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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
|AP Photo/John Bazemore|
|Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets did not challenge LSU in any phase of the game.|
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson shook his head in disgust. ACC fans probably cringed, and they should have.
Of the NCAA-record 10 bowl games the ACC will have participated in, Georgia Tech's 38-3 loss to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl will most likely wind up being the most disappointing, regardless of how Virginia Tech fares in the Orange Bowl.
Not because Georgia Tech lost, but because of HOW the Yellow Jackets lost (in embarrassing fashion), WHERE they lost (two miles from campus), and WHO they lost to -- defending national champs from the SEC who, until Wednesday night, didn't at all resemble their 2007 team.
The Yellow Jackets were outcoached and outplayed, and the end result was worse than Clemson's 34-10 loss to Alabama in the season opener. Coincidently, that game was also played in the Georgia Dome. Clemson was overhyped, and Alabama underrated. Georgia Tech, though, had proven itself worthy of carrying the ACC's torch against the SEC this season. The Yellow Jackets had already defeated Mississippi State and Georgia, and expectations were high for them going into this game, especially considering LSU ended the season with back-to-back losses.
Georgia Tech looked unprepared and LSU looked like a different team than the one that finished 3-5 in the SEC West. It was different with Jordan Jefferson at quarterback. The Tigers picked apart the Jackets' defense and controlled the clock. Georgia Tech's defense was on the field for three straight series at one point, almost a half an hour.
LSU's athletes were better, and disciplined enough to stop the triple option. A month of preparation can work wonders for a team, but even Georgia had a bye week and couldn't stop it. ACC opponents can watch this game film every day from Jan. 1 until Aug. 1 and still won't be able to slow Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones if they don't have the players with the patience to execute the defense like LSU did.
Georgia Tech got beat in all three phases of the game, especially special teams. The Yellow Jackets were caught sleeping on an onside kick, tried a fake punt that didn't work, and fumbled on a punt return.
The ACC enters 2009 with two bowls remaining -- the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl and the FedEx Orange Bowl -- and has a 3-5 record in its bowl games. But at least the rest of the conference kept it interesting, even in defeat.
The impact of Clemson's loss to Alabama faded as the season progressed, and those teams developed their identities. This one is going to have a lasting effect, because this time, Georgia Tech was the best the ACC had to offer. It had the league's Coach of the Year, its Player of the Year, and the most intriguing offense of the year. An offense that many college football fans were eager to see for the first time. An offense that went nowhere against LSU.