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Peach Bowl Preview
by Matt Fargo - 12/27/2008
The Betting Numbers
Georgia Tech opened as a 3.5-point favorite at most shops with a scattering of a few at -4 as well as a couple at -2.5. Right away, there was a perfect middling opportunity for those who were able get those numbers. The number has now settled in between -4 to -4.5 and there has been very little movement over the last two weeks. We could see this number increase as we get closer to kickoff. There has been a lot of recent movement in the total however as the opening number of 49 and 50 stayed put for a while but has gone up to as much as 53 in some outlets over the last week.
This is the 19th meeting between LSU and Georgia Tech but the first since the 2000 Peach Bowl (renamed Chick-Fil-A Bowl) and just the second meeting since 1964.
LSU is near the top of the list for disappointing teams in 2008. The defending National Champions were pegged 7th in the preseason AP poll and after a 4-0 start saw them reach the 3rd spot in the rankings. However, a blowout loss at Florida by 30 points sent the Tigers in a downward spiral as that was the beginning of a string of five losses in their last eight games. Back-to-back losses to end the season against Mississippi and Arkansas provide no momentum heading into this bowl game. This is the 40th bowl appearance for the Tigers and they have won nine of their last 11, going 8-3 ATS in those games.
While LSU had a disappointing season, the opposite can be said of the Yellow Jackets. Picked to finish in the bottom half of the ACC Coastal by many, they ended up tied with Virginia Tech for the co-division championship. Georgia Tech was not ranked in the preseason and didnâ€™t even receive any votes but after a week seven win over Clemson, the Yellow Jackets cracked the top 25 and ended the season ranked 14th following an upset win over Georgia. This will be the 37th bowl game for Georgia Tech and it will look to snap a three-game bowl losing streak. Its last six bowl games have gone â€˜overâ€™.
Against the Numbers
It is no surprise that the disappointing season for LSU led to disappointing returns at the window. The Tigers went a dismal 2-9 ATS which was tied for 4th worst in the nation. The Tigers have dropped six straight against the number and for the season, it is 0-2 in the role of underdog. The only consolation could be that LSU went 2-2 away from home after losing all seven games against the number at Tiger Stadium. The defense did not live up to expectations and that led to seven of 11 games going â€˜overâ€™.
It was just the opposite for Georgia Tech backers who cashed tickets in seven of its 10 lined games that also included a push. The Yellow Jackets started the season 5-0 ATS in their first five games before slowing down but they did grab the cash in their last two games. Georgia Tech went 4-1-1 ATS as a chalk including a 3-0-1 ATS mark when favored by less than two touchdowns. Six of the 10 games went â€˜underâ€™ including four of five away from home and this will be the first total that will see 50 points this season.
As mentioned, the Tigers defense came up very small this season. After finishing third in total defense in their National Championship season last year, LSU plummeted to 36th this season. That ranking would seem good to some but not from this program. Even worse was that LSU allowed 25.9 ppg which was 65th in the nation and it allowed 31 or more points five times including 31 points exactly in each of its last three games. The offense was average, ranked 54th overall and because of that, it was unable to outscore opponents when needed.
Georgia Tech implemented the spread option under newly hired head coach Paul Johnson and it obviously worked. The Yellow Jackets finished 3rd in the country in rushing offense but it was inconsistent scoring that hurt the unit. Georgia Tech put up 31 or more points five times but scored 19 or fewer points five times as well. On the other side, the defense started strong but finished with a whimper. The Jackets were 5th overall and in scoring defense through week eight but they allowed 29 ppg and 394 ypg over their last five games to finish 22nd in both categories.
This game is in the Georgia Dome where the Yellow Jackets campus is located a mere two miles away. The proximity seemed to have helped South Florida when it played just 15 miles away from its campus in the St. Petersburg Bowl (41-14 win)â€¦Georgia Tech could be one of the most competitive teams around as it trailed by more than seven points for less than 28 of the 720 minutes played this seasonâ€¦The Yellow Jackets are 0-3 all-time in the Peach/Chick-Fil-A Bowlâ€¦LSU has the SECâ€™s best redzone offense, scoring on 38 of 41 trips inside the 20, including 30 touchdowns.