No. 15 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-0, 1-0 ATS) at Miami Hurricanes (1-0, 1-0 ATS) Miami, F.L. Thursday September 17th, 7:45PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Georgia Tech +4.5/Miami -4.5
The No. 20 ranked Miami Hurricanes will host the No. 15 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a primetime ACC battle this Thursday night. It is the 2nd straight Thursday night of college football hosted by ACC Championship hopefuls. Last Thursday Georgia Tech jumped all over Clemson in the first half 24-7. However, the Tigers rallied back and the Yellow Jackets defense come up big on the final possession of the game to hold on for a 30-27 victory. The Yellow Jackets look to knock off another big time ACC opponent against Miami this Thursday night.
The Hurricanes have had 10 days of rest since their opening 38-34 mild upset over inner state rival Florida State. Miami held their own against the Seminoles with the emergence of QB Jacory Harris who threw for a career high 386 yards in the contest. Harris could play a big factor in the match-up considering how shaky the Yellow Jackets secondary looked last week. However, the Hurricanes will still have to overcome the best rushing offense in the conference if they are to continue what many believe will be their breakout season this Thursday night in a big ACC showdown.
The Yellow Jackets ground game will be led by 2008 ACC Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer was held in check against Clemson last week with 18 carries for just 66 yards. Dwyer who is one of the best backs in the conference has just 161 yards on the season after racking up nearly 1,400 yards last season. The majority of the play calling will feature the option style offense with Dwyer and QB Josh Nesbitt trading carries.
Nesbitt has been very effective from behind center rushing the ball for 184 yards in 2 games with 5.8 yards per carry average. However, Nesbitt is most effective when he can make throws with his arm to keep the defense on their hills. Something that the Yellow Jackets quarterback could not do against Clemson. If he can make some passes early, the Georgia Tech offense can keep Miami guessing on defense rather keying down on the running game like the Tigers defense was able to do in the 2nd half last week.
The key for the Hurricanes in this game will be first and foremost stopping the run. The Miami defense allowed over 150 yards per game on the ground last season. They will have to do better than that this Thursday against a powerful ground game. If Miami can stop the run, they should be able to have success on the offensive side of the ball. The Hurricanes took advantage of a shaky secondary against Florida State and that could likely be the same scenario against Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets secondary was exposed in the 2nd half last week giving up 263 yards through the air. Jacory Harris will have the chance to put up more solid number directing the Miami passing game. WR Travis Benjamin and Leonard Hankerson combined for 8 catches and 200 yards against the Seminoles. Both wide outs could provide some excitement again this Thursday if they can find a home behind the Yellow Jackets defenders. Miami has been waiting for a QB to step up and get the offense rolling again and they may have found their man with Harris behind center.
The anticipated conference battle Thursday night will come down to defense. Two solid offenses take the field, but it will be on the defenses to stop the other. Neither defense is considered overwhelmingly strong. However, either the Miami defense will stop the run or the Yellow Jackets defense will stop the pass. Then again, there has not been much defense in any of the previous ACC match-ups over the past few seasons so it could be another shootout type game. However, with Georgia Tech having to rely on the ground I think it will be more difficult for the Yellow Jackets to score quickly. Nearly, 60% of the early betting action is riding with the Hurricanes and for this game the betting public should be correct.
Jay’s Pick - Miami - 4.5.