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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Louisville Cardinals Prediction and Preview

Louisville Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino

Louisville Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino

Both the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Louisville Cardinals sit at 2-3 and 0-2 in the ACC ahead of their Friday night meeting in Cardinal Stadium.

However, the Yellow Jackets enter with more momentum, coming off of a 63-17 victory over Bowling Green in which they piled up 372 rushing yards. On the other side, the Cardinals lost a heartbreaker at home to Florida State. The Seminoles won 28-24 as Louisville let a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away.

Believe or not, this will be the first-ever meeting between these two schools even though they have been members of the same conference since 2014.

Georgia Tech at Louisville

Kickoff: Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Georgia Tech -4.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Yellow Jackets' triple option

Friday will be the first time Louisville has played against Georgia Tech's trademark triple-option attack. If the Cardinals' performance against the run to this point is any indication of what to expect, Louisville's defense could be in for a long night.

The Cardinals enter this game ranked 83rd in the nation in rushing defense, allowing an average of 168.8 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets are second in the nation with 339.2 rushing yards per game. That is not a good combination for Louisville.

Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall is more of a runner than a passer, so don't be surprised if he puts his legs to work early and often against the Cardinals. Even if Louisville is successful in limiting Marshall on the ground, the Yellow Jackets don't lack for option when it comes to ball carriers.

2. Jawon Pass

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Last week against Florida State, Pass continued what has become a trend early this season by putting forth another up-and-down performance against the Seminoles. The positive was that he threw for a season-high 306 yards with two touchdowns. The negative is that he tossed two interceptions and completed 24 of 45 attempts (53.3 percent). For the season, Pass is completing less than 52 percent of his passes and has more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (four).

If Pass struggles, don't be surprised to see Malik Cunningham enter the game. Cunningham, a freshman, has been a little more successful as a passer (64.7 percent completion rate) and Pass' ineffectiveness have led to increased playing time. Unfortunately, whoever is under center could be in for a tough time as Georgia Tech enter this game fifth in the ACC in passing defense at 207.0 yards per game allowed and has already recorded seven interceptions.

3. Coaching
The hot topic in Louisville this week has been head coach Bobby Petrino and his decision that arguably cost the Cardinals a victory. Leading 24-21 late in the fourth quarter, Louisville had the ball just outside of the red zone after converting on 3rd-and-2. Then on the next play, instead of trying to take more time off of the clock by running the ball, Petrino called for a pass, which was intercepted. Five plays later, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois connected with Nyqwan Murray for a 58-yard touchdown pass that ended up being the game winner.

Now at 2-3, Petrino and the Cardinals seemingly face a must-win situation at home if they want to keep their hopes of going to a bowl game alive.

"Obviously I never thought we would be in this situation," Petrino said earlier this week. "You got to work at it, fight through it, improve, have a good attitude and get better."

The coaching seat of Petrino's counterpart, Paul Johnson, doesn't seem to be as warm even though his team has the same record. The reality is that the loser of this game will reach the midpoint of the season with an uncomfortable 2-4 mark, including 0-3 in ACC play.

Final Analysis

While Louisville is at home and it should be a loud crowd on Friday night, Georgia Tech appears to have the advantage in all three phases of the game. Yellow Jackets QB TaQuon Marshall will give the Cardinals problems not only with his legs but with his arm. The defense also will have to watch out for Tobias Oliver, who ran for 115 yards last week against Bowling Green.

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It could be a long for night a Louisville defense that has had issues stopping the run this season.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 31, Louisville 23

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.