Thursday, December 28|
Streaking teams on collision course
By Mel Kiper
Friday, Dec. 29 (5 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Georgia Tech (9-2) vs. LSU (7-4)
While LSU dropped their regular season finale to Arkansas by a score of 14-3, you could still argue this matchup pits two of the hotter teams in college football over the mid-to-latter part of the season.
At LSU, Nick Saban has to be credited with a job well done. In just his first year directing the Bayou Bengals program, Saban rallied the troops down the stretch, winning four huge games against Kentucky, Mississippi State, Alabama, and Ole Miss before the loss to Arkansa. Keep in mind, the Bayou Bengals also showed a great deal of resilience. They beat Mississippi State in overtime, and did the same to Tennessee earlier in the season.
The key for LSU was the steadily improving play of junior QB Josh Booty. After being plagued by some bad decisions throwing the football, Booty gained a measure of consistency, while producing more big plays. Assisting Booty was the outstanding performances turned in by highly-skilled redshirt freshman RB LaBrandon Toefield. The 5'11", 225-pounder runs with authority on every carry.
Not to be overlooked for LSU was a hard working, well-coordinated defensive unit, led by instinctive sophomore LB Treverance Faulk who paced LSU in tackles, stops behind the line, and fumble recoveries.
Against Georgia Tech, Booty will need to be on top of his game, because you can rest assured that Rambling Wreck signal-caller George Godsey will be throwing strikes all over the field. Godsey was brilliant this season and, I thought, deserving of a few Heisman Trophy votes. At his disposal are a host of talented skill-position athletes, led by RB Joe Burns and WRs Kelly Campbell, Kerry Watkins, Will Glover, and true freshman Nate Curry.
Defensively, Georgia Tech showed monumental improvement over last season, keyed by DL Greg Gathers, DL Nick Rogers, sophomore LB Recardo Wimbush, true freshman LB Daryl Smith, and DB Chris Young. This unit attacked more, while coming up with high numbers of game-changing impact plays that allowed Godsey and company to work with short fields.
This should be an outstanding football game. LSU battles and scraps for 60 minutes, with Saban able to keep the Bayou Bengals within striking distance as games move into the fourth quarter. This season, Saban had LSU winning the majority of the close games, with the exception being only the disappointing 13-10 loss to Alabama-Birmingham way back on September 23rd. Georgia Tech presents all kinds of problems for a defense, with Godsey able to distribute the ball to a host of talented wide-outs, led by a gifted big-play deep threat in junior Kelly Campbell.
|Georgia Tech QB George Godsey faces a tough challenge from LSU|