Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
When: Saturday, September 25th, Noon
Records: UNC 3-0, 1-0 ACC; Georgia Tech 3-0; 0-0 ACC
I am going to be upfront with you. I don't have a good feeling about this one. First of all, it is in Atlanta and we all know how things go for UNC in Atlanta. At this point it is possible UNC fans might be the only group of people in history that hate Atlanta more than General Sherman did. It is the Bermuda Triangle of UNC athletics and a place UNC has not won at since 1997 in football.
As for the more tangible reasons, Georgia Tech comes in boasting the #1 offense in the country at a gaudy 675 yards per game or 10.3 yards per game. Yes, this came against less than stellar competition so one would expect there will be some watering down of these numbers once the Yellow Jackets play a few ACC games. However this is still looking like a fairly powerful offense. Like all Paul Johnson teams, the triple options drives offense but in this season's version the pass plays a more prominent roll. This is still a rushing offense but Georgia Tech has also had five pass plays in excess of 70 yards this season. With the way UNC's secondary has played, it would not be shocking to see more of the ball in the air, especially if UNC's front seven can slow down the Jackets' rushing attack. Speaking of which, UNC has not had much success in the past three years doing that so who knows if it will be different this time.
It is possible UNC's best chance in this game might be to win a shootout. GT's offense comes in ranked 49th in the country which came against inferior teams meaning it might not be as good as the ranking suggests. A low turnover, highly efficient offensive effort will be UNC's best shot at a win here. Much like the game last year this could come down to a mistake or two for a stop rather than simply forcing punts. UNC has shown it is capable of moving the football and scoring points providing players hold onto the football. Since Georgia Tech's rushing attack can consume clock, short possessions by the UNC offense would really fatigue the defense.
Overall, I am sort of expecting a loss and would be pleasantly surprised with a win. Georgia Tech's offense has always been a tough challenge, even when UNC's defense was top ten. With a questionable secondary, I am not convinced there will be enough stops to allow UNC to get ahead.
Georgia Tech 33 UNC 31