Today's Free Picks for
Posted Tuesday at 11:45 AM EST
Quick Lane Bowl
Wednesday, Dec 26 - Ford Field, Detroit
5:15 PM EST. Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson has opted to retire and although his announcement gets a fraction of the press that Urban Meyer’s decision gets, Paul Johnson is so well respected and loved by his players (and everyone else) that we’re going to trust his players to send him out a winner. After one ACC championship (later vacated), three conference coach of the year awards, 82 wins (and 59 losses), 72 300-yard rushing games, a stream of graduated team members and no shortage of deft play calls, sideline outbursts and unvarnished opinions, Johnson will be missed. With the aid of an unconventional option scheme that he made his own, he directed record-breaking offenses as an offensive coordinator at Georgia Southern, Hawaii and Navy, won two FCS (then Division I-AA) national championships at Georgia Southern, led a Navy team that had gone 1-20 in the two seasons before his arrival to five consecutive bowl games and, in this last chapter, took the Yellow Jackets to two Orange Bowls.
Johnson’s 11-season tenure at Tech will end here and he is one of the rare coaches to go out on his own terms. Here is what Johnson had to say, “After 40 years of coaching, it’s time to take a break. My family has sacrificed a lot over the years. I want to watch my daughter (Kaitlyn, a professional opera singer) perform and do some things with my wife (Susan) that we’ve never had a chance to do. It’s been a great run for the last 11 years here on The Flats. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and am looking forward to having the chance to coach this team one last time at our bowl game.”
As it turns out, the Golden Gophers are the perfect opponent because for one, they’re just not that good but most importantly, Minnesota allowed 278 yards per game rushing, including a mind boggling 7.8 yards per carry. The option offense is a unique animal, and lack of familiarity spells doom for opposing defenses. Earlier in the year, we highlighted the year-over-year progress Brent Venables and the Clemson defense have made against Georgia Tech. When Paul Johnson first came to Tech from Navy, we immediately started combing the future schedules with a plan to use the Jackets to attack teams and staffs facing an option attack for the first time.
We did the same when Navy joined the AAC, which slotted a lot of new faces onto the Mids' schedule. Navy's results were just as good, finishing with 12 ATS victories in the first two years of conference play, just as Johnson did in the ACC. By now, Tech, has made its way through the division crossover schedule enough that truly new opponents are hard to find but we’re not done our Christmas shopping just yet. Bowl games and new staffs are now the places to look for these opportunities, and we've got one of those on tap here. Did you see what Army’s option attack did to Houston? We like the direction of P.J. Fleck’s defense and program at large but not enough to bank on his Gophers avoiding the same fate as so many other first-timers fed to the Navy and Georgia Tech threshing machines. Always be alert for the opportunities that unusual or rarely-seen schemes provide, and especially be aware of the opposing staff's relevant background (or lack thereof). We’ll be shocked if the Gophers come in anywhere near this number.
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Georgia Tech -5½ +104 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.08)