Gasparilla Bowl Preview: Georgia Tech vs. UCF Prediction

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Gasparilla Bowl Preview: Georgia Tech vs. UCF

On Friday, December 22nd, college football bowl game action rolls on with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets facing the UCF Knights in the Gasparilla Bowl at 6:30 pm ET at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. 

 

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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. UCF Knights (-4.5, 65) – Friday, December 22 at 6:30 pm ET

Odds as of 12/18, 10:30 a.m. PT

These teams are both going to be missing at least one key player on defense in this game. Georgia Tech lost EDGE Kyle Kennard and cornerback Kenan Johnson to the transfer portal. Kennard’s absence will likely be a big factor in this one, as he led the team with six sacks this season. Nobody else on the team had more than 2.5, so the Yellow Jackets might be lacking in the pass rushing department. Meanwhile, UCF cornerback Corey Thornton is out for this game. He led the Knights in passes defended and tied for the most interceptions (3) on the team. All three of those players being out makes it more likely that the Over will hit, and that’s the way I was leaning before learning anything about those absences. 

It’s just hard to put into words how explosive both of these offenses can be. This season, UCF was 21st in the nation in EPA per play, ranking 10th on the ground and 30th when dropping back. Senior quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is electric as a dual-threat signal caller, as he threw for 2,073 yards with 13 touchdowns and only eight picks and also rushed for 473 yards and five scores this year. Plumlee also happened to do all that over what was really eight games played. Don’t be surprised if he puts up some big numbers against a Georgia Tech defense that was outside the top 100 in EPA per play against both the run and the pass — and was just 122nd in the nation overall. This should also be a huge game for RJ Harvey, who rushed for 1,296 yards with 16 touchdowns this year. 

The Yellow Jackets should also get a massive performance out of quarterback Haynes King. The Texas A&M transfer absolutely lit it up for Georgia Tech this season, throwing for 2,755 yards with 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He was also great with his legs, rushing for 648 yards with nine scores. King was a big part of the reason that Georgia Tech was 39th in the nation in EPA per play and averaged 31.2 points per game. UCF wasn’t terrible against the pass this year, but I still expect King to pick apart the Knights — especially with Thornton out. But Georgia Tech should also shred UCF on the ground, as the Knights were just 126th in EPA per play on the ground. They couldn’t stop anyone when it came to the running game, so Jamal Haynes and a relatively deep stable of Yellow Jackets backs should eat here. 

Overall, I just don’t see these defenses finding much success, especially with the weather expected to be perfect in this game. The only thing I’m remotely concerned about is the fact that the running games could be so effective that the clock will be running quite a bit. But even still, I think there will be a ton of explosive plays in this game, which should help this very high total cash. The Over was 9-3 in the 12 games the Yellow Jackets played this year, so why go away from it in a meeting with another good offensive team?

Pick: Over 65 

Game Trends from Steve Makinen

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl – Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL​

* UNDERDOGS are 9-3 ATS in L12 GEORGIA TECH bowl games 

Systems Match: Favors GEORGIA TECH