A week after having their opener cancelled due to COVID-19, the UCF Golden Knights will finally get to take the field. September 19 marks the second latest start in school history, with the latest start being the Golden Knights’ inaugural season. UCF has a roster loaded with 16 starters returning from a team that went 10-3 a year ago, with all three losses being by three points or less. On paper, the Knights seemingly have an advantage at every position over the Yellowjackets, except for one thing.
On a weekend of upsets, Georgia Tech scored one of the bigger ones with a come from behind road win at Florida State. The Seminoles were favored by 11.5 points in that game and jumped out to a 10-0 lead despite early lightning delays. The Yellow Jackets locked down on defense over the final three quarters, allowing just three points while giving Freshman quarterback Jeff Sims time to get his feet under him. In the fourth quarter, the defense came up with a huge fumble recovery to set up the game-winning score, giving second-year head coach Geoff Collins a signature victory.
The old adage is that the most improvement in football happens between games one and two. It is there that Georgia Tech holds an advantage over UCF. Still, the Golden Knights have a veteran roster, and that experience is valuable in a game such as this. How much will the Yellow Jackets improve, and will the Golden Knights be rusty? That’s the story of this week two matchup.
The line has stayed true at Central Florida -7.5, despite Georgia Tech grabbing 58% of the bets.
The OU Line has gone from 62 up to 63, despite the Under getting 56% of the bets.
Gametime Weather: Cloudy with temps in the upper 60s
Heupel’s Squad Ready For Another Strong YearThe University of Central Florida has supplanted Boise State as the “Cinderella” of college football and is now considered a perennial contender for a New Years Six Bowl. After head coach Scott Frost led the Golden Knights to a perfect 13-0 record in 2017 before bolting for Nebraska, the Knights hired Josh Heupel, who has gone a combined 22-4 in the past two seasons. Last season, the offense was second in the nation at 540.5 yards per game and fifth in the nation in points per game (43.4) while the defense led the nation in tackles for loss per game (9.0). Heupel’s 2020 squad features 16 returning starters from that team.
Leading the way at quarterback is Sophomore Dillon Gabriel, who threw for 3653 yards and 29 TDs while throwing only 7 picks as a freshman. Otis Anderson led a trio of running backs with 726 rushing yards. Tre Nelson leads a talented corps of receivers, after picking up 830 receiving yards and seven touchdowns a season ago. Protecting Gabriel will be an offensive line that returns three of five starters. Graduate transfer (Tennessee) Marcus Tatum projects to fill a tackles position, providing stability at a crucial position.
Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon employs a defensive scheme designed to disrupt and pressure opposing offenses. Last season, the defense led the nation in tackles for loss despite not having a single player among the nation’s leaders. The trio of DT Kenny Turnier, DE Tre’mon Morris-Brash, and LB Eric Mitchell combined to record 33.5 tackles for losses last season. Aaron Robinson, the Knights’ best defensive player, leads a talented secondary that returns four of five starters from a season ago. That unit figures to be the strength of the defense.
Central Florida’s Injury Report
Out: QB McKenzie Milton, OL Allan Adams, DB Tay Gowan, OL Adrian Medley, QB Darriel Mack Jr., LB Kalia Davis, OL Lamarius Benson, and DL Mason Cholewa
Yellowjackets Show Much Improvement in Season Opener, But a Bigger Challenge AwaitsGeorgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins finally got a signature victory, and it didn’t take that long. After going just 3-10 a season ago, the Yellow Jackets came from behind to shock the Florida State Seminoles (and the nation) with a stunning 16-13 win in Tallahassee. The Yellow Jackets unleashed freshman Jeff Sims, who completed 24 of 35 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown while leading the rushing attack with 13 carries for 64 yards. Sims was poised in the face of a very good Florida State pass rush and made good decisions most of the day. Malachi Carter (6 rec., 66 yds, 1 TD) was Sims’s top target. Sims did throw two interceptions, including one on his opening drive. Overall, the offense picked up 438 yards, which was the most in the Geoff Collins era.
The biggest improvement from 2019 came from the defense. After giving up 6.9 yards per play and allowing 10 points on the first two possessions, the defense locked the Seminoles down, allowing just 3.0 yards per play and 3 points over the final nine possessions. In all, Georgia Tech limited Florida State to just 307 yards while forcing three turnovers. The defense also recorded three sacks, led by Curtis Ryans’s two fourth quarter sacks, the second of which resulted in a fumble that set up Georgia Tech’s winning score.
There is still plenty of room for improvement for Collins’s team, and they face an immense challenge against the highly ranked Golden Knights. Expect the Yellow Jackets to be a little sharper on offense this next week, but the defense may take a step back as they face a more potent offense.
On the injury front, Georgia Tech is expected to be without starting cornerback Tre Swilling and defensive end Antonneus Clayton, who missed the opener. Swilling suffered a foot injury before the season. He was an honorable All-ACC selection as a sophomore last season. Clayton was an expected starter at defensive end as a senior. The Yellow Jackets will also be playing without starting defensive tackle T.K. Chimedza, who is out for the season.
Georgia Tech’s Injury Report
Out: DL T.K. Chimedza
- Georgia Tech: 4-8-1 ATS in last 13 games
- Georgia Tech: 1-6 ATS in last six home games
- UCF: 6-1 in last seven games
- UCF: 3-7 ATS in last 10 games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Last week, Georgia Tech was facing an opponent coming off a coaching change and a tumultuous offseason. While Tech showed much improvement over 2019, there were still many areas of concern to address. Sure, UCF has not taken the field yet this year, but with the amount of returners starting on both sides of the ball, that might not matter much. Look for the UCF defense to confuse and blitz Sims into Freshmen mistakes, and look for the potent offense to move the football consistently against a decent Tech defense. I like UCF by a couple touchdowns.
Prediction: UCF -7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I like the UNDER here against a decently high total. For starters, the Georgia Tech offense is not nearly explosive enough to support this high a total. Secondly, UCF will be playing their first game of the year and could show some rust, especially against an improved Georgia Tech defense. The trends for Georgia Tech support the OVER, but this is a totally different team from last season.
Prediction: UNDER 60.5