ACC Championship Pick
Let's just say this isn't the most anticipated Championship game of the weekend. Florida State enters this game as 14-point favorites coming off a loss to Florida. They followed up their first loss of the season with a 51-7 drubbing over Boston College (not to compare BC and Georgia Tech). Against the Gators, it looked like things would end well for the Seminoles until Florida scored 24 straight points in the fourth quarter to win 37-26. The Yellow Jackets are also coming off a loss, although it was a game they were never in. Georgia led from the start and ended up winning 42-10. GT find themselves in the ACC Championship game with a 6-6 overall record due to tiebreakers over North Carolina and Miami (FL).
These teams haven't played since 2009 and Georgia Tech has surprisingly won the last two games in this meeting, although Florida State won the previous 12. The Seminoles have not done very well against the spread lately, only going 2-7 in their last nine games. The Yellow Jackets are a tad better at 4-5.
There isn't a ton of defense played in the ACC, that's why Florida State has dominated much of the conference. They are seventh in the nation with 15.1 points allowed per game yet just allowed 37 points to Florida, a team not known for their offense. The Seminoles also allowed 37 points to Clemson, but were able to put 49 points on the board themselves in that game. The only time the Yellow Jackets have stopped a team this year was against Maryland and that was against about a fifth-string QB.
EJ Manuel is not a fifth-string quarterback and he usually capitalizes against poor defenses. He has 2,967 yards, 22 TDs and nine INTs for the year. Those aren't great numbers, but that's not where they dominate. FSU has 34 rushing TDs as a team. They have four running backs with at least 41 rushes and a yards per carry average of at least 5.8. The disappointing part is that former starter Chris Thompson tore his ACL five games ago and is still their leading rusher. Current starter Devonta Freeman only managed 37 yards on eight carries against the Gators. If FSU wants to cover that spread, he'll need a better game than that.
Georgia Tech's offense is basically all through the ground game. Tevin Washington and Vad Lee split time at QB and neither of them has completed more than 10 passes in their past seven games. That's how run-oriented their offense is with the use of a triple option. As a team, they have 3,880 yards and 46 TDs on the ground. Those QBs lead the team in rushing TDs. Washington has 618 yards and 18 TDs while Lee has 489 yards and nine TDs. Orwin Smith and Zach Laskey lead the team yardage wise with 1,296 combined yards, but it's usually Washington who holds onto the ball in the red zone. Smith missed last game and is questionable to play in this one.
Florida State is 10-1-1 ATS in their last 12 neutral site games while Georgia Tech is 1-5 ATS in their last six neutral site games. If FSU figures out the Yellow Jackets triple option, they may be extending that ATS record. The over is 3-0-1 in the Seminoles last four games overall and 5-1 in the Yellow Jackets last six games following a straight up loss.
Not crazy about laying -14 points in a championship game. But the fact that FSU is coming off a loss, it should keep their focus. They are the better team and the numbers certainly back that up. Our model likes the Seminoles by 20+ points and that's the way we're going to go here. Florida State -14.