Mississippi-Georgia Tech Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 17, 2013
Like Georgia Tech, Mississippi is seeking to end an up-and-down season in positive fashion at the Music City Bowl. The Rebels will also try to earn a school-record sixth consecutive postseason victory when they face the Yellow Jackets on Dec. 30 in Nashville. Ole Miss secured its second bowl appearance in as many seasons under coach Hugh Freeze with a four-game win streak that started with a 27-24 upset of then-No. 6 LSU on Oct. 19. The Rebels, though, dropped their final two games, including a 17-10 overtime loss at rival Mississippi State on Nov. 28. "Of course it hurt," defensive back Dehendret Collins said. "You have to bounce back and get ready for the bowl game." Ole Miss (7-5) started the season 3-0 - capped by a 44-23 win at Texas on Sept. 14 - before losing its next three games to SEC powers Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M. Georgia Tech also opened 3-0, including a 38-14 victory at eventual ACC Coastal Division champion Duke on Sept. 14, before dropping three in a row. The Yellow Jackets rebounded to take four of their final six, but the only victory in the final three games was a blowout of FCS foe Alabama A&M on Nov. 23. They blew a 20-point lead in a 41-34 overtime loss to rival Georgia the next week. Georgia Tech (7-5) is appearing in a bowl for the 17th consecutive year but had lost a program-worst seven straight before a 21-7 win over Southern California in last year's Sun Bowl. The Yellow Jackets are making their first trip to the Music City Bowl, about 250 miles from campus. "To play a bowl game within driving distance for our fans, and to play against a high-quality opponent in Ole Miss, is a great opportunity," coach Paul Johnson said. "Ole Miss is a very talented football team and they are well-coached, so we certainly have our work cut out for us." Freeze also expects to see many friendly faces in the crowd. "I appreciate the unbelievable support Rebel Nation has provided our team, and I look forward to seeing a sea of Red and Blue in Nashville," said Freeze, whose program plays its home games four hours away. Ole Miss last appeared in this bowl in 2000, losing 49-38 to West Virginia, but has since won five straight postseason games. The Rebels are 9-1 in the last 10, including a 38-17 victory over Pittsburgh in last year's Compass Bowl. In its attempt at a school-record bowl win streak, Ole Miss will try to slow down Georgia Tech's triple option. The Yellow Jackets ranked sixth in the FBS with 311.7 rushing yards per game, and that doesn't bode well for a Rebels defense which surrendered an average of 188.4 against major conference opponents. Tailback David Sims has a chance to become Georgia Tech's first player to run for 1,000 yards since Anthony Allen in 2010, having rushed for 846 with 11 touchdowns for a team that was 22nd in the FBS with 36.6 points per game. The Rebels totaled just 20 points in their final two games as Bo Wallace failed to throw a touchdown pass and had four of his nine interceptions. The junior threw for only 17 TDs - five fewer than his sophomore year - but finished second in the SEC with 3,090 passing yards. Laquon Treadwell earned SEC freshman of the year honors after making a team-best 67 receptions for 557 yards and five TDs. Treadwell was part of a highly touted class that included the nation's No. 1 recruit, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, and offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil. Wallace will have to be weary of defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu, who registered 10 of his 12 sacks over the final five games and earned all-ACC first-team honors. Attaochu's 31 career sacks are tied for the most in school history. Despite his efforts, the Yellow Jackets were second-to-last in the ACC against the pass, surrendering 243.5 yards per game. However, they ranked ninth nationally against the run (107.0 ypg) and in the top 30 in total defense (350.5) and points allowed (22.7 per game). Ole Miss is facing Georgia Tech for the first time since a 41-18 rout in the 1971 Peach Bowl. The Yellow Jackets have won two of three all-time matchups.
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