Shreveport, Louisiana – Independence Stadium
Air Force Falcons
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
If you are a fan of triple option football with little to no passing, then this is the bowl game for you. Georgia Tech ranks 1st in the nation in rushing offense with Air Force right behind them in 2nd. Both teams are near the bottom in passing offense with Air Force ranked 117th and Georgia Tech ranking 119th.
Air Force had a season that could have been expected finishing at 8-4 and tied for third in the Mountain West. The Falcons gave Oklahoma and Utah all they could handle this season and weren’t far off from being serious players in the conference. Air Force will be making their fourth straight appearance in a bowl game.
Georgia Tech had a really disappointing season. After winning the ACC last season, the Yellow Jackets regressed to 6-6 and finished in a tie for third place in the Coastal Division. Georgia Tech got off to a rocky start with an early season shocking loss to Kansas and it didn’t get much better from there. Georgia Tech had BCS aspirations in the preseason, but they’ll have to settle for a lower tier bowl game against a non-AQ opponent.
- Air Force: The Falcons offense goes as QB Tim Jefferson goes. Jefferson threw for 1342 yards this season with 10 touchdowns through the air while accumulating 769 yards on the ground with 15 rushing touchdowns. Air Force will throw the ball more than Georgia Tech does and Jefferson threw 30 passes against San Diego State earlier in the season, so don’t be surprised to see the Falcons air it out a bit if the Yellow Jackets have success in stopping their running game.
- Georgia Tech: With Joshua Nesbitt out for the bowl game, Georgia Tech will turn over the reigns of the offense to sophomore QB Tevin Washington. Washington started the final three games of the season with Nesbitt out with the arm injury and the Yellow Jackets went 1-2 with losses to Miami and Georgia and a win over Duke in between. Washington isn’t as established in the triple option as Nesbitt, but he has shown improvement over the three games he started and his play will play a huge role in Georgia Tech’s success or failure in the Independence Bowl.
KEY POSITIONAL BATTLE
The key for both teams will be how they defend the triple option. The triple option is an offense that both teams are familiar with having played against it every day in practice. We should see a good bit of points scored in this game, with neither defense defending the run very well. The Yellow Jackets rank 79th in rushing defense with the Falcons coming in ranked 100th against the run. This game will likely come down to which team is able to defend the option the best and slow down the opposing running game. Neither team is going to win this game through the air and neither team wants to have to depend on their quarterbacks arm to come away with a victory. Both teams will live or die by how they run the football.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Passing: In a game that will be dominated by the run, it could come down to which team is able to have the most success passing the ball. In order to have success running the triple option, you have to open up the defense with a pass or two here and there. Air Force has had the most success passing of the two teams, but that’s not saying much with the Falcons ranking 117th in passing offense. Obviously, both teams are going to know the opposing team’s game plans, so each will have to do something different to mix things up. If one of these teams is able to have a little success through the air, then it will open up their running game even more.
This is another game that is a tossup. These teams are eerily similar in offensive philosophy. They both run the triple option offense and will pound the ball for sixty-minutes. This game pits the #1 ranked rushing offense against the #2 ranked rushing offense. Air Force may have the better defensive unit of the two, but that is mainly due to their 5th ranked passing defense, which will not help them against the Yellow Jackets. Air Force’s problem this season has been stopping the run. They rank 100th in the nation in rushing defense and that’s not comforting news when you are playing the top ranked rushing offense. Georgia Tech hasn’t been a whole lot better, but they have been some better. In a game that will likely come down to the final few minutes, I like Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech to come out on top.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 24, Air Force 21