Game Preview (14) Georiga Tech at (20) Miami

Steve O Speak

This is a big game for the ACC to show that they are a legitimate conference this year, which is highly in question after their performance the first two weeks of the season. Last weekend Florida State and Maryland barely squeaked by at home against a pair of FCS teams, Jacksonville State and James Madison. (19) North Carolina needed a last minute safety to overcome UConn, one of the youngest and weakest teams in the Big East. Amazingly, that performance was better than the ACC’s performance in week 1. Virginia and Duke both lost to FCS teams in a pretty bad fashion. Against other big conferences the ACC didn’t do too much better. NC State and Wake Forrest both lost at home to South Carolina and Baylor, neither one of which are going to compete for their conference title. (12) California embarrassed Maryland beating them by almost 40 points. (7) Virginia Tech loss to (5) Alabama 34-24 at a neutral site. While Tech played well and the outcome wasn’t a huge surprise, it was pretty telling that the Hokies couldn’t couldn’t win the big game. Tonight’s game will hopefully prove that the ACC has more talent in their conference behind Virginia Tech.

Tonight should be a good match up, both Georgia Tech and Miami are top-15 team material. Miami has already shown its ability to knock off ranked opponents with their 38-34 win over the 18th ranked Florida State Seminoles in week one (the only ranked opponent beaten by an ACC team this year). The Yellow Jackets did beat the Clemson Tigers last week in a 30-27 showdown. The Tigers might not be a top notch team, but they have the talent to play with anyone in the country.

For the Hurricanes to upset another ranked team they will have to deal with Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense. Last year the Yellow Jackets ran all over Miami, on their way to a 41-23 performance. In fact Tech only had seven passing attempts, completing four of them, in their 18 point victory. The Yellow Jackets will need to rely on more than just the legs of QB Josh Nesbitt and RB Jonathan Dwyer to win tonight. Miami’s defense is going to stack the box tonight to shutdown the option attack. If the Hurricanes can force Nesbitt to try and beat them with his arm instead of his legs, they will overcome the Yellow Jackets.

Miami’s offense will also need to be running on all cylinders tonight to upset Georgia Tech. Tech has an underrated defense led by DE Derrick Morgan, who is one of the best pass rushers in college football. If Morgan is a force tonight and can put constant pressure on QB Jacory Harris, then the Yellow Jackets have a good shot of winning on the road. If Harris plays like he did in week 1 against FSU, then Georgia Tech will find themselves with a number in the loss column. Harris, took his game to the next level against the Seminoles, and if it is the real deal and not just a flash in the pan, Miami’s offense is going to be real dangerous this year. They have very talented receivers and plenty of speed at running back. What they’ve needed was a signal caller who could make plays happen, and they might have found that in Harris.

I’d look for Miami to challenge the Yellow Jackets in the air early on in this game. Not only is that Miami’s strength, but the Georgia Tech defensive backs are probably their weakest unit. If Harris can lead the Hurricanes to some quick scores (and the defense can contain Dwyer), the Yellow Jackets will be forced to play catch up by throwing more than they want to. I think the Hurricanes win at home 35-27.

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