For people who like smash-mouth, physical style of football, the 2014 Orange Bowl between No.12 Georgia Tech and No.7 Mississippi State is just for you.
This game should be a high impact, heavy collision game, that you are going to be happy to have stereo surround sound for so you can hear the helmets and shoulder pads smacking.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The trenches are going to have battles for both teams. Shaq Mason and the Georgia Tech offensive line versus against Preston Smith, Chris Jones and the Mississippi State defensive line is going to be a slugfest.
Shaq Mason comes into this game as one of the most decorated offensive lineman in the country after being named All-ACC Second-Team by the media and coaches, as well as a Second-Team All-American by the Football Writers Association.
The Georgia Tech offensive line helped plow their opposition to the tune of 333.6 rushing yards per contest, third best in the FBS.
They are going to be tussling with an MSU defensive line that allowed 126.5 yards per contest which was 24th best in the nation.
Fortunately, Georgia Tech very seldom drops back to pass because Mississippi State is adept at getting to the quarterback at a high rate as well as stuffing the run.
The MSU D-Line finished with 24.5 sacks on the year. Preston Smith led the Bulldogs with 9.5 sacks on the year along with 14.5 tackles for loss.
The defensive line as a whole had 36 tackles for loss and 58 quarterback hurries.
Paul Johnson is going to do everything in his power to soften that defensive line up with his B-backs Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days. That should be the main source of the collisions out of the Georgia Tech backfield.
Laskey and Days combined for 1,434 yards and 11 touchdowns out of the B-back position this season while giving linebackers a pounding in the process.
If Johnson can figure out how to get Laskey and Days through the MSU defensive line and the B-backs don’t commit any turnovers, Tech can control the flow of the game and be in business.
But it is not like Mississippi State’s offensive line does not put in work. They helped block for a balanced attack that opened up holes for Josh Robinson, and protected Dak Prescott to where the Bulldogs had the ninth ranked offense in the nation overall.
MSU’s was 20th nationally in rushing averaging 239.8 yards per game. Robinson carried the ball 177 times for 1,128 yards and 11 touchdowns averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
The MSU offense also tossed the ball downfield to the tune of 266.3 yards per contest with Prescott finishing with 2,996 yards passing and 24 touchdowns. He also ran for 939 yards and 13 TDs.
Tech as a team had 20 sacks on the year managing to figure out ways to create pressure and turnovers all season long.
The Yellow Jackets defense was second in the nation with six defensive touchdowns this season.
Georgia Tech’s linebackers made a lot of tackles this season. Paul Davis, who was snubbed beyond belief in a lot of these postseason list, led the Jackets with 108 tackles, 75 of which were solo.
Quayshawn Nealy was big this season with 90 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
KeShun Freeman from the defensive end position also made plays as well as Adam Gotsis in the defensive line.
These guys are going to be the main people, with some help from others such as Isaiah Johnson, to stuff the run in this ball game.
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This defense has been good about swarming to the football for the most part, but for this game they are going to really have to make it a point to bring the wood when they tackle and finish the plays.
This sets up to be a physical and exciting matchup on New Year’s Eve.
Though Georgia Tech leads this series historically 4-0, this promises to be a slugfest and truthfully is anybody’s game.
The Orange Bowl will be televised on ESPN at 8PM EST.