Texas A&M at Texas
The biggest setbacks for the Aggies are the loss (or diminished ability) of receiver Robert Ferguson and corner Sammy Davis. Glenn, the team’s sack leader and a spirited leader at linebacker, is out for sure with a knee injury that will require surgery. Ferguson (leading receiver for the Aggies and one of the top receivers in the Big 12) and Davis (a top cornerback for the Aggies) create problems for A&M if they can’t play. Playing in Austin also is a hurdle for Texas A&M. This game will probably come down to who runs the ball best. Look for this to be a showdown between A&M’s Ja’Mar Toombs and the Longhorn’s Hodges Mitchell.
Simms to start: Chris Simms started for Major Applewhite last season against A&M, after Applewhite suffered from an intestinal virus. Now, with the Aggies looming on Friday, Simms again is the likely starter because of a slight posterior cruciate ligament sprain to Applewhite’s right knee.
Simms led the Longhorns to a 16-6 halftime lead, completing eight of 16 passes for 116 yards.
Simms has struggled to recognize defenses at times, particularly in early games and his recent start against Kansas (11/11) with two of his interceptions directly responsible for nine first-quarter Jayhawk points. However, Simms quickly settled down, with the offense rolling to 637 total yards, the fourth-best effort in school history, in a 51-16 victory.
Pick: Texas —5Â½.
Georgia Tech at Georgia
Old rivalry: The rivalry, in which the Governor’s Cup is awarded, began with a 28-6 Tech win in 1893. The two teams have met 94 times, including every year since 1925, and Georgia leads the series 52-37-5.
Godsey at QB for Tech: He had thrown 32 passes in two seasons before this year. Now Hamilton is gone and the team has not missed a beat. Georgia Tech brought its road show to College Park this past weekend. George Godsey was not only the man at the controls; he has become an Atlantic Coast Conference standout. Leading percentage passer in the league, winner eight of the 10 times he has taken the field, on his way to one of the bowl games, yet to be announced.
Kelly Campbell paces a balanced receiving corps with 58 catches for 940 yards and eight touchdowns. Seven Yellow Jackets have at least 18 catches, including Kerry Watkins, with 23 catches for a 19.4-yard average and five scores. In the last five games, Campbell has caught 34 passes for 643 yards and scored nine touchdowns. The junior averages 155.0 all-purpose yards per game and leads the nation with an average of 18.5 yards/play.
Tailback Joe Burns is fifth in the ACC in rushing with 825 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is also Tech’s second-leading receiver (25 catches for 240 yards) and leading scorer (13 TD).
Tech’s offensive line continues to play well, led by senior guard Brent Key and senior tackle Chris Brown, helping the Jackets lead the ACC in fewest sacks allowed (16). Over the last five games, the Georgia Tech offense has averaged 549.8 yards and 39.6 points per game. That includes averages of 337.0 yards passing and 212.8 yards rushing. Now they face the #22 pass efficiency defense and #25 rush defense with Georgia. Georgia has looked very suspect on their pass defense in several games this year especially against Kentucky when they gave up 528 passing yards.
Tech’s defense: Tech’s defense has also played well, holding opponents to 326.0 yards (371.50 for the year) and 15.0 points per game over the last four contests (19.4 for the year). While the D is not as high rated (66 total D) as the offense they are not the liability they were last year when the team’s offense was always in a scorefest. Linebacker Recardo Wimbush is Tech’s top tackler with 83, followed by true freshman linebacker Daryl Smith with 80. Sophomore defensive end Greg Gathers has 57 tackles and an ACC-leading 13 sacks, while junior defensive end Nick Rogers adds nine sacks and 58 tackles. Sophomore safety Jeremy Muyres leads the team with four interceptions and 10 pass breakups.
Georgia running game: Freshman Musa Smith rushed for 144 yards last Saturday, including 104 in the first half, as Georgia rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat Ole Miss 32-14. Smith paced a rushing offense that gained season-high 244 yards on 45 carries. The Bulldogs’ yardage was just 22 yards fewer than they totaled on the ground in their three previous games. Now they face the #18 rushing defense in Georgia Tech and Musa Smith is questionable for the game. Georgia may have to depend more on their #77 rated pass offense to generate an offense against Tech (and Quincy Carter is expected to miss this game).
Bowl hopes: The Music City Bowl or the Independence Bowl seem more likely options for Georgia. The Cotton Bowl is also a possibility for the Bulldogs. The Yellow Jackets now have a streak of winning six in a row (and 6 in a row against the number). Georgia Tech also needs this game to get to a good Bowl.
Pick: Ga. Tech —3.