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#14 UCF at Georgia Tech: Preview and Prediction

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The Knights look for their first win ever against the Yellow Jackets with George O’Leary in attendance

Photo: Derek Warden

At long last, it’s here.

The #14 UCF Knights open up the 2020 season in Atlanta against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on national TV. This is a huge opener for UCF, and its first against an A5 team since 2014, when the Knights played Penn State in Ireland.

This is UCF”s only scheduled non-conference game for 2020. A win here, nationally televised on ABC, would make some major headlines as UCF prepares for conference play.


Kickoff

When: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

Expected Weather: Cloudy, High 73°, Low 55°. No rain expected. Winds ENE at 10-15 mph

Line: UCF -7.5, Over/under 62 (OddsShark)

Threads:

TV

Network: ABC

Crew: Joe Tessitore and Greg McElroy. Marty Smith is on the sidelines.

Series

All-time: Georgia Tech leads 3-0.

Last Meeting: 2000. Georgia Tech (coached by George O’Leary) won, 21-17.

Of note: All four meetings have been in Atlanta. Tech is scheduled to make its firs trip to Orlando on September 24, 2022. Two of the three meetings have been decided by one possession.

Georgia Tech Coming In

Tech was picked to finish dead last in the ACC this year after a 3-9 campaign in Geoff Collins’ first year. But in their opener, they defeated a lethargic Mike Norvell-coached Florida State team 16-13 last Saturday in Tallahassee:

What to Watch For

When UCF Has the Ball

Georgia Tech’s defense played quite well against FSU, holding them to 13 points, but struggled with one thing last week, and early on it was defending the long ball. James Blackmon hit three passes of 17 yards or longer in the first half before completely collapsing into a puddle.

So there’s an opportunity for Dillon Gabriel to have himself a day here, especially if UCF can strike early. Of course, Geoff Collins and defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker know this, and their front seven will be keyed up to get after Gabriel. So UCF will have to mix in the run to keep them honest. Look for Greg McCrae and Otis Anderson to get plenty of work.

Stats from 2019

When Georgia Tech Has the Ball

Jeff Sims was efficient in the passing game, but turned the ball over twice on interceptions to Asante Samuel, Jr. (I now feel old). But he threw for 277 yards and ran for 64, and so he presents a serious threat to the defense, especially on third downs (Tech was 8/16 on third downs last week).

However, Tech’s running game is suffering from injuries a bit right now with Jordan Mason, their leading returning rusher, reportedly suffering a broken foot late last week. And with a freshman QB facing an experienced defense, if Tech can’t run the ball, they’re going to have a hard time.

Stats from 2019

Fun Facts

  • George O’Leary will be in attendance. He will be honored by Tech at halftime for his induction into their athletics hall of fame.
  • Three former UCF coaches are on Tech’s staff: Head coach Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator Andrew Thacker, and of course associate head coach Brent Key.
  • UCF recruited Georgia Tech QB Jeff Sims, and he took a visit, but chose Tech over UCF and Florida State.
  • George O’Leary was Georgia Tech’s head coach for all three previous meetings with UCF, all Tech victories.
  • The last time UCF lost to Georgia Tech, George Godsey was the Yellow Jackets’ QB. He coached at UCF from 2004-2010.

Prediction

This game will be closer than you think, but UCF holds off Tech, 31-24.

Who ya got?