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Georgia Tech season review

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Overview: At the beginning of the season, doubt and questions surrounded Paul Johnson and his triple-option offense, and the Yellow Jackets were picked by the ACC media to finish fourth in the Coastal Division. Surprise. Georgia Tech enters the Chick-fil-A Bowl No. 14 in the BCS standings and confident after beating rival Georgia for the first time in eight tries. Johnson earned national recognition in his first year as head coach for putting the team in contention to win the division despite a new offense, a new defense and a roster below the maximum 85 scholarships.Johnson inherited a team with 76 scholarship players, including three senior walk-ons. He also did it with one of the youngest rosters in the country, as 16 freshmen or sophomores are likely to start in the bowl game against LSU. Seven true freshmen have played for Tech this season, including four who started. Johnson dispelled the notion his offense was "3 yards and a cloud of dust" with 64 plays of 20 yards or more. It IS a run-based offense, though, and despite an inconsistent offensive line that lost its best player to injury, the Yellow Jackets are third in the nation with 282.3 yards per game.

Offensive MVP: B-back Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer leads the ACC in rushing (110.7 yards per game), ranks second in all-purpose yards per game (136.8) and second in touchdowns scored (13). He has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game nine times this season, including four straight to end the regular season.

Defensive MVP: Defensive end Michael Johnson. He ranks third in the ACC in tackles for loss (15.0) and fourth in sacks (7.0). The 6-foot-7 Johnson broke up seven passes, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble, blocked a Mississippi State field-goal attempt and returned an interception for a touchdown against Miami.

Turning point: A helmet-to-helmet call on true freshman Cooper Taylor in a 20-17 loss at Virginia Tech may have cost the Yellow Jackets the tiebreaker. It was a call Johnson still disputes and it helped the Hokies in their 76-yard game-winning drive.

What's next: The Yellow Jackets have a chance to improve their record to 3-0 against SEC opponents when they face defending national champ LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. A win would give Georgia Tech its first 10-win season since 1998.