Ole Miss beat reporter Parrish Alford breaks down today’s Music City Bowl matchup.
Where: LP Field (67,000), Nashville
Radio: Ole Miss Network
Records: Ole Miss 7-5, 3-5 SEC; Georgia Tech 7-5, 5-3 ACC
Series: Georgia Tech leads 2-1. The teams last played in the 1971 Peach Bowl, a 41-18 Ole Miss win.
Coaches: Georgia Tech – Paul Johnson 47-31, sixth season at Tech, 154-70 16 years overall. Ole Miss – Hugh Freeze, 44-18, fifth season overall; 14-11 second season at Ole Miss.
Statistical Leaders: Georgia Tech – RB David Sims 151-846 11 TD. QB Vad Lee 77-for-163 passing, 1,414 yards, 10 TD, 9 INT. RB Robert Godhigh 21 catches, 420 yards, 2 TD. DB Jemea Thomas 73 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 10 passes defended. Ole Miss – RB I’Tavius Mathers 82-505, 3 TD. QB Bo Wallace 261-405 passing, 2,090 yards, 17 TD, 9 INT. WR Laquon Treadwell 67 catches, 557 yards, 5 TD. LB Serderius Bryant 70 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 3 sacks; DB Cody Prewitt 70 tackles, 6 interceptions.
Trends: The Rebels lost their last two regular season games. … The Rebels’ 176 rushing yards against LSU were their most in their final seven SEC games.
Notes: Georgia Tech is appearing in its 17th consecutive bowl game, the second-longest active streak. … Georgia Tech, Ohio State and Wisconsin are the only teams to rank in the national top 10 in both rushing offense and rushing defense. The Yellow Jackets rank sixth in rush offense, ninth in rush defense. … Tech A-back Robert Godhigh, a former walk-on, is this season’s recipient of the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award which is presented to the league’s most courageous player. In spite of three surgeries in the 2013 calendar year, Godhigh has managed 694 rushing yards, 420 receiving yards, six rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns. … Ole Miss is 9-1 in its last 10 bowl games. … The loss in that span was 49-38 here in the 2000 Music City Bowl. … Ole Miss is the designated road team for the game. … This is the Rebels’ 35th bowl appearance, tying for 19th in the NCAA. … Quarterback Bo Wallace needs 214 total yards to set a school record for yards in a season.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 27, Ole Miss 24
Here’s the logic on the prediction. Ole Miss hasn’t been a strong rushing team against the best teams on its schedule. The Rebels will not only be minus one of their best offensive linemen, Laremy Tunsil, but will be one mishap away from having to rely on two reserves, Ben Still and Robert Conyers, who played very little against the SEC. Jeff Scott hasn’t impacted a game in a while, but his sudden absence for family reasons when he appeared healthy doesn’t help. Scott has not been ruled out but is not expected to play.
Georgia Tech is giving up only 107 rushing yards a game. There’s a good argument about playing in the ACC vs. the SEC, but the numbers are impressive.
The Rebels will overcome the absence of Ja-Mes Logan more easily than they will the absence of Tunsil. How much they’ll get from Vince Sanders (ankle) is also unclear. This could be a day that a guy like Quincy Adeboyejo has a big game.
I’m thinking the Rebels hold their own against the Georgia Tech option. The extra prep time plus Dave Wommack’s history with Paul Johnson will help. However, in four of Tech’s five losses, the opponent’s offense had a big day. Except for Virginia Tech — which held the Georgians to 129 rushing yards and won 17-10 — each opposing offense scored at least 38 points. Three of those remaining opponents rushed for at least 173 yards. Georgia rushed for 138 and defeated Tech 41-34 in overtime.
It seems like a day that the offense will need to excel, and we just haven’t seen that in a while from Ole Miss.