If you think that Florida was Florida State’s last true test of the season, well, you had better think again. The No. 3 Seminoles (12-0, 8-0) face No. 16 Georgia Tech (10-2, 6-2) in the ACC Championship this Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets have won five straight games, including Saturday’s 30-24 overtime thriller at No. 9 Georgia. Can Georgia Tech pull off the upset?
“I don’t see why you would think they couldn’t,” CBSSports.com college football writer Jerry Hinnen said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Florida State has flirted with disaster all season long against a whole series of teams that aren’t as good as Georgia Tech.”
The Yellow Jackets’ two losses – to Duke and North Carolina – were by a combined 11 points. They won every other ACC game by double digits.
“They blew out teams left and right,” Hinnen said. “Basically the same ACC competition that Florida State was struggling with week after week.”
Georgia Tech was also clearly the better team against Georgia, rushing for 399 yards. In fact, if not for a 99-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and a trick play on a field goal attempt, Georgia might have lost by two scores.
“I don’t understand why you would look at what Florida State’s done the rest of the season against the ACC and then turn around and say, ‘Well, they’re not in any danger against the clear-cut second-best team in the ACC’ – maybe even the best team in the ACC the way Georgia Tech has played. I think it’s going to be another come-down-to-the-wire kind of thing. At this point, honestly, I think Georgia Tech pulls the upset. If you’re Florida State, you can’t just keep doing this game after game after game and expect to come through it unscathed. I think Georgia Tech gets them.”
In the Big Ten, meanwhile, No. 6 Ohio State (11-1) must beat No. 14 Wisconsin (10-2) with a quarterback, Cardale Jones, who began the season No. 3 on the depth chart. Losing J.T. Barrett to a broken ankle has to change everything for the Buckeyes, doesn’t it?
“I would think so, but I feel like you can’t rule out an Urban Meyer quarterback,” Hinnen said. “We kind of went through this last year when Braxton Miller missed some time. Kenny Guiton came in and did a fantastic job as their backup. Everybody was saying the same thing when Miller went out to start this season. J.T. Barrett came in and has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
“Now we’re talking about third-sting,” Hinnen continued. “Now we’re talking about a guy who is older than Barrett, got passed on the depth chart, clearly is not the kind of talent that Barrett was (and) clearly isn’t even in the same ballpark with Braxton Miller. But you know, he came off the bench (and) led an 80-yard, game-icing touchdown drive against Michigan. It’s Urban Meyer. He knows how to get ready for these big games.”
Last year’s Big Ten championship – a 34-24 loss to Michigan State – is the obvious exception, but Meyer’s big-game track record, overall, is superb.
“I think this is going to be a really close game,” Hinnen said. “I think Jones is going to be prepared. I think he’s going to be focused. I think Meyer and his offensive coordinator, Tom Herman, have done a great job this season. That being said, Melvin Gordon is fantastic, and Gary Andersen is a hell of a coach himself. I think Wisconsin is going to pull it out, but I don’t think Urban Meyer’s going to make it easy on them.”