Coming off of back-to-back victories over Syracuse and Virginia, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are set to face off the with Pitt Panthers in Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday night. Let’s take a look at what’s on tap.
Georgia Tech Offense vs. Pittsburgh Defense
The Pittsburgh defense is a superior unit to their offense, and that makes this the “side to watch”. Pitt is 33rd in the nation in total defense this season, allowing 366.9 yards per game, but that hasn’t always translated into success on the scoreboard, as opponents are tallying 27.6 points per game against the Panthers.
Pitt is middle-of-the pack nationally against the run, but those numbers are likely skewed a bit after allowing 220 yards last week in their loss to Navy. With that said, Navy hasn’t even been quite as dominant on the ground as Tech has this season (about 20 yards less per game against softer competition), and Pitt hasn’t seen anything like this attack.
Vad Lee and Justin Thomas combined to throw 2 interceptions in only 9 pass attempts last week (eesh), but the ground game flourished behind Zach Laskey (133 yards), David Sims (107 yards and 2 TDs) and Robert Godhigh (111 yards on only 5 carries). Every game is its own entity, especially at this point in the season, but it would be helpful to support the option attack against a pass-vulnerable team like Pitt.
Georgia Tech Defense vs. Pittsburgh Offense
On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh’s offense is nothing short of mediocre. They fail to rank in the top-70 in passing yardage, rushing yardage, or points per game, and while they aren’t dreadful in any facet, it’s not an explosive unit. Quarterback Tom Savage is relatively famous thanks to his recruitment, but he has only completed 59% of his passes this season, and the running game isn’t much better.
Isaac Bennett is the biggest “player to watch” for the Pitt offense, and the junior running back is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 99 totes this season. Fortunately, the Jackets have been fairly stout against the run this year (only 117 yards per game), and I’d expect to see the Tech defense make Savage and company beat them through the air.
At 4-2 in the ACC (5-3 overall), the Jackets are firmly in line for a bowl bid this season (continuing their infamous streak), but they desperately need a home victory here to assure one. Only Alabama A&M remains on the schedule as a game in which Tech will be favored (a trip to Clemson and a home game with Georgia seem like definite underdog spots), and a 6th win would go a long way for Paul Johnson’s safety.
Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will open on Saturday morning.