No. 23 Miami Hurricanes (7-3), +3, o/u 34 @ Georgia Tech (7-3), -3, o/u 34, Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, Thursday
By Oracle of Predictem.com
Just like the good ol’ days.
The Miami Hurricane football program has waited more than two years and 41 polls for this moment. For the first time since September of 2006, “The U” is ranked in the Top 25.
Albeit a modest No. 23 ranking, compared to where this program was including not making a bowl game last season and the numerous on and off-field incidents of its players head coach Randy Shannon has his guys on track.
His young squad will travel to Georgia Tech on Thursday night in a big ACC showdown. The Yellow Jackets (4-3) are just a half game back of Miami (4-2) in the ACC standings. With a loss, it virtually ruins any chance that first year head coach Paul Johnson and his team will take the crown.
In fact, Miami has a chance to clinch the title this weekend via two different scenarios if they win: 1) a North Carolina loss to North Carolina State, or 2) Virginia beats Clemson and Virginia Tech wins against Duke.
So with a chance to win the ACC crown, a ranking in the Top 25, and a five game winning streak, it’s a lock that the Hurricanes are the favorite in this game, right?
The home team Yellow Jackets are the favorites -3 while the over/under opened at 34 points, according to most online sportsbooks, but has fluctuated dramatically, getting up to as many as 40.5 points and as low as 33.5 points.
There are three reasons why the sportsbooks figured GT was the favorite, as they may be trying to pull the wool over bettors’ eyes. First, Georgia Tech hasn’t played in nearly two weeks (Nov. 8th against North Carolina), so they are refreshed. Second, the Yellow Jackets are 5-1 straight up at home this season. And last, Tech has a three-game winning streak against the Canes.
Add to the mix that Miami hasn’t seen an offense such as GT’s all season long, bettors and fans alike have a pretty intriguing match up on their hands.
The Yellow Jackets were in a similar position as Miami a few weeks ago, ranked number 22 before falling victim to UNC, 28-7. Before that, the Jackets were the surprise team not only the ACC, but the entire country at 7-2.
Johnson has brought with him some of the most exciting brand of football around, in this writer’s humble opinion the spread option offense. His offense ranks second in the ACC with 358.2 yards per game and eighth in the nation in rushing per game (250.7).
It’s the Georgia Tech defense that has let them down in losing two of their last three games. They’ve given up 80 points in that span to the likes of Virginia, Florida State and North Carolina.
The problem has also been turnovers on the offensive side of the ball, as is such in the option offense. The Yellow Jackets have lost 17 fumbles, which is 118th out of 119 FBS teams.
A late update has Tech’s quarterback Josh Nesbitt as questionable for the game on Thursday, too, with a bruised sternum. If he won’t be able to go, Jaybo Shaw will be under center. Either way, the option offense is all about rhythm, so if Nesbitt isn’t able to go, Tech may be in a bit of trouble, although Shaw is the better thrower of the two.
Miami has athletes all over the field. They also get left tackle Jason Fox back from an ankle injury, as he’ll provide protection for quarterbacks Robert Marve and Jacory Harris.
The freshman phenom Harris is one of those stellar athletes, as he can run and throw out of the backfield, and will even line up as a wide receiver.
Running back Graig Cooper will be the key for The U. He has nearly 700 yards rushing on the year and has game-breaking ability. If he gets going, it’ll make it that much easier on the young quarterback Marve, who has struggled throwing at times (10 picks) this season.
Miami does have a few trends that head their way in this one. In the last five meetings between these two squads, the road team is 4-1 ATS. Also, the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams. The under plays heavy for Tech after a bye week, as it’s 5-0 in the last five games. It’s also 6-1 in the last seven ACC games for Tech.
A nice trend for bettors to notice favoring Miami is the fact that during their last five road games, they’re 5-0 ATS.
With Tech coming off a nice rest, they have struggled covering the spread. They’re just 1-7 in their last eight games after a bye week. They are 4-1-1 ATS following a straight up loss, though.
Something has to give in this match up. The speed and youth of the Hurricanes will clash mightily with the exciting spread option offense. Don’t miss Thursday night football!
Oracle’s Pick: Since this college football season has been pretty unpredictable, this pick goes strictly by the trends. Tech struggles covering after their bye week, while Miami is perfect against the spread on the road this year. Take Miami plus any points you get!