Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (ABC, Radio: 940-AM)
Stadium: Sanford Stadium (55,000)
Kickoff weather: High of 50, low of 38; cloudy, 30 percent chance of rain
Series: Georgia leads 58-36-5
Odds: Georgia favored by 3.5
Knowshon Moreno will be trying to move his name up a little further in Georgia's record book today. He has averaged 153.2 yards per game in the last five outings. If he hits that number again, he will finish the day fifth all-time in single-season rushing at Georgia. He currently is seventh and would pass Willie McClendon and Musa Smith with another 150 yards. The Yellow Jackets are led by Tashard Choice, who is the ACC's leading rusher. If he finishes No. 1 in the conference, he'll become the first player to lead the ACC in rushing in back-to-back seasons since Virginia's Thomas Jones in 1998 and 1999. "There's no doubt he's the man," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. "He will pound you and pound you and pound you until you give in. It's pretty obvious that their offense stats with Tashard Choice and their running game. They are very serious about running the ball, and Tashard is a good reason why."
Georgia is coming off a 99-yard passing game against Kentucky, its lowest total since throwing for 93 against Ole Miss in 2001. The Bulldogs failed to connect on the long throws that powered the passing game in the previous three weeks. Look for the Bulldogs to go back to the deep pass early against Georgia Tech's aggressive defense. If they can hit a few of them, it will be a long day for the Yellow Jackets. Despite its recent success in the passing game, the Bulldogs still don't have a receiver with a 100-yard game. Georgia Tech starting quarterback Taylor Bennett is completing barely 50 percent of his passes (50.5 percent) and has thrown eight interceptions and five touchdown passes. Gifted wide receiver Calvin Johnson is gone. Freshman quarterback Josh Nesbitt will occasionally spell Bennett. He is mainly a runner who is used in the same fashion as Florida used Tim Tebow last year.
The Bulldogs are finding their defensive stride but will be tested by the Yellow Jackets' ground game. Georgia is 25th in the nation in rush defense, allowing only 118 yards per game. Choice is averaging 117.6 per game, and if he gets that again it won't be the end of the world for Georgia, Richt said. "Some backs no matter what you do, they are just going to get their yards," Richt said. "Sometimes 104 yards isn't so bad. If they get a total of 104 yards rushing and nothing really broke your back … maybe that's not such a bad day for the defense." That being said, Georgia will focus on stopping the running game first and see if Tech can make any plays in the passing game. The Yellow Jackets are as aggressive as ever under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. They lead the nation in sacks (42) and tackles-for-loss (9.3 per game). Forty percent of the plays run against Georgia Tech's defense have gone for no gain or negative yards. The Yellow Jackets are No. 7 in the nation in total defense. Middle linebacker Philip Wheeler leads the way with 67 tackles and six sacks.
Edge: Georgia Tech
Georgia appears to have found a weapon in kickoff returner Asher Allen, who had an 82-yard return last week and is now sixth in the SEC with a 25.3-yard per return average. "I remember when we were at Florida State, we were not very good at returning kicks and then a guy named Tamarick Vanover showed up, and we became one of the best in the nation at returning kicks,"Richt said. "I think it has a lot to do with the return man just being brave enough to hit it up in there full speed. The No. 1 thing I like is (Allen) understands the ball security issue, and then he's brave, he's fast and he wants it. A lot of guys don't want that job." The Bulldogs remain solid in most other areas of their special teams and gave Georgia Tech something to think about last week by blocking their first kick of the season. The Yellow Jackets have dominated their special teams matchups all season. Tech is No. 1 in the country in kickoff return defense and No. 3 in net punting. It is 15th in the country in kickoff returns. Place-kicker Travis Bell, who has scored in 49 straight games, and punter Durant Brooks are candidates for the top national awards at their position. Brooks is sixth nationally in average.
Edge: Georgia Tech