Georgia Tech plays at home for the first time in 2017 on Saturday when they face off against FCS power Jacksonville State in perhaps the perfect trap game for the Yellow Jackets.
Usually, when an FBS power-five program plays an FCS team, the power-five program will win. Sure, there is certainly a case or two each season that says otherwise. Examples such Michigan vs Appalachian State (2007), Portland State vs Washington State (2015), and North Dakota State vs Iowa (2016) for just a few. Georgia Tech this Saturday will face their own FCS opponent in the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, much to the dismay of Paul Johnson.
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. In two of those examples above, Appalachian State in 2007 and North Dakota State in 2016, both teams were among the top in the FCS rankings. Jacksonville State enters Saturday’s game as the FCS’s 5th ranked team.
With that being said, Saturday’s game will not be easy for the Yellow Jackets who could have a real fight on their hands.
The first major reason that Saturday may be a dogfight for the Jackets is the talent level of the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks roster is filled with FBS level talent, to say the least, their top player without a doubt is senior running back Roc Thomas.
The former five-star running back committed to Auburn out of high school but ultimately ended up transferring to Jacksonville State last summer after it appeared he wasn’t going to be the starting running back for the Tigers. Thomas appeared in just two games a season ago but had the best game of his college career two weeks ago as he had 192 total yards and one touchdown.
Add in the factor that the Jackets are playing in their second game in six days with just four days in between and it becomes even harder. For Tech, it will be just their third game this decade when playing on short rest. In those games, they are 1-2 with their lone victory coming against FCS Presbyterian, a much more comforting opponent to face on a short week. Combine the Jackets four days in between games with the fact that Jacksonville State had a bye week last week and a formula is brewing for the Gamecocks to pull off the upset.
Then there is the emotional factor. Yes, Saturday is the home opener for the Yellow Jackets and that will create a level of excitement. But ultimately, it will be difficult for the Yellow Jackets to replicate their level of emotion that went into Monday night’s loss to Tennessee.
The loss to Tennessee was the Yellow Jackets first opportunity on a national stage this season, for a good amount of players, it was the first time playing with a good amount of the country tuning in to watch them. When considering the wide range of emotions that happened throughout the game, it would be easy for the Jackets to be emotionally drained heading into Saturday.
While the best thing for the Jackets may have been to turn around and play another game less than a week later in terms of getting past the loss, it is was still a heartbreaker for the Jackets and one that they will have a hard time to put behind them. If the opponent was a top power five team, it may be a different story, but it’s hard for many teams around the country to get up and ready for an FCS program. Even if that FCS program is one of the best in the country. That being said, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the Jackets come out a tad flat this weekend.
Saturday’s game won’t be easy for the Yellow Jackets when considering all the circumstances. But despite all this, the Jackets should still be the better team on the field by a large margin on Saturday. If the game is close for a while, it wouldn’t be all that surprising but if the Jackets don’t win this game by a comfortable margin or even lose, there will be a lot of worrying going on, on The Flats.