Georgia Tech-Boston College
Time: 7:30 AM – From Dublin, Ireland
Spread: GAT -1.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
Justin Thomas and the Georgia Yellow Jackets fell off last season and managed just three wins, and it is tough to just give all that blame to Thomas necessarily. The senior QB struggled last season due to a lack of passing options, and injuries also played a role for Georgia Tech.
The OL suffered some major blows in the spring when OG Chris Griffin was medically disqualified after having spent a year rehabbing his ACL. The other G, Gary Brown, quit the team. The OL was cycled through in spring trying to find answers, but it still appears to be pretty unresolved (even if it did function marginally better by the end of spring).
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Pass rushing was a major weakness for Georgia Tech last season, and the Yellow Jackets also struggled to force turnovers, finishing with a -7 margin on the season. Georgia Tech had just 14 sacks last season and only nine of those came from the DL.
Georgia Tech was especially vulnerable to short pass attacks, though overall pass coverage was still good for No. 35 in the nation, allowing 202.9 yards per game.
And that is just it: Georgia Tech’s defense was good enough to know it can be better. The Yellow Jackets allowed 25.8 points per game last season but gave up 34 points or more four times, all four of which were losses to conference foes (Duke, North Carolina, Clemson and Miami).
Georgia Tech really suffered an anomalous losing season last year after its stellar 2014 campaign. The Yellow Jackets somehow knocked off Florida State for its only ACC win, by virtue of returning a blocked field goal kick, but the season was otherwise mostly a disaster.
Thomas is a good QB and should not really be judged on the basis of what happened last year, and reasonably he and the Yellow Jackets should return to bowl play this season barring injuries or other unforeseen disasters.
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Boston College struggled badly to put points up last year: The Eagles averaged just 17.2 points per game, ranking No. 120 in the nation, while managing just 275.6 yards per game, which also ranked them near the bottom at No. 125.
Adding Kentucky graduate transfer Patrick Towles could help turn that around. He threw for 2,148 yards in 10 games last season with Kentucky, recording nine TDs and 14 INTs. He will clearly have to improve his accuracy, but OC Scot Loeffler believes he can make Towles into an effective option this season. If he struggles, expect Darius Wade to step in.
In the backfield the Eagles will turn to sophomore RB Jon Hillman. He rushed for 860 yards and 13 TDs in his freshman season in 2014, but he played just four games last season due to a leg injury. He is a strong, physical back, capable of moving the ball and he should ignite this offense a lot after it struggled to get much going on the ground last year when it averaged just 164.4 yards per game.
Last year the Eagles allowed just 15.3 points per game, ranking No. 4 in the nation. Boston College also gave up just 254.3 yards per game, which ranked No. 1 in the nation. Scoring is not easy against Boston College, to say the least.
The DL returns plenty of talent, too. Junior Harold Landry had 4.5 sacks and 60 tackles last season and will be a key fixture, helping offset the loss of Connor Wujciak (graduation). Truman Gutapfel will be crucial towards stopping the run.
Boston College’s defense gives a lot of purists a reason to watch them. They function so well on that end of the ball. Putting some offense with it should help turn around last season’s 3-win campaign, and it is pretty plausible that figure doubles.