Thursday, September 24, 2009
UNC @ Georgia Tech Prediction: Saturday September 26
North Carolina Tar Heels @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Saturday 12PM Raycom
Line: GT -2.5 (open -2.5)
Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets try to bounce back against UNC after being embarrassed by Miami last Thursday. The Tar Heels are off to a 3-0 start for the time in 12 years led by a smothering defense. Vegas has installed GT as a 2.5 point favorite.
Last Meeting - North Carolina 28 Ga Tech 7 Chapel Hill, NC 2008
UNC used 21 4th quarter points to pull away from Ga Tech in the 4th quarter for a 28-7 win despite being out gained 423-314. The Yellow Jackets had 326 yards rushing but turnovers did them in on numerous drives.
Keys to the Game
1. Line of Scrimmage
If Tech thought Miami's and Clemson's defensive lines were impressive, they may not have even seen the ACC's best that could reside in Chapel Hill. In three games, the Heels are giving up just 52 yards per game on the ground. A big key to slowing down the spread option offense is pressure up front and not allowing the backs and QB to get to the edge.
In the loss to Miami, GT was manhandled up front by the Canes. To win this game they have to play better than they have in their last six quarters. Also, their defensive line was not able to get any pressure on Miami last week.
As I mentioned previously, GT out gained and out first downed UNC last year, but lost the game when they lost the ball. North Carolina also has to take better care of the ball than they have thus far with seven turnovers in three games.
When you have two evenly matched teams in talent and coaching, turnovers could be the deciding factor.
3. Red Zone Scoring
North Carolina is a blistering 10 for 10 in red zone scores this season scoring touchdowns on seven of those 10 times. Their vaunted defense has allowed the opposition inside the 20 just six times and only three of those went for TDs.
Georgia Tech has had 11 chances in the red zone, but has punched it in the end zone just three times! Their opponents are scoring TDs 50 percent of the time. The Yellow Jackets cannot settle for FGs against a defense like Butch Davis'.
The score last year was not indicative of how close the game was. GT had played 3 games in 13 days by last Thursday and was simply out of gas. Coming off a SU loss, Paul Johnson was 3-0 last year and 18-10-1 ATS in FCS.
For Ga Tech to win this game they have to block much better than they have thus far this year. And that will be a tall task against UNC's defense.
I think Georgia Tech bounces back this week after getting some rest and a renewed focus, but North Carolina makes it close enough to cover.
Georgia Tech 23 North Carolina 21
North Carolina Covers -2.5