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Georgia Tech vs. Air Force: The Independence Bowl Preview

In case you missed any of the content in build up to our final 2010 contest, here is a quick recap. We found that Air Force plays the game of field position masterfully. In this analysis, we learned that Air Force hates to punt and has a terrible field goal kicker. We broke down the 1977, 1978, and 1979 games against Air Force where Tech outscored the Falcons 93-24. In the 1978 contest, Eddie Lee Ivery broke the single game rushing record. We interviewed bloggers from the Mountain West Conference, West Point, and the Naval Academy to get insider perspectives on the Air Force personnel and attack.

Unlike the games in the 70's, which were scheduled by Bobby Dodd during Tech's independent run, this game has a completely different set of motivations. In the 70's, Tech was playing for national recognition to get into a postseason bowl game. According to Coach Pepper Rodgers, the independent schedule was murderer's row. This fourth contest against Air Force is completely different. The 2010 Independece Bowl sees Tech coming off one of its worst regular seasons in 10 years against Air Force who has had one of its better seasons in the last 10 years. In fact, the run under Troy Calhoun is one of the best 4 year stretches in Air Force History. 2007-2010 is the second time in AFA history that the Academy put together 4 8+ win seasons back to back.

Calhoun's bowl history is eerily similar to Paul Johnson's. The Air Force has given up 32 points per game in its last three bowl games and gone 1-2 overall with its only victory being last year over Houston. These facts are a little misleading, however, as the three bowl opponents of Air Force had been averaging 37 points per game in I-A games leading up to their respective bowls. Air Force actually reduced each team's scoring by about a touchdown. In 2010, Air Force held teams to about 5 points less than their season scoring average. This doesn't bode well for Tech who has shown aversion to finding the end zone in bowl games lately scoring only one offensive touchdown in two bowl games under CPJ.

If there was a definitive key to victory for Georgia Tech, I'd say it is execution. Air Force in 8 victories has a plus 5 combined turnover margin. In their four losses, Air Force has a -4 combined turnover margin. Georgia Tech, in contrast, is -2 combined on the season including a national worst 17 lost fumbles and national second-worst 17 failed fourth down conversions. Those two stats really define the 2010 season for me. If we get half of those turnovers back, this team has 3 more wins and is playing in front of 80,000 in a winnable Peach Bowl.

Bird - Tech wins a sloppy one 31-20.
Winfield - Bird is right. Sloppy, sloppy, and just odd. But hey, it's Georgia Tech football and CPJ needs to win a bowl game. Tech some how does something they haven't done in a long time: WIN without drama. 40-27.

Any thoughts or predictions on the game?