College Football Pick: Favorite to Cover in Georgia Tech-Duke Showdown

David Lawrence

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 1:19 PM GMT

We preview Saturday's matchup between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Duke Blue Devils, as we believe that this ACC matchup could hold solid college football betting value.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Duke Blue Devils are both coming off bad losses. Georgia Tech’s loss was bad because of how poorly the team’s offense played. Duke’s loss was bad for the same reason, only more so because Duke was playing at home and not on the road, as Georgia Tech was. These teams both need to bounce back, and they both want to start the ACC season on the right note. Which side will have the right answers?

 

Momentum
The Yellow Jackets lost by a 30-22 score at Notre Dame, but this was a 30-7 game midway through the fourth quarter. It really wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Georgia Tech had problems on Saturday, starting with its offensive line getting dominated by Notre Dame’s defensive front. Georgia Tech has to be able to block effectively for the rest of its option offense to take effect, but that just didn’t happen on Saturday. Then, however, running backs did not take the right lanes as runners, either coming too close to quarterback Justin Thomas on pitches our bobbling balls when they did get a pitch in the right place. Fullbacks didn’t block in the correct directions. Nothing went right for a team which won the Orange Bowl last season. It did not look ready to handle the pressure.

Duke also didn’t look ready, but the difference for the Blue Devils is that they did not have a returning quarterback. Thomas Sirk is a new quarterback, and he looked the part against Northwestern. He was intercepted on a simple screen pass in the red zone in the first half. That turnover prevented Duke from expanding a 7-3 lead, and with Northwestern’s offense struggling, that’s exactly what the Wildcats needed. When Northwestern returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown, the Wildcats led without having scored an offensive touchdown. Duke and Sirk could not score a touchdown in the second half themselves, totaling just 10 points for the game. The Blue Devils are going to need to make huge improvements against Georgia Tech.

 

Line Moves
The college football odds for this game started with Georgia Tech being a nine-point favorite, but that line has moved down to 8.5. Georgia Tech is such an unfinished product on offense that bettors don’t trust the Yellow Jackets to be able to pull away against a Duke defense which allowed only one offensive touchdown last week against Northwestern. Bettors expect Duke’s defense to keep the Devils in the game.

 

Notable Injuries
The Yellow Jackets have backup quarterback (and possible backup running back) Tim Byerly out with a leg injury. Running back Quaide Weimerskirch is out indefinitely with a foot injury.

The Blue Devils have cornerback Bryon Fields out for the season with an ACL injury. Running back Jela Duncan is out indefinitely with a pectoral injury. Linebacker Kelby Brown is out for the season with an ACL injury. Linebacker Chris Holmes is questionable with a leg injury. Offensive lineman Cody Robinson is questionable for undisclosed reasons.

Handicapping The Game
The Duke defense might be very good, but the offense looked paralyzed against Northwestern. Expect Georgia Tech to make the adjustments it needs to make. The same can’t be said for Duke, given Sirk’s inexperience at quarterback. Take the Yellow Jackets with your college football picks.

Pick: Georgia Tech -8.5 at Will Hill