Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Saturday Sept.19, 1:30 p.m. ET
Georgia Tech is averaging 67 points per game! Sure, they haven't really played anyone - Alcorn State and Tulane. Still, 134 points is more than 19 touchdowns. In two games. That is impressive no matter how you slice it. It's no new thing, either - they have scored at least 28 points in their last 10 games, and they put up 49 in their bowl game against Mississippi State last year.
This is a legitimate offense and a very legitimate test for the Irish. It has long been easy to dismiss the Yellow Jackets as a gimmicky offense. That just doesn't tell the story any more. And it sets up surprisingly excellent matchup for the middle of September. It's not a conference game - Notre Dame plays an ACC-heavy schedule but can't win the conference - but for two teams with national aspirations, a win will be defining and a loss a serious problem.
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame Betting Storylines
Arguably the most important player here is one who won't even be in uniform. There were massive expectations on Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire this year. He was so cemented in his position as starter that his biggest challenger headed elsewhere. Now he's gone - a broken ankle last time out ended his season after just two weeks. That means that DeShone Kizer will be called on to start. He was quite good in relief last time - 8-of-12 for 92 yards and two touchdowns - but there is a big difference between stepping in to mop up and preparing as starter for the first time when the opponent has a full week to prepare for you. It would be a lot to ask at the best of times, but against an offense this good it is a major concern. The good news, I guess, is that the Irish have experience losing key contributors - running back Tarean Folston, who was expected to be a star, was lost in the opening game to a torn ACL.
It's not hard to predict what the Georgia Tech offensive attack will look like. They are averaging 7.5 pass attempts this year and have carried the ball 54 times per game. They are averaging 8.5 yards per carry. That's not a misprint. No wonder they can score the points. So, how effectively can the Irish handle the run? In action, it's hard to know for sure. Virginia is not a very good running team and didn't try to change that reality in the last game. Texas isn't good at anything right now. The Irish have not been run on like they will be here. How you see that turning out - for both teams - is crucial for how you see this game ending.
Tech head coach Paul Johnson isn't intimidated by the setting - he beat the Irish in South Bend in 2007 in his last year at Navy. He'll be ready. He has to hope that the same can be said for his team. This is a very young team - as many as 40 guys on the travel roster could be making their first road trip. That would be a concern any time - never mind when playing against one of the most iconic programs there is. Johnson needs to have his squad ready.
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame NCAA Football Week 3 Odds and Betting Trends
Notre Dame is a rare home underdog in this one - they are getting 2.5 points here. That obviously has a whole lot to do with the loss of Zaire. Tech opened as two-point favorites and have drawn nearly three-quarters of bets, so the movement is not surprising. If anything, it is remarkable that it has only moved this much - books clearly don't want to mess with the key number of three. The total sits at 55.
Notre Dame has been an underdog at home just 26 times in the last 25 years. They are 16-10 ATS over that time. The Yellow Jackets are 9-0 ATS in their last nine games and 4-0 ATS in their last four nonconference contests. The Irish have gone "over" the total in seven of their last eight games.
Free NCAA Football Picks: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Fighting Irish Predictions and Picks
I pretty much never like taking the Irish, but I have to here. Home underdogs are often attractive. I like their defensive front, and I don't think that Kizer is the liability that bettors clearly do. I clearly respect the Yellow Jackets, but they are young and will face a much better defense than they have to date. This is a close one, and I don't see a ton of value to be had, but Notre Dame is the play.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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