Humanitarian Bowl Preview: Fresno State vs. Georgia Tech

Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl
Dec. 31, 11 a.m. PST
Fresno State (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
Boise, Idaho
Payout: $750,000
Spread: Georgia Tech – 4.5

One has to wonder about Georgia Tech’s approach to this game. For one, the game is in Idaho, 2,000 miles from home. They’ve also just had their head coach fired. Chan Gailey, after six mediocre seasons and six losses to arch-rival Georgia, was canned. Interim coach and defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta was given the chance to lead the team into the bowl, but how the team will respond is unknown. The weather will also play a factor as it’s expected to be in the thirties. Fresno State will be used to the cold atmosphere of Boise, thanks to conference rival Boise State, but the Yellow Jackets rarely play in such cold weather. One has to wonder if they will be motivated enough to win this game.

Fresno State, on the other hand, missed out on bowl season altogether last year and should be happy to crash the party once again. Talent wise they look over matched and since running the ball is their forte, they’ll be in trouble against a tenacious Georgia Tech front seven. It doesn’t help that a trio of Fresno runners are trying to recover from injuries. Ryan Matthews is said to be out of the lineup while Lonyae Miller and all-purpose back Clifton Smith are still working their way back to 100 percent. Smith is third on the team in receptions and rushing. He’ll give Tech linebackers fits in the open field if he’s able to contribute. Sophomore Anthony Harding has stepped up in their absence, running for over 100 yards in the final two games of the year.

Georgia Tech’s front seven, if they show up to play, should dominate the point of attack and put the game in the hands of Fresno QB Tom Brandstater. Brandstater has improved significantly from last season. He had his best game of the year in a win over Kansas State where he threw for 313 yards, 2 TD’s and no interceptions while completing 79 percent of his passes. If he has a repeat performance against Georgia Tech, they’ll win this game handily. The Tech secondary doesn’t need to force turnovers, which is good because they haven’t been able to this year, but they do need to keep everything in front of them because a big play in a game like this is demoralizing and may send Tech into a downward spiral.

I’m not sure what to expect from the Georgia Tech offense. Some have said freshman quarterback Josh Nesbitt will see time over incumbent Taylor Bennett. After last year’s Gator Bowl Bennett gave hope for an improved Tech passing game, but he has fared little better than his often criticized predecessor Reggie Ball. For incoming head coach Paul Johnson’s triple option offense, Nesbitt would be a far better fit. His athleticism gives the Jackets an extra dimension on offense for teams to prepare for. The Fresno State defense doesn’t have the horses to compete with an offense like that, but if the Jackets remain one-dimensional and stick to the ground game with Tashard Choice, the Bulldogs will stick around and have a shot at winning.

There’s no reason for Georgia Tech to lose this game other than their own lack of concentration. If they’re prepared and show up to play they can win easily, if not, it’s the 2002 Sillicon Valley Classic all over again when the Jackets were six point favorites and lost 30-21. I think the smothering front seven of Georgia Tech will be too much for Fresno’s running game and while Brandstater might keep things close, he won’t open it up enough to pull off the upset.

Prediction:
Georgia Tech 13 – Fresno State 6

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3 Responses

  1. “Anybody, any time, any where”
    -Pat Hill
    Way to low ball that score genius. Go State!!!

  2. I’m glad I got put in my place here. Good on Fresno State for picking up the win.
    – TM

  3. way to go tommy!!!! go dogs …

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