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Independence Bowl Predictions: Georgia Tech And Air Force Are The Same Football Program

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Air Force Falcons have even more in common than just running unusual option-based running offenses and 3-4 defenses. Their strength of schedule this year has been almost the same, they both recruit Atlanta hard, Al Groh has coached for both (though this applies to about 66 percent of all football teams at any level), and Tech A-back Roddy Jones’ brother plays for the Falcons.

Each team’s turnover margin is more or less a wash. And they finished first and second in the nation in rushing yards, with Air Force running the ball a mere three more times than did Tech.

But there are some critical differences, and several of them should worry Jackets fans.

Though both finished near the very bottom of the nation in passing, the Falcons were considerably more efficient through the air. Over three more yards per attempt, twice the touchdowns, and a completion percentage almost 15 points higher. And Air Force doesn’t get passed on either, allowing over a yard per attempt less than Tech through the air.

One obvious key in Tech’s favor: Air Force has a very bad rushing defense, 100th in the nation and allowing almost 200 yards per game. Tech’s isn’t much better, and has allowed steady running days by almost every team it’s faced, but at least that’s one clear and very important edge.

If Tech can hang onto the ball, they can compete with anybody, as they proved in Blacksburg, where they did not really hang onto the ball all that well. I’m gonna hesitantly pick Tech to win, if only due to what should be a strong win-one-for-Joshua-Nesbitt sentiment among the team’s seniors.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.