Georgia Tech leads all time series (28-19-3)
UNC won last meeting 48-43
UNC (3-1, 0-0 ACC) vs Georgia Tech (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets peaked at 14 in the AP Poll this year after blowing out Alcorn State and Tulane at home, but have since dropped out of the top 25 after losing two straight to #8 Notre Dame and Duke.
On the other hand, Carolina has won three straight at home with an average margin of victory of 33 points after dropping the season opener to South Carolina.
Key Matchup: Georgia Tech Run Offense vs Carolina Run Defense
In last year’s match up, the Yellow Jackets ran for 376 yards on 51 attempts.
This year, the Yellow Jackets feature the #6 ranked rushing attack in the nation with 326 rushing yards per game. Led by Patrick Skov and Justin Thomas, 13 different Yellow Jackets have run the ball this year and 10 have scored
However, these stats are largely because of two opening season blowouts. In the past two games, Skov and Thomas have accounted for 70% of the carries and they are the only rushers to score a touchdown with one each.
The Tar Heel passing defense has improved greatly over last year, but problems still remain for the run defense.
Carolina is last in the ACC in rushing defense so far this year (228.8 YPG), only 4 yards better than last year. As mentioned before, the Georgia Tech run offense is one of the best in the nation.
Stopping the Yellow Jacket run game will not be possible, but Carolina will need its defensive line to step up and make some plays if they want to win this game.
Containing Tech’s rushing attack and forcing them to pass will play to the heels strength with their improved secondary.
Situation to Watch: Carolina Quarterbacks
Georgia Tech has the second worst passing offense in the ACC this year. To put things in perspective, Mitch Trubisky threw for 151 yards less in last game ALONE than Georgia Tech has thrown for in all four games this year.
Speaking of Trubisky, it will be interesting to see what Coach Fedora does if Senior Marquise Williams struggles early on. Last week, Trubisky came on for the struggling Williams and was 17-20 for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns for a UNC record 282.04 pass efficiency rating. Despite Trubisky’s impressive performance, Coach Fedora has maintained that Williams is the starting quarterback.
Williams offers more of a dual threat style, although Trubisky has shown he has the ability to run the ball effectively. Williams’ veteran experience should help him on the road against a decent Georgia Tech defense. Williams racked up 463 all-purpose yards and accounted for 5 touchdowns (4 pass, 1 rush) against the Yellow Jackets last year.
This year Williams has racked up over 700 passing yards and almost 200 rushing yards to go along with 8 total touchdowns in 4 games.
Wildcard Factor: Carolina Pass Defense
Georgia Tech should run the ball effectively on the heels just like last year, and Carolina should be able to continue putting up points like they have.
Carolina was able to win last year despite giving up 235 passing yards to a team that averaged just 135 yards per game. Carolina also gave up two passing touchdowns of over 45 yards, a commonality for last year’s defense, and still managed to beat the Yellow Jackets.
This year the team has given up 0 passing touchdowns over 45 yards and only two passing touchdowns total. At this time last year Carolina had already given up four touchdowns over 45 yards and 11 total passing touchdowns.
Carolina has largely cut down on the big plays in the passing game, and if they continue to do so against Georgia Tech Saturday, they may be poised to start the year 4-1.
A list of interesting facts that may or may not have anything to do with the outcome:
Georgia Tech’s home record against ACC opponents over the past 4 years is 12-4.
Last year the Yellow Jackets lost to Duke right before losing to the heels.
Last year Marquise Williams surpassed a Quarterback Rating of 80 only twice. He has already matched that total this year.