Sneaking into the Top 25 for the first time this season was huge for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets as well as it’s a big win for the ACC. However, the Yellow Jackets have won their last three games by a total of 18 points and the opponents haven’t exactly been what you would consider top-notch. That will need to change against a tough opponent this week.
The Duke Blue Devils are coming off one of their most successful seasons in school history last year and the 2014 version of this team looks poised to prove doubters wrong once again. With a 4-1 record and four multiple-touchdown victories, the Blue Devils are one of the darkhorse favorites to win the conference this season — or at least contend to the end.
Georgia Tech is, and has been, known for its solid run game. The Yellow Jackets don’t exactly have one of the most potent offenses in the nation, ranking 42nd in points per game and 122nd in passing yards per game, but they have one of the top rushing attacks in all of college football, ranking 12th. Sophomore quarterback Justin Thomas leads all rushers with 470 yards and three touchdowns on six yards per carry while also passing for 663 yards and seven touchdowns, completing just 50 percent of his passes. Thomas has been the team’s most legitimate offensive threat and his favorite wide out, DeAndre Smelter, hasn’t been too far behind, catching 14 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns — all marks lead the team by a wide margin. Behind Thomas in the run game is senior running back Zach Laskey who has 449 yards and two touchdowns while fellow senior Charles Perkins has also been stellar, averaging 11 yards per carry on 16 touches.
Senior quarterback and second-year starter Anthony Boone is coming off a solid season for the Blue Devils and is looking to lead the team back to a bowl game for the third straight season. Boone has the passing offense ranked 81st in the nation with 1,055 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions while completing just about 57 percent of his passes. Don’t sleep on Boone’s ability to tuck and run, either, as the QB has added 99 yards and three scores on the ground this season. The senior has had three favorite targets this season; the first being Jamison Crowder. The senior wide out leads the team with 29 catches for 343 yards and two scores. The next two favorites have been Max McCaffrey and Issac Blackeney, combining for 396 yards and five touchdowns on 37 catches. The run game has fared much better, ranking 25th in the nation behind breakout freshman Shaun Wilson‘s 435 yards and four touchdowns on an incredible 12.1 yards per touch. Watch out for Thomas Sirk as well as he has accounted for 173 yards and three scores on 8.7 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Blue Devils have been solid this season, ranking in the top half of the nation in most major categories. Duke ranks a stellar eighth nationally in points allowed per game while ranking a bit less impressive 49th in total yards allowed, giving up more rush yards than pass yards — that could spell trouble. Georgia Tech hasn’t been quite as solid on this side of the ball as Duke has, ranking 57th in points allowed and 64th in total yards allowed per contest. The crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium will be rocking for the unbeaten Yellow Jackets.
Duke will travel to Georgia Tech to take on the Yellow Jackets at 12:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Oct. 11. The game will be broadcasted on GamePlan/ESPN 3.
PREDICTION: Duke 30, Georgia Tech 27
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Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.