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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview and Prediction

Joseph Yearby

Joseph Yearby

After their embarrassing 59-21 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels last weekend, the Miami Hurricanes will return to Sun Life Stadium for the final time this season as they will take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

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In its last game, Georgia Tech (3-7) lost at home to the Virginia Tech Hokies 23-21. The loss will likely end the Yellow Jackets' streak of 18 consecutive bowl appearances.

Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 11-9 over Miami (6-4), but the Hurricanes have a 4-2 record in games played at home and they have never lost to the Yellow Jackets at Sun Life Stadium (3-0).

The Hurricanes have won five of the last six matchups against the Yellow Jackets dating back to 2009, including five straight from 2009-13. Miami lost to Georgia Tech last season, 28-17 in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech at Miami

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ACC Network/ESPN3

Spread: Even

Three Things to Watch

1. Hurricanes’ offense

Last week against North Carolina, Miami quarterback Brady Kaaya was 24-of-43 for 326 yards and he finished with a touchdown pass and an interception. If the Hurricanes want to defeat the Yellow Jackets, Kaaya will need help from Joseph Yearby and the rest of the Hurricane offense.

Yearby hasn’t rushed for over 100 yards since Miami’s 34-23 loss to Cincinnati on Oct.1. Some of that has to do with the Hurricanes being down in a number of games, but the team’s offensive line hasn't played particularly well.

“The running game has been kind of spotty for us," Miami interim head coach Larry Scott said. "We are constantly addressing and trying to find the runs and surfaces where we can attack. The bottom line is to stay consistent and continuing to drive home the point to the guys up front that we are going to stick with it." 

Georgia Tech gives up an average of 171.1 yards per game, so Miami should have some opportunities to try and exploit the Yellow Jackets' weak rushing defense.

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2. Justin Thomas

The key to the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense is quarterback Justin Thomas. In his last two games since Georgia Tech’s upset victory over Florida State, Thomas hasn’t been rushing the ball well.

Thomas has a combined 70 yards on 25 carries and zero touchdowns in his last two games. Miami’s defense gives up an average of 202.7 rushing yards per game, so Georgia Tech should have its opportunities to run against them.

Scott knows how important it is for the Hurricanes defense to stay disciplined on Saturday. 

“The option is such an assignment and alignment deal," Scott said. "When you know the option is coming, it’s about alignment and assignment football. There are not four verticals to defend, as well. There are not the pass concepts with posts, wheels and digs that you have to defend. When you can focus on assignment, alignment and details, it changes the whole dynamic."

3. Penalties

Miami and Georgia Tech couldn’t be any more different when it comes to hurting themselves with penalties. The Hurricanes are the nation’s most penalized team as they average 9.6 penalties per game. Miami’s 12 penalties for 103 yards helped North Carolina score on two separate drives last week.

Georgia Tech, on the other hand is the most disciplined team in the FBS as it only average 3.5 penalties and 31.1 penalty yards per game.

The Hurricanes aren’t good enough to overcome 10 or more penalties against anyone in the FBS, especially a conference opponent. They will have to cut down on the mistakes on Saturday.

Final Analysis

Miami has enough weapons on offense to defeat Georgia Tech, but its defense is what will likely keep Georgia Tech in the game. The Hurricanes gave up 7.2 yards per play, along with 206 total yards and four touchdowns to North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams.

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With a young offense and a number of injuries, it has been hard for Georgia Tech to persevere leads late in games. The Yellow Jackets held fourth quarter leads to both Virginia Tech and North Carolina, only to lose the game.

Expect Georgia Tech to get off to a good start, but Miami’s talent will likely be the difference late in the game.

Prediction: Miami 28, Georgia Tech 21

— 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, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.