Dec. 27, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Air Force take by nation blogger Andrea Adelson: The Falcons took home the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time in eight years after beating Navy and Army this season, an incredible achievement considering the stranglehold Navy has had on the service academies. Perhaps even more than that, though, Air Force made headlines this season after jumping out to a 5-1 start and nearly upsetting Oklahoma on the road. Then the tough part of the schedule hit -- with back-to-back-to-back games against San Diego State, TCU and Utah. Still, the Falcons rebounded nicely and are headed to a bowl game against a team that might appear to be a mirror image of them.
But what has made Air Force so successful this season has been quarterback Tim Jefferson. Air Force ranks No. 2 in the nation in rushing and runs a version of the triple option, as all the service academies do. But Jefferson posted career highs for rushing yards (769), rushing touchdowns (15), yards per rush (5.4), passing yards (1,342) and touchdown passes (10). It is his passing that has added a different dimension to this offense. Asher Clark also had a 1,000 yard season on the ground. Meanwhile, the defense is anchored by cornerback Reggie Rembert, a first-team AFCA All-American and first-team Mountain West player. He is the heart of that unit.
Georgia Tech take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: The defending ACC champs were missing too many pieces from last year’s title team to repeat, but Georgia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC) was still able to become bowl eligible for the 14th straight time. That’s the fourth-longest active streak in the FBS. The question now is whether the Jackets can find a way to end their five-game losing streak in bowl games.
It should be an interesting matchup considering coach Paul Johnson’s recent history against Air Force. As head coach at Navy, Johnson lost to the Falcons in 2002 and then beat them five straight times. Both run versions of the triple option offense, and Georgia Tech leads the nation in rushing with 327 yards per game. The Jackets’ rushing defense is No. 78 in the country, allowing 169.67 yards per game.
Georgia Tech’s biggest problem this year has been on defense under first-year coordinator Al Groh, former head coach at Virginia. The Jackets are No. 60 in the country in scoring defense, allowing 26.17 points per game. Air Force is averaging 32.25 points per game. Georgia Tech has lost four of its past five games, but one of the biggest losses of the season was quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, the heart and soul of the offense.