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JOL Preview: GT-Duke

Duke and David Cutcliffe have had Georgia Tech's number the last few years and the two ACC Coastal teams meet up again on Saturday aiming to get a backdoor bowl bid. We take a look at the matchup.

Jordan Mason tries to break a tackle against Duke
Jordan Mason tries to break a tackle against Duke (James Guillory/USAToday)

Duke (2-6, 1-6 in ACC) at Georgia Tech (2-5, 2-4 ACC)

Date and Time: Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV: ACC RSN (Fox Sports South), FoxSportsGo.com/WatchESPN.com (out-of-market)

Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan/Sirius 106/ XM 194

Last Game: Georgia Tech lost 31-13 vs. Notre Dame (Oct. 31); Duke lost 56-24 vs. North Carolina (Nov. 7)

Series History: Georgia Tech leads 51-35-1

Last Meeting: Duke won 41-23 at Duke on Oct. 12, 2019

Stat Comparison: Points per game (Georgia Tech 21.4, Duke 25.6), Points allowed per game (Georgia Tech 39.7, Duke 32.4), Total offense (Georgia Tech 373.7 yards per game, Duke 402.6 yards per game), Total defense (Georgia Tech 471.6 yards per game, Duke 415.5 yards per game)

GEORGIA TECH Key Offensive Players: Jeff Sims (QB, Fr.), Jahmyr Gibbs (RB, Fr.), Zach Quinney (LT, RS-Jr.)

DUKE Key Offensive Players: Mataeo Durant (RB, Jr.), Chase Brice (QB, RS-Jr.), Devery Hamilton (RT, RS-Sr.)

GEORGIA TECH Key Defensive Players: Jordan Domineck (DE, RS-Soph.), Quez Jackson (LB, Jr.), Zamari Walton (CB, RS-Soph.)

DUKE Key Defensive Players: Shaka Heyward (LB, RS-Soph.), Chris Rumph II (DE, RS-Jr), Victor Dimukeje (DE, Sr.)

Game Preview Analysis: Well, if nothing else, you can definitely say the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are well-rested going into Saturday’s home contest against Duke. It seems like forever since the Jackets took the field, and in the context of a football season, it really has been with nearly a month between game action as they last played on Oct. 31 against Notre Dame. Following that one, Georgia Tech had their scheduled off week on Nov. 7 followed by two Covid-related postponements (Nov. 14 vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 21 at Miami).

Duke has also had their share of downtime with their last contest coming on Nov. 7 against rival North Carolina. They had their scheduled off week Nov. 14 followed by the cancellation of their Nov. 21 home contest against Wake Forest. So both teams should be eager be back on the field on Saturday to say the least.

As far as the game itself, it is one Georgia Tech needs badly. There hasn’t been much positive on either side of the ball since the win over Louisville in early October. The Jackets’ defense has been inconsistent at best, and the offense has been unable to build on some solid early-season performances with turnovers and lack of execution hurting them badly.

The Jackets’ offense must use the running game early on to get some successful drives put together. Starting slow has been a problem for Georgia Tech’s offense, putting them in a hole in several games that they can’t seem to dig out of in the second half. Duke’s defense while vulnerable at times has shown the ability to get after the passer led by defensive ends Chris Rumph II and Victory Dimukeje, who have combined for 15 sacks on the year. Tech establishing the running game early on with a deep stable of running backs ready to go is a must to keep those guys from being able to pin their ears back and get after Jeff Sims. And when it does come to passing downs, Tech’s starting tackles (Zach Quinney and Jordan Williams) must have “A” games to keep those strong pass rushers away from the Tech freshman starting QB.

Georgia Tech’s defense will have a tough task on their hands as well as Duke has shown the ability to put up some big yardage totals this season. Despite their record being what it is, the Blue Devils’ offense has shown the ability to run the ball well at times with the combo of Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant combining for 1,100-plus yards and 10 touchdowns. Unfortunately for Duke’s running game, falling behind in several games big has forced Clemson transfer Chase Brice and the passing game to have to force a lot of throws down the field. If Tech can get an early lead, Duke has shown the ability to turn the ball over at a high rate with Brice tossing 12 interceptions so far in 2020.

This is another opportunity for Georgia Tech to show how far they have come from Year 1 under Geoff Collins to late in Year 2. Duke has won the last three in the series, including a not-so-competitive game last October, so the Jackets’ players, especially the upper classmen definitely want to get that monkey off their back.

Tech has shown up and played well in night games at Bobby Dodd Stadium in the last several years, and this one should continue that trend. Jackets’ fans should head into December happy, and the team should take momentum into the final stretch of 2020.

Prediction: Georgia Tech wins, 39-30.