2007 Humanitarian Bowl - GTech vs. Fresno St
Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater
Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater
Posted Dec 20, 2007

2007 Roady's Humantarian Bowl Preview - Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State

Fresno State (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

Dec. 31, 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

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- 2006 CFN Humanitarian Bowl Preview
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2007 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More

National Rankings
Fresno State Georgia Tech
Total Offense
51st  406.92 ypg 66th  385.42 ypg
Total Defense
77th 409.83 ypg 11th  310.33 ypg
Scoring Offense
33rd  32.25 ppg 68th  26.08 ppg
Scoring Defense
61st  26.92 ppg 17th  19.25 ppg
Run Offense
16th  204.67 ypg 18th  202.50 ypg
Run Defense
86th  182.75 ypg 12th  100.17 ypg
Pass Offense
82nd  202.25 ypg 102nd  182.92 ypg
Pass Defense
59th  227.08 ypg 32nd  210.17 ypg
Turnover Margin
102nd  -0.75 83rd  -0.33
Fresno State
Sac St W 24-3
at Texas A&M L 47-45 3 OT
at Oregon L 52-21
La Tech W 17-6
at Nevada W 49-41
at Idaho W 37-24
SJSU W 30-0
Boise State L 34-21
Utah State W 39-27
at Hawaii L 37-30
Kansas St W 45-29
at NMSU W 30-23
Georgia Tech
at No Dame W 33-3
Samford W 69-14
Boston Coll L 24-10
at Virginia
L 28-23
W 13-3
at Maryland L 28-26
at Miami W 17-14
Army W 34-10
Virginia Tech
L 27-3
at Duke W 41-24
No Carolina
W 27-25
L 31-17
Position Ratings
relative to each other
F 5 highest
1 lowest
3.5 Quarterbacks 3
3 RBs 5
2.5 Receivers 3
3.5 O Line 4
4 D Line 4.5
3.5 Linebackers 4.5
4 Secondary 4
4 Spec Teams 5
3.5 Coaching 3

Well, the good news, Chan Gailey, is that you don’t have to coach the Yellow Jackets in the Humanitarian Bowl.  By going 7-5, Georgia Tech earned the ACC booby prize, a trip across country to play a WAC opponent in chilly Boise.  If the Jackets don’t bother showing up, Fresno State will gladly swipe its second win of the year from a BCS school.    

Gailey was fired by Georgia Tech shortly after a sixth straight loss to Georgia, opening the door for former Navy coach Paul Johnson to take the program in a new direction.  In the interim, defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta will lead the team into Idaho, an audition of sorts for one of the game’s most respected defensive minds.  You want motivation, Yellow Jackets?  Your new boss may not be on the sidelines, but he will be watching, looking for first impressions before spring ball arrives.                      

Tech has an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball, yet went 1-5 against teams playing in the postseason, which summarizes why Gailey is jobless.  While Tenuta’s attacking defense and the Tashard Choice-led running game are top-notch, the passing game was once again abysmal, accounting for a measly two touchdown passes through the first nine games.  The good news was that the attack showed signs of a pulse during the final three games of the regular season.  Starting QB Taylor Bennett may not be the long-term solution in Atlanta, so don’t be surprised to see a lot of true freshman Josh Nesbitt, who could be a nice fit for the offense when Johnson’s on board.    

Despite a bunch of injuries and a slow start, Fresno State rallied to finish the regular season 8-4, a nice rebound for a program that was 4-8 a year ago.  The Bulldogs competed in all but the Oregon game, and won the games they were supposed to, but couldn’t get over the hump against WAC-daddys, Hawaii and Boise State.  For feisty head coach Pat Hill, it was an important bounce back season a year after his team slipped into the unfamiliar role of being irrelevant.  And with 15 starters expected back for 2008, the Humanitarian Bowl could be the perfect springboard for even bigger things next fall.                    

Although Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater played well in the regular season, the catalyst for the offense was a surprising, physical running game that averaged more than 200 yards a game.  The concern is whether any of the team’s bevy of backs will be healthy at kickoff.  Leading rusher Ryan Mathews is out with a muscle tear near his collarbone.  Second-leading rusher Lonyae Miller is recovering from a quadriceps injury.  No. 3 back and team MVP Clifton Smith is still nursing a bruised hip pointer.  Miller and Smith are pointing to a return, but if they can’t go, keep an eye on true freshman Anthony Harding, who had 115 yards and 121 yards rushing in Fresno’s final two games.

Players to watch: Fresno State is hopeful that its most reliable receiver, TE Bear Pascoe, has benefited from a month off to rest his aching ankle.  Before getting hurt, the 6-5, 260-pound junior was tearing it up, highlighted by a seven-catch, three-touchdown effort versus Texas A&M.  If Pascoe is right, Brandstater has a huge target capable of being a mismatch when streaking down the seam of the field.  More than just a high-scoring offense, the Valley is also home to LB Marcus Riley, the WAC Defensive Player of the Year and a notoriously ferocious hitter.  Fresno State’s leader in tackles and tackles for loss, he’s the No. 31 that blew up Hawaii’s Colt Brennan last month.  The Georgia Tech skill position players better know where he is at all times.

Just like the last couple of years, Georgia Tech’s fate rests on the legs of Choice, the ACC’s premier back when he’s healthy.  On a roll at the end of the year, he’ll be especially dangerous on a fresh pair of wheels, particularly against a beatable Fresno State defense that’s soft up front, and allowing 182 yards a game on the ground.  Yellow Jacket DE Michael Johnson is a scary talent, even if this season’s numbers don’t bear it out.  Cut from a similar mold as former Florida Gator Jevon Kearse, the 6-7, 250-pounder is an athletic anomaly with a hot motor and a bounce in his step.  Johnson has just six tackles for loss and four sacks, numbers that will explode next year when Darrell Robertson and Adamm Oliver are in the NFL.  If for nothing else, it’ll be worth spotlighting No. 93 to get a good look at one of next year’s budding stars. 

Fresno State will win if
... it keeps Choice from taking over the game.  Hey, Choice is going to get his yards, but the Bulldogs must prevent him from running for 200 yards, and demoralizing the entire defense.  To be sure, it’s not going to be easy for Fresno State, which faces its toughest test, a Georgia Tech offensive line that has a pair of all-conference blockers, and paved the road for the ACC’s best running game.  If Choice is kept in check, the Yellow Jackets lack the passing game to make up the difference.

Georgia Tech will win if
... the defense plays with a chip on its shoulder.  Tenuta’s Yellow Jackets usually play fast and tough, but it didn’t look that way in November, when they twice allowed more than 400 yards, and failed to pick off a pass.  Tech must intimidate Fresno State, creating turnovers and playing like the unit that leads the nation with 48 sacks.  If players, such as LB Philip Wheeler, DT Vance Walker, and LB Gary Guyton, get upfield pressure and in Brandstater’s face, the Bulldogs are unlikely to respond to the challenge.

What will happen
: If another assistant was coaching the team, Georgia Tech would be even more vulnerable to the upset.  With his next job undetermined, and places like LSU, for instance, looking for a coordinator, Tenuta won’t allow this team to give anything less than a complete effort.  The Yellow Jackets will hold off Fresno State behind a couple of Choice touchdowns, and an inspired effort from the disruptive defense.

Georgia Tech -4 ... CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 31 ... Fresno State