ACC College Football Picks ATS: Pittsburgh Panthers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Justin Thomas may be long gone, but the Yellow Jackets are carrying his style of offense on in 2017.

Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech
Time: 11:20 AM CT, Saturday
Spread: GAT -8.5
Total: 55

Odds c/o 5dimes

Georgia Tech is 1-1 on the season and it dodged a week 3 matchup against UCF due to Hurricane Irma. The Yellow Jackets lost a heartbreaker in Week 1 to the Tennessee Volunteers, before demolishing lowly Jacksonville State in a Week 2 schedule win. It opens ACC play this week by hosting Pittsburgh at 11:20 AM (Central time), and Tech will be 8.5-point favorites against the Panthers in a game with an over/under set at 55 total points.

Georgia Tech’s loss to Tennessee really took the wind out of the sails in what was looking like a potentially major upset. The Yellow Jackets led by 14-points into the second half, but Tennessee stopped a 2-point conversion in the second overtime which sealed up the astounding victory. It was a game high in scoring and excitement, Georgia Tech going absolutely nuts with its rush attack.

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The Yellow Jackets racked up 535 rushing yards, as TaQuon Mitchell pretty much put on the show of his life. Mitchell finished with 249 yards on 44 carries, while hitting the end zone five times. The quarterback barely had to resort to throwing the ball, but still somehow had 120 passing yards on a mere five completions. If Georgia Tech is to sustain this type of offensive dominance, it could lead to a major turnaround—or upswing—for the program.

Marshall is clearly the reason behind its dominance, but it was not as though he did it without any help: KirVonte Benson had 124 rushing yards, Nathan Cottrell had 79, and four other Yellow Jackets combined for the remaining 83 rushing yards as the team continued to break through the defense and average 6.2 yards per rush attempt. Georgia Tech’s defense was also fairly stingy and effective as it held Vols’ starting quarterback Quinten Dormady to just 20 of 37 passing.

Tennessee probably should have taken to the rush more often, given that it averaged 6.7 on its mere 22 total carries. Poor coaching or not, Georgia Tech had to stomach a loss in a week which pretty much saw it out play—but not out-execute—an AP ranked opponent. In a sport where execution is everything, however, Georgia Tech will hope to get its defensive stops when it counts this week against the Panthers.

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Pitt is off to a rougher start this season, but it has a trying schedule to blame for its struggles. After escaping Week 1 with a 28-21 victory over Youngstown State it had to face two AP ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks. Week 2 saw the Panthers fall 33-14 to Penn State, while Week 3 brought yet another top-10 opponent in Oklahoma State, and the Panthers had no answers for OK State’s offense in giving up 59 points in the loss.

Defensive questions linger heavily for Pittsburgh at this point, and Georgia Tech’s assemblage of rushers must be salivating at the Panthers’ inability to control opposing offenses. That said, Oklahoma State is a passing team and destroyed Pitt with 572 rushing yards. That is not to say the rush defense was outstanding necessarily either, given that the Cowboy’s No. 1 back Justice Hill was nearly unstoppable on his 11 carries—two of which resulted in touchdowns, and he tallied 8.3 yards per carry in a game that really was mostly passes for OK State anyway.

All of these things really point to Georgia Tech having its way on the offensive end, and while the Yellow Jackets are hardly a defensive powerhouse, Pitt has not been much offensively against FBS team thus far, either. Averaging just 17.5 points per game over its past two, expect Pitt to fall by at least two touchdowns as Georgia Tech wins and covers the spread while doing so.

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