Neither of these teams looked headed for a bowl midway through the season, but both finished on a high and that’s all that matters. Georgia Tech was up to a -5 point favorite with an over/under of 58 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) a week before the Quick LAne Bowl in Detroit.
Minnesota (7-5 ATS) had to upset its way to be in this position, beating Purdue and then winning 37-15 at Wisconsin as a 12-point underdog in the finale. This team was all over the place as seen in huge losses to Nebraska and Illinois, but also the wins against Fresno State and Wisconsin. Head coach P.J. Fleck got a one-year extension so it’s apparent he’s doing something right.
As for Georgia Tech (5-7 ATS), it’ll be playing for Paul Johnson in his final Game with the team. That may be the biggest selling point as he’s been with the Yellow Jackets since 2008, but this is just the team’s second bowl in the last Four years. They had one more win than the Gophers and displayed slightly more consistency after early losses to USF and Pitt. GT eventually figured things out and won Four straight before falling to Georgia.
Minnesota’s big test will be to stop the triple option and it’s had little experience against it this season. But again, it’s a matter of which defense shows up. The Gophers allowed 5.2 yards per carry and 170 rushing yards per Game, yet did enough to dominate teams like Purdue and Wisconsin. But while they got a couple weeks to prepare for this, it’s hard to think they’ll contain the Jackets.
Quarterback TaQuon Marshall didn’t improve his passing numbers (5 TDs, 4 INTs), but he did enough on the ground with 896 yards and 11 touchdowns, which goes well with the slew of rushers. Tobias Oliver (another quarterback, 807 yards, 12 TDs), Jordan Mason (640 yards, 7 TDs) and Jerry Howard (561 yards) also had good years for an offense that averaged 5.7 yards per carry. All numbers point to major issues for Minnesota’s defense, but it’s hard to ignore how it improved late in the season, allowing just 49 points in the final three Games. As of note, it allowed 55 points in the Game against Illinois before that.
On the other end, Georgia Tech also had some defensive issues, allowing 28.9 points per Game with subpar numbers against the run and pass. The Yellow Jackets allowed 4.5 yards per rush and that’s where Minnesota would also like to attack.
Freshman running back Mohamed Ibrahim gave the offense something to work with after finishing with 936 yards and seven touchdowns even though he didn’t play in three Games. He’ll more than likely see at least 20 carries in this Game and if all goes well, possibly 30. Otherwise, the Gophers have to lean on questionable quarterback play in freshman Tanner Morgan, who started the last five Games and managed seven touchdowns with six interceptions.
There should be points in this one because both of these defenses could have trouble. Then again, that could also churn the clock and make this a quick Game. The Golden Gophers have covered in their last five non-Conference Games. The Yellow Jackets are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five on a neural site, but 1-4 ATS in their last five out of conference.
Our Pick – To be clear, this is not a strong opinion. But we see this Game as potentially being one of those wacky college football bowl Game Scorefests. In that type of a set up, we’d lean towards the dog and of course, the over. So, let’s call it Minnesota +5 and OVER 58