ACC Football Pick Em': Championship Game Edition

By Ryan McCart

For those of you that follow my weekly picks you will notice that this week’s picks, or I should say pick, will be a little bit different. After all this is the week of the ACC Championship Game between Georgia Tech and Florida State. So instead of a bunch of quick picks this will be a much more in depth preview.

I went 6-2 with my picks last week, bringing my record for the year to 76-23 (.767 winning percentage), but no one cares about my winning percentage when a berth to the Orange Bowl at stake.

So let’s get to the pick!

Georgia Tech vs. Florida State

It has been a strange week for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are 6-6 so if they lose to FSU then they will have a losing record for the season. Normally, that would mean that they wouldn’t be eligible to go to a bowl. So it looked like it would be literally BCS-or-bust for the Jackets but the NCAA granted Tech a waiver, so even if they lose they will still go bowling (the same was done for UCLA last year). However, that good news was followed by some bad news, as leading rusher Orwin Smith has been listed as doubtful for the game.

It is a blow to Tech’s offense but it isn’t a death sentence. The most important player in the triple option offense is the quarterback, as he is the one that makes the decision as to where the ball goes, and the Yellow Jackets have two very good quarterbacks in Tevin Washington and Vlad Lee. Washington is the upperclassman with tons of experience, while Lee is the future of this offense. If Georgia Tech is to win this game then I think that Washington needs to have a big game. The senior has run for 18 touchdowns and thrown for another seven this season.

The offense will have to score on FSU’s vaunted defense, but the bigger challenge will be for Tech’s defense to keep the Seminoles out of the end zone. The Yellow Jacket’s defense is atrocious and it led to the dismissal of defensive coordinator Al Groh in the middle of the season. Tech is ranked 86th in the nation in scoring defense giving up an average of 30.7 points per game. That is not a good matchup, considering that Florida State is one of the best scoring offenses in the country. If the Yellow Jackets can somehow hold FSU under 30 points then they have a chance, but that’s a huge task in itself.

Florida State is in a different situation. The Seminoles are currently ranked number 13 in the BCS standings, and this is where Jimbo Fisher expected his team to be at the end of the season. FSU had a solid season but had a couple of hiccups along the way. Fans desperately want to see the team from Tallahassee to play for National Championships again, but this year they will have to settle for trying to win the ACC. If they lose this game then the season will be considered a failure but I just don’t see that happening.

Florida State is a much better team in all three phases of the game. Their defense and offense both rank near the top of the nation and they are liable for a big kick return at any time. E.J. Manuel is the second best quarterback in the ACC (behind Tajh Boyd) and he has some big weapons around him. James Wilder Jr. is a bruising back that will break tackles and punish anyone that tries to take him down. Wilder is complimented by Devonta Freeman and if you put their stats together they have accounted for over 1,000 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Manuel also has some speedsters on the outside in Rashad Greene and Kelvin Benjamin who can break a big play at any time. They will be just too much for Georgia Tech.

The Florida Gators await the winner of this game in the Orange Bowl and I think that Florida State will get their second chance this season to beat their in-state rival. Florida State is just a match-up nightmare for Georgia Tech and I just don’t think the Yellow Jackets will be able to keep up.

Pick: FSU over GT

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