The Georgia Bulldogs will lock up a College Football Playoff berth with a win against Georgia Tech.
By Matt Zemek
The Dawgs could lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and still feel very safe about their playoff position. Only their seeding slot in the playoff would change. Georgia has been so much better than the rest of the nation this season that a tough loss to Bama would not meaningfully change the equation. Of course, Georgia doesn’t want to lose to Alabama. The Dawgs want the Tide to be nowhere near them in the four-team playoff field. Beating Bama would eliminate the Tide from the playoff and serve Georgia’s interests.
First things first, though: Beat Tech.
Georgia is favored by five touchdowns in this game, but what do they always say about rivalry games? You know the drill. Throw everything out the window. Start fresh. Assume nothing. In many ways, that itself is the biggest key to this game, but we’ll look at three things in particular.
1 – Contain Jeff Sims
Yes, Jeff Sims is not that good. He is very mistake-prone. He panics under pressure. He doesn’t make great decisions. We know this. Yet, it remains that Sims is very fleet-footed and extremely athletic. There are a handful of plays in every game when Sims reminds observers of his raw potential. He just doesn’t convert that potential into real gains and achievements. If he ever does, however, he becomes a very dangerous player.
Think of Sims the way everyone thought of Zach Calzada of Texas A&M heading into the Alabama game. There were glimpses of a good quarterback, but those glimpses had not turned into steady, consistent, regular displays of quality. Calzada, however, became a big-league quarterback in that game. He kept making the right throws and decisions. Suddenly, the light went on. He and Texas A&M both became completely different, and they beat Bama. That’s the kind of scenario Georgia has to guard against with Jeff Sims.
2 – All the tricks
Georgia Tech is going to throw the kitchen sink at Georgia. This is a game in which the defense has to be on guard for all kinds of wild and crazy plays in the playbook and not fall for any bait or misdirection concepts. UGA should be fine here, but rivalry game emotions can do strange things. Georgia needs to show restraint and focus.
3 – Bring the hammer
Georgia is bigger and stronger up front than Georgia Tech, and the Yellow Jackets have shown that when punched in the mouth, they will give ground and concede. Pound, pound, pound away, and Georgia will steadily take control of this game barring some improbable mistakes and wild sequences.