ACC Championship: Seminoles vs. Yellow Jackets
The No. 13-ranked Seminoles fell short of a National Championship and suffered a bitter disappointment at the hands of their in-state rival the Florida Gators last weekend. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were similarly humiliated by their in-state rivals the Georgia Bulldogs, though for them, a spot in the ACC Championship game has to be considered a huge victory. However, Georgia Tech’s spot in the game is a hollow one; the Miami Hurricanes would have been in if not for a self-imposed ban.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “They had a great rivalry game and we did too. You’ve got to be able to put it behind you quickly and go on. I think that is going to be a big factor, I don’t think there’s any doubt.”
The Yellow Jackets have played pretty terribly defensively this season and will need to lock it down if they hope to even have a prayer in this game. The team is deflated after the thumping they took from Georgia, but then again, the Seminoles aren’t exactly riding high either: not only did Florida State just lose to the Gators, but they have also lost their best defensive player, Tank Carradine, to injury.
“You never know. You hope that we’ll bounce back,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “We’ve got another great opportunity. I’m sure Florida State is fighting some of the same thing today following their game against Florida. It’s unfortunate it happened like that, but we’ll do the best we can to move on.”
The Yellow Jackets should absolutely have their hands full this weekend as Seminoles’ quarterback E.J. Manuel looks to bounce back from a terrible game against Florida in which he threw three interceptions. Georgia Tech’s defense can easily be had, and even their own head coach knows it. The Yellow Jackets’ three game winning streak had little to do with its defense: they scored 33, 68 and 42 points in their three games before being soundly beaten by Georgia 42-10.
“We haven’t played very well defensively,” Johnson said. “There’s no secret about that. The last game was probably as bad as we’ve played all year against Georgia, and they had a lot to do with that. They’re a very good football team… I think we were able to outscore people, honestly, if you want to know the truth. The last four games we got far enough out in front of people and scored enough points to secure the games.”
The Yellow Jackets are 6-6 overall and 5-3 in the ACC, not exactly an impressive record but good enough to make it to the title game. They know they wouldn’t be there if Miami hadn’t backed out, but they will take what they can get. “You know, that’s something that Miami decided to do,” Johnson said. “We had no control over it. The only thing we had control over was we were 5-3 in our division. It’s not the first time a 5-3 team has gone to the championship game.”
If GT loses this game, they won’t even be bowl eligible, so they will come out hungry in this one. With the loss of Carradine, FSU’s defense will be hurting, but still won’t be hurting as bad as the Yellow Jackets’ sorry unit. However, GT has lost five straight to ranked teams, and this Seminoles’ team has a whole season of BCS-related frustration to take out. I don’t think the Seminoles run away with it, but I think they win big and win comfortably. GT’s only hope is to control the clock with the running game and play clean, turnover free football. If not, they will struggle to keep up with FSU’s scoring. Take the Seminoles here.