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Virginia Cavaliers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Prediction and Preview

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Prediction and Preview

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Prediction and Preview

When Virginia and Georgia Tech face off on Saturday afternoon this much is clear: the loser can forget about winning the ACC Coastal Division and playing in Charlotte on Dec. 1. Both the Cavaliers (7-3, 4-2 ACC) and Yellow Jackets (6-4, 4-3) are already bowl eligible, but both are also staring up at Pittsburgh in the Coastal standings and have each lost to the Panthers. With Pitt a win away from clinching the division, this game between Virginia and Georgia Tech will serve as an elimination contest.

The Yellow Jackets come into this winners of three in a row and five of their last six. Last week's 27-21 victory over Miami made the Georgia Tech bowl eligible for the ninth time in head coach Paul Johnson's 12 seasons at the school. The Cavaliers also got back on the winning track last week, defeating Liberty 45-24. Bronco Mendenhall's Cavaliers are headed back to a bowl for the second straight season and will end their regular season next Friday against archrival Virginia Tech.

Georgia Tech leads the all-time series over Virginia 20-19-1. However, the Cavaliers defeated the Yellow Jackets 40-36 last season.

Virginia at Georgia Tech

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Georgia Tech -6.5

Three Things to Watch

1. TaQuon Marshall
Against Miami, one of the nation's best defenses, the Yellow Jackets were able to come away with a six-point victory last week. Marshall was at center of Georgia Tech's offensive attack, as the dual-threat quarterback ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns and also threw for 73 yards and a score against the Hurricanes.

This weekend, Marshall will face a Cavaliers defense that isn't nearly as good as what he faced a week ago. Liberty was able to run for 205 yards against Virginia, and two weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Panthers piled up 254 yards on the ground against the Cavaliers.

If Marshall can avoid turnovers, he and the Georgia Tech offense should be able to gain yardage on the ground.

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2. Cavaliers' receivers

While quarterback Bryce Perkins has been a massive addition to the Cavaliers, Olamide Zaccheaus and the receiving corps is arguably the backbone of their offense. Zaccheaus once again showed that last weekend against Liberty, finishing with seven receptions for 86 yards.

While Zacchaeus is the Cavaliers' leading receiver this season, junior wide receiver Joe Reed had a breakout game against the Flames. Reed recorded two touchdowns against Liberty last Saturday and added another 90-yard kickoff return touchdown on the first play of the second half. Against Georgia Tech this week, Virginia will need Zaccheaus, Reed and the rest of the receiving corps to have big games.

3. Georgia Tech defensive end Anree Saint-Amour
Quietly, Anree Saint-Amour has been one of the better defenders in the ACC in 2018. He leads the team in sacks (four), tackles for a loss (10.5) and quarterback hurries (eight).

Saint-Amour also has two interceptions and three forced fumbles in 10 games. Virginia and Perkins will need to be aware of where Saint-Amour is at all times. Not only is Saint-Amour excellent at defending the run, but he is also great at deflecting passes and pressuring the quarterback.

Final Analysis

Georgia Tech and Virginia usually have competitive matchups, and Saturday shouldn't be any different. The game will come down to which defense can make stops, and the advantage seems to be with the Yellow Jackets in that department.

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Virginia's defense hasn't played well the last two weeks against Pittsburgh and Liberty, giving up more than 200 rushing yards in both games. That doesn't bode well against a Yellow Jackets team that has a three-headed rushing attack in Marshall, Tobias Oliver and Jordan Mason.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 34, Virginia 28

— 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.