Bowl Breakdown: Independence
Option teams Air Force, Georgia Tech combined for 299 pass attempts all season
Tevin Washington will be making just his fourth start for the Yellow Jackets
With both defenses struggling against the run, veteran play should help Air Force
Air Force (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)
Dec. 27, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Reason to watch: With two triple-option attacks facing off, don't expect many pass attempts. Georgia Tech leads the nation in rushing with 327 yards per game, while Air Force ranks second nationally with 317.9 per. Oh, and the two teams have thrown the ball a combined 299 times all season. For those historically-minded readers, the bowl record for the fewest combined pass attempts in a bowl game is nine, set by Fordham and Missouri in the 1942 Sugar Bowl. The fewest by one squad is two, a record shared by three teams. The most recent? Air Force in the 1991 Liberty Bowl.
Keep an eye on: Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington. The redshirt sophomore was thrust into the starting job after Josh Nesbitt broke his arm against Virginia Tech and has shown a growing comfort level. Still, he's gone 1-2 and has proven nowhere near the magician in Paul Johnson's offense as Nesbitt, a three-year starter who earlier this year became the most prolific rushing quarterback in ACC history. The Yellow Jackets have leaned on B-back Anthony Allen, who's averaging 136 yards per game in Washington's starts. But with Nesbitt unlikely to play in Shreveport, Washington will have to shoulder more of a load in what should be a high-scoring affair.
Did you know: Johnson's history against the Falcons bodes well for the Yellow Jackets, who are trying to end a five-game bowl losing streak. Johnson went 5-1 against Air Force while coaching Navy from 2002-07, with his only loss coming in his first season in Annapolis.
Final analysis: Neither defense has been able to stop the run; Georgia Tech comes in 74th against the ground game, Air Force 100th. But the Falcons have the edge on offense. Quarterback Tim Jefferson has 30 career starts to Washington's three, making him the more effective operator of an attack that's only as good as the man at the trigger. He's also a far bigger threat to throw, with 1,342 yards and 10 passing scores on the season. Johnson's dominance of the Falcons will end, while the Jackets' bowl skid will continue.
The pick: Air Force 38, Georgia Tech 34
SI.com NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline shares his thoughts on the top pro prospects in this matchup:
Georgia Tech: RB Anthony Allen -- Allen took over for Jonathan Dwyer this season as the Yellow Jackets' featured ball-carrier and turned in a career campaign. Like Dwyer, Allen is a powerful, straight-ahead runner who's best between the tackles. He fits in at the next level as a back-up interior runner or short-yardage back. Grade: Sixth-round prospect.
Georgia Tech: LB Brad Jefferson -- Potentially one of the hidden gems in the 2011 draft, Jefferson is a fierce run-stuffing linebacker who makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Quickly locating the ball-handler, Jefferson is also a force against the run. He projects to a number of inside linebacker spots at the next level. Grade: Seventh-round prospect.
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