Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Boston College Eagles (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday September 3rd, 2016. 7:30AM (EST)
Where: Aviva Stadium Dublin, Ireland
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GT -3.5/BC +3.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Boston College Eagles will kick off their 2016 seasons against each other on unfamiliar terrain at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on September 3rd. If you are wondering why these two ACC foes are colliding in Ireland, then do not alarmed. Ireland has had a long history of interesting in college football and that popularity has grown significantly in recent years. Boston College actually played in the first game on Irish soil against Army back in 1988 and this yearís game will be the 3rd college football game played in Ireland in the last 5 years.
Outside of the location factor, the real question is what should we expect from the Yellow Jackets and Eagles at Aviva Stadium? Current odds have Georgia Tech as 3.5 point favorites over the Eagles with an over/under total posted at 43.5. From the early outlook of bets taken, Georgia Tech also appears to be the popular pick with roughly 72% of all early bets favoring the Yellow Jackets. I imagine the thinking here is that Head Coach Paul Johnson is bound to rebound after last yearís 3-9 season marked the worse record of his 9 year stay at Georgia Tech.
In reality, Georgia Tech should definitely be better in 2016 compared to last yearís 3-9 mark. Last year the team was rattled with injuries on the offensive side of the football that really hurt their production. This year the Yellow Jackets have better weapons in place for Johnsonís triple option to be dangerous yet again. The top two rushers in B-back Marcus Marshall and A-back Clinton Lynch return along with quarterback Justin Thomas. Thomas has had some issues with consistency but he still has potential to be a solid quarterback in Johnsonís offense. With experience starting to develop in the right positions, the Yellow Jackets should definitely be solid on the offensive side of the football if the offensive line can hold up.
Possibly the biggest challenge the Yellow Jackets will face in Ireland is that they will be facing the #1 defense in college football from 2015 that has all the ingredients to be just as good in 2016. Boston Collegeís dynamic defense held opponents to just 254 yards per game which was the best of any team in the country. The Eagles also held opponents to just 15.3 points per game which was the 4th best mark in college football. This season the Eagles return 7 starts to that impressive group along with big names like Harold Landry and Matt Milano. As long as this group can stay healthy, there is no reason to not expect very strong results yet again.
Of course having one of the top defenses in the country can only get a team so far. If you consider how good the defense was last year, the Boston College offense was just as bad. The Eagles were another team that was decimated with injuries in 2015. However, I am not even going to place total blame on the injuries. The Eagles still under performed in every aspect imaginable on offense and their 275 total yards per game was the 3rd poorest mark in all of college football.
The hope this year is that graduate transfer Patrick Towles can bring some life to the offense. Towles was previously guy behind center for the Kentucky Wildcats. Towles started for 22 straight games for Kentucky before he was benched for the final two games in wake for young talent Darius Wade to take over. After the season, Towles chose to transfer to Boston College to play out his final season of eligibility and he chose the Eagles for their immediate needs at the quarterback position. I am sure that Towles will be able to bring improvement to the Eagles offense. However, the bulk of their improvement has to come in the form of the running game. The Eagles heavily favor the running game but they averaged just 3.9 yards per game last season. Running back Jon Hilliman is back healthy and so is backup Tyler Rouse. Therefore, there is hope that things can be better in 2016 if these guys can gel together early and that will be key for their match-up with the Yellow Jackets.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Call me crazy but I think the total is way too high for this game. You got a triple option team that runs that ball over 80% of the time against the best defense in the nation and then on the other side of the ball you have a team that also puts heavy focus on running the football except they have not established much success doing so. Take the under 43.5!
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