Time for a little did you know on the ACC championship game between No. 13 Florida State and Georgia Tech. Special thanks to the sports information staffs at both schools and the ACC, and ESPN Stats & Information for these notes.
Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel has significantly improved his deep ball in 2012, increasing his completion percentage on throws of 20 yards or longer by 18.5 percentage points since the start of the 2010 season. Manuel has nine more completions on throws of 20 yards or longer in 2012 (29) than he did in his previous two seasons combined (20), including at least one such completion in every game this season.
Manuel has completed at least five passes thrown 20 yards or longer to four different players (Kenny Shaw, Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad Greene, Rodney Smith) this season, with all four players catching at least one touchdown.
Florida State has forced the most three-and-out drives in FBS this season (61). The Seminoles are the only team to force at least three three-and-out drives in every game this season. The Seminoles are facing a Georgia Tech offense that has 19 three-and-out drives all season, the fewest in the ACC and tied for the ninth fewest in FBS.
The Yellow Jackets lead all schools from AQ conferences with 1,528 yards after contact, which amounts to 39.4 percent of their rushing yards. Florida State has given up just 650 yards after contact, fourth fewest amongst AQ schools. Florida State will have to improve its tackling in order to limit Georgia Tech after contact. Last week, the Seminoles missed a season-high 14 tackles against Florida to bring their season total to 86, which ranks 36th out of 68 schools in AQ conferences.
Georgia Tech runs the ball on 80.5 percent of its plays, the fifth-highest percentage in FBS. The Yellow Jackets average 5.6 yards per rush and gain a first down on 28.6 percent of their rushes (eighth in FBS). On the other side of the ball, Florida State is one of the toughest run defenses in the nation. Seminoles opponents are averaging 2.7 yards per rush and gain a first down on 15.8 percent of their rushes (3rd in FBS).
Florida State is attempting to claim its 13th ACC football championship this weekend, but its first since the inaugural ACC championship game in 2005. Georgia Tech is looking for its third ACC football title, and its first since sharing the title with Florida State in 1998. Tech did defeat Clemson 39-34 in the 2009 ACC title game, but the win was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions. Tech’s only outright crown came in 1990, the year the Jackets were also UPI national champions.
Georgia Tech kick returner Jamal Golden ranks 10th nationally in kickoff return average (29 ypr) and has twice returned kickoffs for touchdowns. Those are the first kickoff returns for touchdowns for the Jackets in 14 years.
Georgia Tech averaged a school-record 40 points per game this year in its eight ACC contests.