UCF Knights vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Saturday, September 19, 2020 – 03:30 PM EDT at Bobby Dodd Stadium
UCF is considered one of the best teams outside of the traditional Power 5 conferences. Since Scott Frost led the Knights to an undefeated season, Josh Heupel has carried the torch for UCF. They are looking for another successful season and a potential New Years’ Six bowl bid.
To achieve this goal, they need to begin their season with a win against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets began their season with an upset win against Florida State, and they will be looking to rekindle some of that magic against the Knights.
This will be an interesting game, and the Yellow Jackets have a great chance to pull off the upset. The moneyline is set at +225 for Georgia Tech. If they are to win this game, a lot of things will have to go their way. What are the keys to victory for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets?
Georgia Tech Must Slow Down the Pace of the Game
Georgia Tech’s offense was very balanced against Florida State, but they gained over 100 yards more on the ground than they did through the air. Their ability to extend drives on the ground helped them keep the time of possession balanced.
UCF can increase the tempo and wear out a defense in a hurry. If they score a couple of touchdowns early, Georgia Tech does not have the firepower to keep up. Despite winning against Florida State, Georgia Tech scored less than 20 points.
Every second that UCF has the ball is a concern for Georgia Tech. Their defense has improved, but they’ll be trying to simply slow the Knights down. If they can limit the number of possessions that they have the ball, they can keep this game close and potentially pull off the upset.
If the over hits, Georgia Tech likely loses this game. Watch out for the NCAAF odds on the Under if you think that the Yellow Jackets will emerge victorious.
The Yellow Jackets Must Limit Their Turnovers
Let’s assume that GT can achieve the first goal of slowing down the tempo. With fewer plays, every mistake gets magnified. That would make the two turnovers they had in the first game hard to overcome.
Thankfully against Florida State, Georgia Tech still won the turnover battle. Even though this is UCF’s first game of the season, I doubt they will have as many sloppy errors as the Seminoles did. That makes it even more important that Georgia Tech can limit their mistakes when they have the ball.
Any red-zone turnover can be catastrophic. Georgia Tech can overcome a simple mistake on a deep pass or a turnover to end the half, but any turnover with a direct impact on the scoreboard will be tough to overcome. This coincides with a stronger running game. Hopefully, Jeff Sims will only have to make the easy throws and a couple of shots in this game. That makes it less likely for him to throw interceptions.
The Yellow Jackets Must Force Dillon Gabriel Into a Sophomore Slump
Dillon Gabriel served well in the absence of McKenzie Milton last season, and he looks to further improve his game as a sophomore. However, most of the normal opportunities to prepare have been stripped from him due to COVID-19. There is certainly a chance that Gabriel takes a step back as the quarterback. For Georgia Tech’s sake, that needs to be the case.
Gabriel’s weakness is his mobility. After relying on Milton to make plays with his legs, Gabriel mostly stays in the pocket and throws it downfield. Georgia Tech should look to bring pressure early and often in hopes of keeping the UCF offense out of rhythm. If the pocket collapses, Gabriel is liable to make mistakes and commit turnovers.
The worst-case scenario for Georgia Tech is that Gabriel keeps this offense firing on all cylinders. If they appear to be in midseason form, they will be hard to stop.
All in all, Georgia Tech has what it takes to win this game. The moneyline is enticing for the NCAAF pick. If you decide to bet on the Yellow Jackets to pull off the upset, keep an eye on these three things as the game progresses.