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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Virginia Cavaliers Preview and Prediction

Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas

There’s no way the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets can top their victory from last weekend. With no time remaining on the clock, Georgia Tech’s Lance Austin picked up a blocked 56-yard field goal attempt by Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo and went 78-yards for the game-winning touchdown to upset the Seminoles 22-16.

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This week, the Yellow Jackets (3-5) will visit Charlottesville to take ACC Coastal rival, the Virginia Cavaliers (2-5), who will be looking to rebound from a conference loss a week ago. The North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Cavaliers 26-13 behind five second-half turnovers by Virginia.

Georgia Tech leads the all-time series against Virginia 19-17-1. In their matchup last season, the Yellow Jackets defeated the Cavaliers 35-10 behind three touchdown passes from Justin Thomas.

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Georgia Tech at Virginia

Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Georgia Tech -6

Three Things to Watch

1. Yellow Jackets’ rushing attack

While Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas won’t hurt many teams with his throwing ability, he is a huge threat when he runs the football. In eight games this season, Thomas has rushed for 400 yards and six touchdowns, which includes his 88-yard rushing performance against Florida State last weekend.

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The Yellow Jackets also have a running back in Marcus Marshall, who can hurt opposing teams in their triple option offense. The freshman has recorded 508 rushing yards and four touchdowns this season.

Virginia ranks 66th in the country in rushing defense as they give up an average 165.7 yards per contest. So there should be multiple opportunities for Georgia Tech to gain successful yardage running the football. 

2. Play of Matt Johns

Last week against North Carolina, the second-half performance of Virginia quarterback Matt Johns was a major reason that Virginia lost the game. The junior committed four interceptions, lost a fumble and was picked off in the end zone on a fourth-and-goal with less than six minutes left in the game.

In order for Virginia to pull off the upset, Johns will have to take better care of the football. Georgia Tech is 36th in passing yards as they give up an average of 194.8 passing yards per game. So Johns and the Cavaliers will have their hands full on Saturday.

3. Georgia Tech’s defense

Last week against Florida State, Georgia Tech did the unthinkable and slowed down Dalvin Cook and the Seminole offense. The Yellow Jackets held Cook to only 82 rushing yards. Georgia Tech also held Florida State scoreless in the second half and to 16 points overall.

Georgia Tech is still allowing 32 points and 380 yards in ACC games. The Yellow Jackets will need another great performance as they will face Virginia’s Taquan Mizzell.

Not only can Mizzell run the football, he is also a great receiver out of the backfield. The junior has caught 41 receptions and he has 466 receiving yards and three touchdowns on the season. 

Final Analysis

After struggling in their first seven games, Georgia Tech got back on the right track against Florida State last week. Even though they will be on the road, the Yellow Jackets should be able to handle the Cavaliers.

Virginia ranks near the bottom in turnovers per game as they give up an average of 2.42 per game. On the other hand, Georgia Tech's offense only averages 1.7 turnovers per game.

The Cavaliers will likely have to play a mistake-free game in order to defeat the Yellow Jackets. The problem is, the only game where they played nearly error-free was against Notre Dame, a game in which they lost 34-27.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 34, Virginia 17

— 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.