with Matthew Stafford. He has the NFL tools, and he has the prototype look, and now he has experience. Interceptions were the big problem throwing eight in a critical three-game stretch, but he calmed down over the final two games to complete 30 of 49 passes with two scores and no picks. It's no coincidence the Dawgs won those games. He'll be under as much defensive pressure as he's seen all season long and needs to be sharp and quick with his decisions.

Georgia will win if... the running game works. If Georgia is going to pick its poison against the Virginia Tech D, it'll take on the run defense. The Dawg receivers aren't good enough to do much of anything against the nation's number one pass defense, but there are enough options in the backfield to mix things up and show the Hokies several different looks. Turnovers have been a major issue all season long for Georgia, but Virginia Tech likely can't win if it has to deal with long field after long field; it needs mistakes to capitalize on. There's no need for Stafford, or anyone, to panic. They have to eat the ball when necessary and play as conservatively as possible. The Hokies feast off offenses that get out of their gameplans.

Virginia Tech will win if... it gets the ground game going and it protects Glennon. In other words, the offensive line has to show up. The Hokies are 7-0 this year when the net 100 rushing yards, and part of the stat comes from sacks. Glennon is not the type of quarterback who'll make magic happen when under pressure prone to come up with complete clunkers from time to time. Georgia's defense isn't gong to give up 200 rushing yards, it hasn't all season, but Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech were all able to run relatively well over the final month. If the Hokie O line is getting shoved around, the offense is going to be stuck in the mud.

What will happen: Who's defense is better? It might be as simple as the first team to get up wins. Virginia Tech does more of the little things well, and Georgia's normal advantage from its kick returners should be negated by the Hokie special teams. Glennon will be efficient, if not sensational, and the Tech D will do the rest keeping Georgia to around 250 yards, while the offense will get four big field goals from Brandon Pace to come away with a tough win.

Line: Virginia Tech -3 ... CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 19 .. Georgia 10

Get Tickets for the Chick-fil-A Bowl | Get more picks for this game

Chick-fil-A Bowl Player Profile: Georgia DE Charles Johnson, team bowl history and more