Music City Bowl breakdown: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Ole Miss Rebels
Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Ole Miss (7-5)
Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
• Reason to watch: Both teams venture to Nashville for their first meeting in 42 years hoping to shake off heartbreaking losses. The Yellow Jackets blew a 20-point lead against Georgia on Nov. 30 and allowed the Aaron Murray-less Bulldogs to win in double-overtime, 41-34. On Thanksgiving, Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace fumbled the ball in the end zone on his team’s final possession of overtime against rival Mississippi State. The Bulldogs recovered to halt Ole Miss’ shot at tying the game. Both offenses score at least 30 points per game, but function according to different philosophies: coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option scheme at Georgia Tech boasts the country’s sixth-best rushing attack (311.7 yards per game); The Rebels, meanwhile, have the nation’s 24th-ranked passing offense behind Wallace and receivers Donte Moncrief and Laquan Treadwell (285.6 pass yards per game). This one has the makings of a shootout.
• Keep an eye on: Yellow Jackets defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu. The 6-foot-3, 242-pound senior has been a menace for Tech’s pass-rush during the second half of the season, — 10 of his 12 sacks came in the Yellow Jackets’ final five games. He threw down Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason four times in Georgia Tech’s loss to the Bulldogs, and he needs only half a sack to become the school’s all-time leader in that category. Ole Miss might struggle running the ball against the Yellow Jackets, who boast the country’s ninth-ranked run defense. It will be a long day for the Rebels if Wallace can’t handle Attaochu and Tech’s pass rush.
• Did you know? Georgia Tech’s appearance in the Music City Bowl marks the Ramblin’ Wreck’s 17th straight bowl game, the second-longest active streak in the country.
• Final analysis: The plan is simple for Ole Miss: Stop the run. Georgia Tech attempts only 15.5 passes per game. But tailback Robert Godhigh (10.1 yards per carry) and quarterback Vad Lee might be too much to handle for the Rebels’ mediocre run defense. Also, Wallace has been out of sync of late for Ole Miss; he’s thrown four interceptions without a touchdown in his last two games, both losses.
• The pick: Georgia Tech 35, Ole Miss 24