It has been a while since Georgia Tech came into a game as a favorite, but the Yellow Jackets find themselves in that territory going into Saturday’s tilt at Syracuse. Georgia Tech opened the season with an upset of Florida State before predictably falling to a very good UCF team last week. The Yellow Jackets played without six starters in that UCF game, and turned the ball over five times and had a field goal attempt blocked. The good news from the first two weeks was that Georgia Tech has been able to move the football. The not so good news is the struggle to score which plagued the Yellow Jackets last season.
Meanwhile, Syracuse fell to 0-2 after opening the season with losses to North Carolina and Pittsburgh. In those losses, the offense struggled to execute any kind of consistency or imagination while combining to score just 16 combined points. The Orange offense does get some relief in their matchup with a Yellow Jacket defense that got torched in the UCF loss last week. That matchup will be the one to watch in this game.
The game will be played in front of an empty Carrier Dome as Syracuse will not allow fans to be in attendance, and will be a late morning start. Those two factors could influence the sharpness and intensity in this game.
Tech Looks to Bounce Back As FavoriteLast week, the Georgia Tech defense got exposed by a very good UCF offense, and the Georgia Tech offense struggled with turnovers in a 49-21 loss at home. Georgia Tech was without six of their starters, including running Jordan Mason. In his stead, Freshman Jahmyr Gibbs picked up 126 yards and two touchdowns on 19 touches (15 rushes, 4 receptions). Freshman quarterback Jeff Sims engineered drives deep into UCF territory early, but threw a pick to end one drive, while the other was ended by a blocked field goal. On the day, Sims completed just 50 percent of his passing attempts while throwing two picks. The good news is Syracuse does not have the same caliber defense as UCF.
Speaking of defense, it has been up and down for Georgia Tech this season. After showing a ton of improvement over 2019 in the season-opening upset of Florida State, the Yellow Jacket defense got torched for 660 yards and 49 points by UCF. The Golden Knights moved the ball at will on the Yellow Jacket defense. But the defense gets a much better matchup this week with the inept Syracuse offense. Defensive back Juanyeh Thomas did record an interception as the Yellow Jackets forced two turnovers against UCF last week.
There are several keys for the Yellow Jackets this week. One such key is to establish better chemistry between quarterback Jeff Sims and his receiving corps. The defensive line will also need to get a better push up front. Lastly, Georgia Tech is looking to improve their special teams play, as they have had three field goals and an extra point blocked in two games this season.
Syracuse Trying to Avoid 0-3 StartThe Syracuse Orange’s schedule has not been kind to them. After opening the season against two ranked opponents, the Orange will finally play a more even matchup against the visiting Yellow Jackets. Still, that may not be enough for a win as the Orange offense has been downright awful to start the season.
Through the first two games this season, the Orange offense has averaged just 186.5 total yards per game (127 passing, 59.5 rushing). The 1.7 yards per carry has been the main reason that Syracuse’s offense has been behind the chains. Quarterback Tommy Devito has completed just 47.8 percent of his passes and has yet to throw a touchdown. Fellow quarterback Rex Culpepper has pushed the ball downfield a little more, but has completed just seven of 16 passes on the season.
Running back Jawhar Jackson has gained 66 yards in two games, but has averaged just 2.4 ypc. Taj Harris is the leading receiver with eight catches for 136 yards and one touchdown. The biggest issue has been an offensive line that has struggled to protect the quarterback and open holes for the running game.
On defense, the Orange have given up 402.5 yards per game this season. Syracuse has generated a decent pass rush with five sacks through two games, and has forced four turnovers. Linebacker Mikel Jones has two interceptions coming into this game.
Air it out for 6 🙌 pic.twitter.com/GV6FXlXube— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) September 19, 2020
With this being the first winnable game, the Orange will have to correct some glaring weaknesses, especially along the offensive line. The defense should be able to keep Syracuse in the game, and turnovers and field position could be the key in this one.
- Syracuse: 2-7 in last nine games
- Syracuse: 2-8 in last 10 ACC games
- Georgia Tech: 1-4 ATS in last five games as favorite
- Georgia Tech: 4-12-1 ATS in last 17 games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I think Georgia Tech is the better football team in this game and will ultimately win. The Tech defense should get back on track against the Syracuse offense, while the Tech offense has shown the capability to move the football. If the Yellow Jackets were consistently finishing drives, I would take the points too. However, the Yellow Jackets have not found success in the red zone this season, which could work to keep this game closer than the spread.
Prediction: Georgia Tech -7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The two teams combining for at least seven touchdowns and two field goals is laughable at this point. Both defenses seem to be well ahead of their offensive counterparts. I am confident that Syracuse will continue their offensive struggles, which puts the onus on the Georgia Tech offense to carry the total. They have yet to do that this season, albeit against better defenses. Still, inconsistency in the red zone paired with the field goal unit’s issues could keep Georgia Tech’s offensive ceiling pretty low. Go with the UNDER in this one.
Prediction: UNDER 52.5