Sports Illustrated's Ben Glicksman previews the Orange Bowl matchup between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
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No. 7 Mississippi State and No. 12 Georgia Tech, two of the nation's most dynamic teams, are set to meet in the 2014 Capital One Orange Bowl in an Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference showdown on December 31, 2014 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The No. 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-3, 6-2 ACC) boast one of the nation's top rushing offenses. Quarterback Justin Thomas leads Head Coach Paul Johnson's vaunted spread option attack that ranks third in the nation in rushing yards (333.6 ypg) and first in third down efficiency (57.0%). Thomas ranks fourth nationally amongst quarterbacks with 965 rushing yards, to go along w ith his 17 passing touchdowns. He is joined in the backfield by a pair of talented running backs who both rank in the top eight in the conference in rushing. Senior Zach Laskey has been a mainstay in the Georgia Tech backfield and his running mate, Synjyn Days, is averaging 110.7 yards over the past six games. Senior linebacker Quayshawn Nealy leads an opportunistic Georgia Tech defense that ranks second in the nation with six defensive touchdowns. Nealy, a Lakeland, Florida native, is second in the team in tackles and has two defensive touchdowns.
The No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs (10-2, 6-2 SEC) have put together the first 10-win regular season in school history. Head Coach Dan Mullen's record breaking offense has shattered the school record for both points and total yards in a single season. The Bulldogs rank fifth in the nation in total offense (506.2 ypg) and 15th in scoring offense (37.2 ppg) and are led by Maxwell Award and Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award finalist Dak Prescott. He's among the top five in the conference in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. He's fifth in the nation in rushing yards amongst quarterbacks with 939 and leads the SEC in rushing touchdowns with 13. He's joined in the rushing attack by running back Josh Robinson who ranks third in the SEC in both rushing yards (1,128) and rushing touchdowns (11). On the defensive side of the ball, Mississippi State ranks 10th in the nation in scoring defense (19.4 ppg). The unit is led on the front line by defensive end Preston Smith whose 9.0 sacks leads the team and ranks fifth in the conference. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney leads the team in total tackles with 61 and fumble recoveries with three.
Georgia Tech is making its seventh appearance in the Orange Bowl, most recently following the 2009 season. The Yellow Jackets are 3-3 all-time in Orange Bowl games. Mississippi State is making its first Orange Bowl appearance since 1941; they are 1-1 all-time. The teams have met four times previously, with Georgia Tech holding a 4-0 all-time edge against Mississippi State. They most recently met in 2009, a 42-31 win for Paul Johnson over Dan Mullen in his first year at Mississippi State.
The 2014 Capital One Orange Bowl will be played on December 31 at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida, is part of the New Year's Six Bowls and pits the ACC Champion (or highest ranking ACC team if the champion goes to the College Football Playoff) against the highest ranked available non-champion from the Big Ten, SEC, or Notre Dame.
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Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Content Agency
"New Year's Six: Orange Bowl Preview"