- In the first-ever meeting between the two programs, Georgia Tech is a road favorite at Louisville. Do the Cardinals have a chance against the Yellow Jackets' triple option?
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-3.5) at Louisville Cardinals
Fri. 10/5, 7:00 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Georgia Tech-Louisville:
1. This is the first-ever meeting between Georgia Tech and Louisville, which, if anything, gives the Yellow Jackets an advantage on Friday. That’s because the Cardinals are going to be preparing for a triple-option offense for the first time in over a decade. Fortunately for head coach Bobby Petrino, his lone season with Western Kentucky in 2013 featured games against Army and Navy, which both run the triple option. That means that Petrino can do his best to prepare his team, but the issue is that Georgia Tech brings a different element than either of those programs. While Army and Navy both run the offense effectively, Georgia Tech has the luxury of rolling out ACC-level athletes.
2. Moving a bit beyond the fact that Louisville is unfamiliar with the triple-option offense, there’s also the simple fact that the Cardinals haven’t been great against the run this season in general. Louisville is allowing 168.8 rushing yards per game on the year, which firmly entrenches it in the bottom half of rushing defenses in the nation. Going up against a Georgia Tech team that rushes for 339.2 yards per game (second in FBS) could be an issue. The bottom line is that the Yellow Jackets’ attack should be able to wear out the Cardinals defensive line by the start of the second half. At that point, look for star quarterback TaQuon Marshall to really have his way with Louisville’s defense. Marshall is an electric open-field runner, but he also is the rare triple-option quarterback that is capable of making plays with his arm. He’s not going to throw it often, but he can harm the Cardinals when he does. And backs Jordan Mason, Tobias Oliver, Qua Searcy, Nathan Cottrell and Jerry Howard will all get their opportunities as well.
3. On the offensive side of the ball, Louisville has even more issues. However, the biggest one is that there is a lot of uncertainty under center for the first time in a while. With Lamar Jackson now on the Baltimore Ravens, both Jawon Pass and Malik Cunningham have gotten their chances in what has always been a quarterback-friendly system. But both players have struggled mightily this year. Pass is the one that will be under center on Friday, but he is coming off of a game in which he completed only 53.3% of his passes and also threw two picks against a Florida State defense that is beatable through the air. The Seminoles are allowing 284.4 passing yards per game, which is a heck of a lot more than the 206.0 yards per game that Tech is allowing. That means that this could be yet another long game for Pass, who doesn’t have a strong running game behind him either.
Pick: Georgia Tech -3.5
Confidence level: Very High