With a 3-2 record, two straight conference losses and the road to the ACC Championship game seemingly marred now, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have to start thinking in terms of stopping the bleeding and winning the game at hand. This week’s test is particularly tough, as the Jackets travel to Utah to take on the 3-2 BYU Cougars, who are 43-9 at home under coach Bronco Mendenhall.
This year, these two teams mirror each other in more than just records. They play similarly on both offense and defense.
Last year in Atlanta, the only offense Paul Johnson‘s Jackets could muster in a 41-17 loss to the Cougars was a single field goal, although they did score touchdowns on defense and special teams. Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee is going to have to take better care of the ball against BYU, who are 18th in the nation in scoring defense and are excellent defending the run.
The good news for the Jackets is that BYU quarterback Taysom Hill has his own issues taking care of the ball, already having thrown five interceptions to only four touchdown passes this season, so the opportunistic Tech defense–who have seven interceptions this season–will have to be on their game.
But unlike days gone by in Provo, the BYU Cougars aren’t known for their high-flying aerial show, these guys run the ball to the tune of 277 yards per game. The Yellow Jacket defensive front allowed 277 yards on just 31 carries in the loss to Miami last week, and Cougars RB Jamaal Wilson is every bit as good as the Hurricanes’ Stephen Morris, who ran practically at will against the Jackets. And although throwing the ball with some accuracy may not be Hill’s forte, he’s the top rusher on the BYU team, already compiling 579 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
The way these two teams run the ball, you may be looking at a game time that runs under 2.5 hours.
The Yellow Jackets are going to find themselves in a struggle similar to the one they had two weeks ago against Virginia Tech, so making the most of every offensive opportunity is going to be key, as well as taking care of the ball and winning the turnover margin in the game. Getting RB David Sims and Lee going on the ground will be a big priority.
If the Jackets can score at least 21 points in this game, they should be able to come out on top. Right now Vegas has the Cougars favored by 6.5, with an over/under of 47.5 points.