Teams & Conferences

2016 TaxSlayer Bowl, Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

TaxSlayer Bowl Prediction, Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky Game Preview, History, Scores


Three reasons why you should watch the TaxSlayer Bowl between Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


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Date: Saturday, December 31st
Game Time: 11:00 am
Venue: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Network: ESPN

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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 16 out of 40

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The TaxSlayer Bowl

Lots and lots and lots of running. Between the two teams, they average around 500 rushing yards per game. Georgia Tech is obviously good on the ground – that’s what it does – but Kentucky turned explosive over the second half of the season with the rushing attack ripping it up over the run of five wins in the final seven games.

Yeah, Kentucky is in a bowl game. It took a while under head coach Mark Stoops, and there were some major misfires over the back half of the last two seasons, but the Wildcats are back in the post-season for the first time since 2010 – they’re going to be pumped. Georgia Tech missed out on a bowl game last year.

It’s the ACC in the Gator. Always sort of a consolation prize for the SEC and Big Ten – the bigger boys who aren’t in the CFP or Rose usually end up in the Citrus or Outback – there’s a new deal with the ACC getting in this game once in a while in a trade-off. It’s the first time since 2010 it hasn’t been Big Ten vs. SEC – Florida State won that year over West Virginia in Bobby Bowden’s last game.

Here’s Why Georgia Tech Will Win The TaxSlayer Bowl

No, Kentucky can’t stop the running game. There’s talent on the front seven, but it’s not a Wildcat D that’ll make a whole slew of big plays in the backfield. Missouri didn’t run much in late October, but that’s the only team not to hit the 200-yard rushing mark on this group over the last six games. Oddly enough, Alabama was one of just four teams not to run for two bills against Georgia Tech – the option will work just fine on the outside, with a big game coming from …

QB Justin Thomas. The running backs have been doing the heavy lifting in the Georgia Tech offense, but this game should be about Thomas. Lamar Jackson ran wild on the UK D – up until he started turning it over – and Thomas is about to do the same, albeit in a much different way. He hasn’t run much over the final few games of the year after getting banged up, but with the time off, this should be his time to own the ground game.

You can NOT give the ball away against the Yellow Jackets. Kentucky is about to give the ball away against the Yellow Jackets. The UK D has been able to make up for the turnovers for most of the year – winning the turnover margin in the last four games after losing it in the previous seven – but the O has given it up twice or more against everyone but Austin Peay. Give Georgia Tech a few easy chances, and forget it – the offense doesn’t need any more help.

Here’s Why Kentucky Will Win The TaxSlayer Bowl

The 1-2 rushing punch should hang with the Tech running game. Boom Williams leads the team with 1,135 rushing yards and seven scores, coming up with a touchdown in each of the last five games. He’s the speed, Benjamin Snell is the power. Between the two, and with the way the O line has been cranking, the Cats can run with anyone, hitting the 200-yard mark in six of the last seven games and eight of the last ten.

Kentucky, beat Georgia Tech at its own game. Okay, so the Cats are awful at stopping third down plays, but Georgia Tech is every bit as miserable. Teams are converting more than half of their third down chances against the Yellow Jackets, going through a stretch allowing closer to 65% over three games. Tech has to control the ball and the clock – UK has to do that.

This might be Stephen Johnson’s game. If Justin Thomas doesn’t take this over for the Yellow Jackets, it’ll be Johnson who might just do it. The QB transfer had his moments earlier in the year, but he stepped it up over the second half of the season, hitting more and more big plays with the passing game while doing a nice job helping out the ground game. He not only beat Lamar Jackson, he out played him – at least, he did if you factor in the mistakes – throwing for 338 yards and three scores on just 16 completions while running for 83 yards on just eight carries.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The TaxSlayer Bowl

Who’s going to connect on the deep passes? Neither team throws a ton, but Georgia Tech is more efficient and effective on hitting the home run ball. Both defenses know it’s coming, but Kentucky has the slightly better secondary. It might take just one or two completions to turn this game around. Georgia Tech averages over 20 yards per completion, but the Cats can hit the big play a bit, too.

Neither team comes up with the big plays in the backfield. Neither team has a true killer on the defense to worry about, but they both bring the pressure from several sides. Yards after contact will matter more than stopping things behind the line, putting the pressure on UK linebackers Jordan Jones and Courtney Love, while Georgia Tech’s P.J. Davis came up strong over the final few games. The tackle numbers will be large, however …

Watch out for shootout potential. Neither defense will come up with enough stops to make this a slugfest. Will this be a 41-38 firefight like the Louisville-Kentucky game, or even a 28-27 fight like Georgia-Georgia Tech? It’ll probably be close, but expect the numbers to pile up – the 61-point over/under might be way, way light.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The TaxSlayer Bowl?

Both teams might run the ball really, really well, but Georgia Tech does this for a living.

Kentucky might be playing inspired football over the second half of the season, but the Yellow Jacket precision should be just enough to control the game in the fourth quarter to counterbalance the Wildcat rushing game explosion.

And yeah, Thomas will connect on the two big pass plays needed to open everything up – the passing game will be just a wee bit more effective.

Final Score

Georgia Tech 37, Kentucky 31

Line

Georgia Tech -4, o/u: 61

ATS Confidence: 3
5: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score in your favorite bar
0: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score after covering a College Football Playoff semifinal

Must See Rating: 3.5
5: New Year’s Eve: Defected In The House, Ministry of Sound, London
0: New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Special Co-Host Kathy Griffin

Get Tickets For The TaxSlayer Bowl

TaxSlayer, Gator Bowl History, Results

Jan. 2, 2016 Georgia 24 Penn State 17
Jan. 2, 2015 Tennessee 45 Iowa 28
Jan. 1, 2014 Nebraska 24 Georgia 19
Jan. 1, 2013 Northwestern 34 Mississippi State 20
Jan. 2, 2012 Florida 24 Ohio State 17
Jan. 1, 2011 Mississippi State 52 Michigan 14
Jan. 1, 2010 Florida State 33 West Virginia 21
Jan. 1, 2009 Nebraska 26 Clemson 21
Jan. 1, 2008 Texas Tech 31 Virginia 28
Jan. 1, 2007 West Virginia 38 Georgia Tech 35
Jan. 2, 2006 Virginia Tech 35 Louisville 24
Jan. 1, 2005 Florida State 30 West Virginia 18
Jan. 1, 2004 Maryland 41 West Virginia 7
Jan. 1, 2003 N.C. State 28 Notre Dame 6
Jan. 1, 2002 Florida State 30 Virginia Tech 17
Jan. 1, 2001 Virginia Tech 41 Clemson 20
Jan. 1, 2000 Miami 28 Georgia Tech 13
Jan. 1, 1999 Georgia Tech 35 Notre Dame 28
Jan. 1, 1998 North Carolina 42 Virginia Tech 3
Jan. 1, 1997 North Carolina 20 West Virginia 13
Jan. 1, 1996 Syracuse 41 Clemson 0
Dec. 30, 1994 Tennessee 45 Virginia Tech 23
Dec. 31, 1993 Alabama 24 North Carolina 10
Dec. 31, 1992 Florida 27 N.C. State 10
Dec. 29, 1991 Oklahoma 48 Virginia 14
Jan. 1, 1991 Michigan 35 Mississippi 3
Dec. 30, 1989 Clemson 27 West Virginia 7
Jan. 1, 1989 Georgia 34 Michigan State 27
Dec. 31, 1987 LSU 30 South Carolina 13
Dec. 27, 1986 Clemson 27 Stanford 21
Dec. 30, 1985 Florida State 34 Oklahoma 23
Dec. 28, 1984 Oklahoma State 21 South Carolina 14
Dec. 30, 1983 Florida 14 Iowa 6
Dec. 30, 1982 Florida State 31 West Virginia 12
Dec. 28, 1981 North Carolina 31 Arkansas 27
Dec. 29, 1980 Pittsburgh 37 South Carolina 9
Dec. 28, 1979 North Carolina 17 Michigan 15
Dec. 29, 1978 Clemson 17 Ohio State 15
Dec. 30, 1977 Pittsburgh 34 Clemson 3
Dec. 27, 1976 Notre Dame 20 Penn State 9
Dec. 29, 1975 Maryland 13 Florida 0
Dec. 30, 1974 Auburn 27 Texas 3
Dec. 29, 1973 Texas Tech 28 Tennessee 19
Dec. 30, 1972 Auburn 24 Colorado 3
Dec. 31, 1971 Georgia 7 North Carolina 3
Jan. 2, 1971 Auburn 35 Mississippi 28
Dec. 27, 1969 Florida 14 Tennessee 13
Dec. 28, 1968 Missouri 35 Alabama 10
Dec. 30, 1967 Florida State 17 Penn State 17
Dec. 31, 1966 Tennessee 18 Syracuse 12
Dec. 31, 1965 Georgia Tech 31 Texas Tech 21
Jan. 2, 1965 Florida State 36 Oklahoma 19
Dec. 28, 1963 North Carolina 35 Air Force 0
Dec. 29, 1962 Florida 17 Penn State 7
Dec. 30, 1961 Penn State 30 Georgia Tech 15
Dec. 31, 1960 Florida 13 Baylor 12
Jan. 2, 1960 Arkansas 14 Georgia Tech 7
Dec. 27, 1958 Mississippi 7 Florida 3
Dec. 28, 1957 Tennessee 3 Texas A&M 0
Dec. 29, 1956 Georgia Tech 21 Pittsburgh 14
Dec. 31, 1955 Vanderbilt 25 Auburn 13
Dec. 31, 1954 Auburn 33 Baylor 13
Jan. 1, 1954 Texas Tech 35 Auburn 13
Jan. 1, 1953 Florida 14 Tulsa 13
Jan. 1, 1952 Miami 14 Clemson 0
Jan. 1, 1951 Wyoming 20 Washington & Lee 7
Jan. 2, 1950 Maryland 20 Missouri 7
Jan. 1, 1949 Clemson 24 Missouri 23
Jan. 1, 1948 Maryland 20 Georgia 20
Jan. 1, 1947 Oklahoma 34 N.C. State 13
Jan. 1, 1946 Wake Forest 26 South Carolina 14