Believe it or not, the 6-6 Georgia Yellow Jackets will have the chance to win the ACC and head to the Orange Bowl if they can defeat the Florida State Seminoles in the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game.
Isn't college football grand?
For Florida State, the dream of a potential trip to the National Championship game was flushed away after last week's lost to Florida (and Notre Dame's win pretty much made that game a moot point anyway).
But the Seminoles still have the opportunity to win the mediocre ACC this year and head to the Orange Bowl. As we'll discuss in the article, that's exactly what college football fans should be hoping happens.
To the preview!
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
When: Saturday, December 1 at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN; WatchESPN
Listen: Sirius 84, 92 and 93
Betting Line: Florida State (-14), according to Bet Online
Florida State Injuries (via USA Today)
QB E.J. Manuel, Head, Probable
DB Justin Bright, Concussion, Questionable
TE Will Tye, Back, Questionable
G Jacob Fahrenkrug, Toe, Questinoable
OL Trey Pettis, Head, Questionable
T Garrett Faircloth, Hip, Questionable
DT Moses McCray, Concussion, Questionable
DT Derrick Mitchell, Back. Questionable
DE Cornellius Carradine, Knee, Out for Season
Georgia Tech Injuries (via USA Today)
OL Ray Beno, Knee, Questionable
RB Orwin Smith, Ankle, Questionable
PK Justin Moore, Undisclosed, Questionable
OL Errin Joe, Undisclosed, Questionable
The ACC Championship and a berth in the Orange Bowl is on the line. Can Florida State earn its first ACC Championship since 2005? Or will Georgia Tech ruin everything for college football fans.
This game has HUGE implications for the BCS picture. If Florida State wins, nothing really changes—the Seminoles reach the Orange Bowl, and possibly play the winner of Thursday's Big East showdown between Louisville and Rutgers.
The Seminoles could also find themselves playing Kent State, but we'll get to that in a moment.
But if Florida State loses, two things happen—the Orange Bowl gets stuck with 7-6 Georgia Tech, and Florida State probably drops outside of the Top 16. That would mean that No. 17 Kent State would jump into the Top 16 with a win in the MAC championship over Northern Illinois, and since the Flashes would be ranked ahead of the Big East champion, would earn an automatic BCS berth.
And since the Orange Bowl has the last at-large selection this year, it would likely get stuck with Kent State. And nothing says "horrific ratings" like a BCS matchup between 7-6 Georgia Tech and mid-major Kent State.
Go Florida State!
Kent State will probably get into the BCS even if Florida State wins. A win over No. 21 Northern Illinois could propel them past idle Oregon State, and if No. 16 UCLA loses in the Pac-12 Championship to Stanford, the Flashes will surely get a BCS berth with a win. An Oklahoma or Nebraska loss would also do the trick more than likely.
You know the Orange Bowl could deal with Florida State versus Kent State. One out of two isn't bad. But if Georgia Tech is in the mix, it will likely be the least anticipated BCS game in history. Sorry, Yellow Jackets fans, but you know it's true.
What They're Saying
Want to know just how rough this season has been for the ACC? Heather Dinich of ESPN has you covered:
So it's come to this in the ACC: If Georgia Tech doesn't beat No. 13 Florida State in the Dr. Pepper ACC championship game on Saturday, it will drop to 6-7 and have to apply to the NCAA for a waiver just to play in a bowl game.
It's BCS or bust for the Yellow Jackets.
That in itself is an indictment of just how lousy this season has been in the ACC.
As Dinich notes, the Yellow Jackets wouldn't even be in this game if Miami hadn't self-imposed a postseason bowl ban. Oh, and North Carolina is ineligible for the postseason as well. All three teams finished 5-3 in the dreadful Coastal Division, but Georgia Tech automatically gets the bid.
If Florida State doesn't win this thing, I'm going to assume there is a higher power that simply really loves Georgia Tech.
Florida State Player to Watch: The Offensive Line
Against Florida, EJ Manuel was sacked eight times and the Seminoles rushed for just 112 yards. Georgia Tech's defensive line may not be in the same galaxy as Florida's talented unit, but the Florida State offensive line must step up if the Seminoles are to toss around the oranges.
The one thing Florida State can't afford is to start slow in this game. There is real danger for a letdown after last week's disappointing lost to Florida, and the last thing the Seminoles need is to allow Georgia Tech to get off to a fast start and start believing they can win.
One way to do that is by failing to protect Manuel, which in turn could lead to turnovers. One way to do that is to fail to establish a running game while Georgia Tech attempts to control the clock when they have the ball.
Florida State's offensive line must control the line of scrimmage and do so early in the game. A failure to do so could lead to more heartbreak for the Seminoles.
Georgia Tech Player to Watch: Tevin Washington, QB
The Yellow Jackets obviously want to establish the running game. It's certainly the team's strong suit, and dominating time of possession will not only wear down the Florida State defense, but it will also keep the team's explosive offense off the field.
But expecting to conquer the Florida State defensive line with a one-dimensional attack is a fool's errand, meaning Tevin Washington is going to have to make plays through the air.
Nobody's expecting the senior quarterback to suddenly turn into Geno Smith—he's only attempted 114 passes this year, after all—but Georgia Tech must make Florida State pay with play-action passes and convert long third-down conversions to maintain drives.
For Georgia Tech to win, Washington likely has to have his finest game of the season. No pressure, Mr. Washington.
Key Matchup: Georgia Tech's Rushing Attack vs. Florida State's Front Seven
Georgia Tech has the third-ranked running game in the country, averaging 323.3 yards per game behind quarterbacks Tevin Washington and Vad Lee and running backs Orwin Smith, Zach Laskey and David Sims.
Florida State allows just 85.1 rushing yards per game, fourth best in the nation. Something has to give.
Seeing as Georgia Tech's defense allows 30.7 points per game and the Seminoles average 41.5 points each week, the Georgia Tech running game must be effective if the Yellow Jackets hope to keep up with Florida State.
Because if Georgia Tech has to turn to its 119th-ranked passing offense, Florida State will roll.
Get out that waiver, Georgia Tech—you aren't beating Florida State. The Seminoles take care of business, 35-17.
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