Pick with Analysis
It wasn’t long ago that Georgia Tech was favored to win at Notre Dame and ranked No. 14 in the country. Just three weeks later, the Yellow Jackets have a losing record, and for the first team all season, will be an underdog when they travel to Clemson. The Tigers are a -7 point favorite (at BETONLINE).
This line could be bigger, but Clemson hasn’t exactly blown out its opponents in the last two Games. They escaped past Notre Dame this past weekend and only beat the Cardinals 20-17 before that. Still, the Tigers are undefeated and the No. 6 team in the country with hopes of not only winning the ACC, but also reaching the College Football Playoff.
Georgia Tech was once a favorite to win the ACC Coastal division, but those predictions are long gone. They have now lost three straight Games, the latest a surprising home upset against North Carolina. The Tech defense has collapsed in the last few Games, allowing 30 or more points in all three losses. In addition to injuries, they’ve had a couple defensive starters transfer out midseason, including a linebacker just a week ago. That doesn’t usually help.
When these teams met last year, the Tech defense dominated in a 28-6 win. Clemson couldn’t get anything going through the air, and their three QBs threw for just 59 yards and three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. With a healthy Deshaun Watson, that will likely change. But it will depend on Clemson’s rush defense if they will be able to cover this Game.
The Yellow Jackets ran for 251 yards in that Game, but the Tigers have been stout against the run this season. Louisville managed just 19 yards (sacks included) while Notre Dame didn’t have a chance to get its running Game going as Clemson got out to an early lead.
Georgia Tech has been running the triple option fine this year, despite what the record shows. They have some new faces in Patrick Skov (319 yards, 5 TDs) and Marcus Marshall, but Justin Thomas is still at quarterback, although it should be noted his passing numbers are worse than a year ago. That’s due in part to the Yellow Jackets playing from behind and forcing Thomas into throwing more than they would like.
This will be a sizable test for Clemson considering what happened last year, but this offense is also at another level with a healthy Watson, who is completing 69% of his passes for 9 TDs, 4 INTs and 186 yards on the ground. Running back Wayne Gallman hasn’t had a bad Game yet and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, which is all this offense needs.
If Georgia Tech’s defense doesn’t pick it up, this could be another non-covering loss. Clemson should be able to score, it’ll just come down to what the triple option can do against the Tigers this year.
The home team has covered in five straight meetings between these schools. The Tigers are 0-4 ATS vs. a team with a losing record though, and are in a letdown situation for this one, although it’s doubtful they are viewing Georgia Tech as a team with a losing record.
Our Pick – We don’t have a strong opinion on this one. Our model likes Clemson by 13 here. However, it’s a tricky spot for Clemson. Last week was an incredibly emotional Game with Notre Dame coming in. Duplicating that intensity will simply be impossible. Classic letdown scenario. Georgia Tech +7