NCAA Football

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl Preview: Georgia Tech vs. Air Force

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Georgia Tech vs. Air Force

Monday, December 27, 2010 5:00 PM ET ESPN2

Laying the scene

Four Yellow Jackets will not play in the bowl due to academic issues, while three Yellow Jackets will sit out the first half after missing curfew. Starting safety Mario Edwards and starting wide receiver Stephen Hill, along with reserve outside linebacker Anthony Barnes and reserve defensive end Robert Hall, will not play in the bowl. Starting outside linebacker Anthony Egbuniwe and reserve defensive backs Michael Peterson and Louis Young will sit out the first half. What's more, quarterback Josh Nesbitt is not expected to play after breaking his arm in the November 4 contest against Virginia Tech.

Keeping in mind that Tevin Washington has played well since taking over the starting job for the final three games of the season, the suspensions and key injury could tip the scale in Air Force's favor if it wasn't already leaning that way before. The Yellow Jackets rank first in rushing offense, averaging 327 yards per game, and Air Force ranks second, averaging 317.9 yards per game. Georgia Tech has won all three times these teams have met, although the last time the two played was in 1979.

What Air Force has to do to win

Stay on assignment. The Falcons defense has let up 22.3 yards per game this season and has allowed more than 30 points only once as TCU scored 38 points in the October loss to the Horned Frogs. The Yellow Jackets will make the fourth top 10 rushing offense that the Falcons have faced this season, having let up 209 yards to Navy (6th), 377 yards to TCU (7th) and 244 yards to Army (10th) this season. The Falcons rank 100th in rushing defense this season, but if they manage to play Georgia Tech like they played Navy, whom they held to six points with zero touchdowns, they'll be in good shape. In the Orange Bowl last season, Iowa's disciplined defense stayed on task and was able to hold the Georgia Tech rushing attack to 143 yards and just 14 points.rds.

What Georgia Tech has to do to win 

The Yellow Jackets followed their ACC Championship season with a 6-6 overall record and 4-4 in the ACC, good for fourth in the Coastal Division. Part of that may be due to the drop in points scored per game. In 2009, the Yellow Jackets averaged 33.8 points per game. This season, they average about a touchdown less at 27.6. The Air Force offense doesn't average 40 points per game (they average 32.3 points per game), but getting on the scoreboard early will be important, as the pace of the game may not leave much time to come back from multiple scores.

The call

Air Force. Both teams are very similar on offense, so the keys outlined above could apply to either school. The Falcons have struggled against the nation's better teams, losing all four of their games to teams playing in bowl games and with three of their losses coming to teams who were in the top ten when they played. Fortunately, however, Georgia Tech is not one of the nation's better teams. Air Force went 3-3 in the second half of the season, following a three-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak down the stretch, while Georgia Tech has lost four of its last five. Not everything has to be complicated: whichever team utilizes their full range of talent to run the ball more effectively and whose defense keeps the opposition out of the end zone early will win this game that begins at 5:00 PM ET and could be over before the sun sets on the East coast. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

Email Danny at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at DannyHobrock