The First Edition of the Upper North Perspective CFB Predictions
Welcome back after a one week hiatus to The Upper North Perspective, and what a week it is to be back!
It is officially game week and the start of college football season. Yes, that Hawaii-Cal game in Australia was a nice teaser, but this week is the REAL start to college football season. The Yellow Jackets will be kicking off in just four (!!) short days, and we will be full-fledged into football season. What a time to be alive…
Today, I take a look at some preseason predictions for the Yellow Jackets and even provide my look at the college football playoff for this year. As a former coach of mine used to say, there is no sense in prolonging the inevitable. Let’s dive in.
A Look Back at The Fall Camp Preview
I want to take a look back at the things I wanted to watch coming into the fall. I listed those things on FTRS here back in early August. As I said in the preview, I expected Dedrick Mills to push for the starting B-Back job and for us to start the season with a 1A, 1B approach with Mills and Marshall. This is exactly what we are going into the season with, and I am ecstatic about it. The DL has received some consistent positive marks and looks to be improved this year. Our OL seems to be on the right track, and I love what I am hearing about my top linemen to watch, Will Bryan and Shamire Devine.
My other areas of focus were with leadership, chemistry, and the ever important CPJ-isms. From all the reports out of camp, the team has a great group of senior leaders starting with Justin Thomas. The young guys are driven and the team seems to enjoy playing with each other. And when it comes to CPJ-isms, Coach Johnson has had one of the most positive and enthusiastic fall camps I can remember with him here. The optimism is infectious.
Georgia Tech 2016 Schedule Prediction
9/3/2016- Georgia Tech @ Boston College (24-14 GT): The environment and excitement of playing in Ireland causes both teams to start slow. This is a slugfest for the majority of the first three quarters, but the Yellow Jackets break loose in the fourth quarter behind the depth of the A-Backs to seal the game up with a ten point win. 1-0 (1-0)
9/10/16- Mercer @ Georgia Tech (51-10 GT): Both sides of the ball get a chance to flex their muscles as GT is the vastly superior team. There is no hangover from the trip to Ireland, and the backups get a lot of work in the second half allowing the starters to rest for Vandy. 2-0 (1-0)
9/17/16- Vanderbilt @ Georgia Tech (27-17 GT): This one mirrors the Boston College game as both teams are engaged in a slugfest for the majority of the game. The Georgia Tech defense starts to make fans think they are for real in this game as they buckle down for a fairly dominant second half of the game. Justin Thomas breaks a long run in the 4th to provide the cushion the Jackets need to win the game. 3-0 (1-0)
9/22/16- Clemson @ Georgia Tech (38-35 GT): Most people expect offensive fireworks from the get go in this one, but the short turnaround for both teams causes each to get off to a slow start. After a low scoring first half, the offenses show out for the final two quarters. Deshaun Watson leads Clemson to a late fourth quarter score to tie the game at 35, but Justin Thomas delivers a clutch drive to get Harrison Butker into field goal range. Harrison kicks a game winner to get the Jackets the upset victory. 4-0 (2-0)
10/1/16- Miami @ Georgia Tech (28-24 GT): I went back and forth on this one multiple times, but I think the Jackets are able to continue to ride the high of the upset victory to a win over Miami. Miami comes into this game undefeated and jumps up quickly 14-0 on GT in the first quarter. The Jackets defense shows their continued improvement by stepping up and only allowing ten points the rest of the way. The B-Back tandem of Mills and Marshall find their groove, and Mills uses this game as his big breakout performance. Mills leads the comeback for the Jackets en route to putting the ACC on notice. 5-0 (3-0)
10/8/16- Georgia Tech @ Pittsburgh (27-14 Pitt): The emotional high the team has been on finally runs out in Pittsburgh. The first true ACC road game (and a dreaded week of the season) is too much to overcome for the Jackets as the team shows up flat. Pitt pounds the ball all game long, and after going up early, they never look back as the GT offense turns the ball over three times. As much as I hate to say it since I am traveling to this game, this will be the first loss on the season. 5-1 (3-1)
10/15/16- Georgia Southern @ Georgia Tech (41-17 GT): Justin Thomas and the offense come back home to Atlanta in bad moods and take it out on Georgia Southern. The offense keeps the pedal to the metal all game long and does not let up until the subs come in for the fourth quarter. The defense continues their impressive season with a dominant performance against the Eagles. Georgia Southern gets a late TD in the fourth to make the score look slightly better. 6-1 (3-1)
10/29/16- Duke @ Georgia Tech (38-21 GT): After a bye week, the Yellow Jackets come back rested and ready to go. After multiple years of frustration against Duke, Paul Johnson has the team ready to avenge those losses. The offense and defense perform well early and often, and with no Jeremy Cash on the field, Justin Thomas has a prolific (for our offense) passing day to put away the Blue Devils. 7-1 (4-1)
11/5/16- Georgia Tech @ North Carolina (35-31 UNC): This sets up as a major early November showdown in the Coastal division as both teams are very much alive in the race. The defense takes a step back trying to stop this dynamic North Carolina offense lead by Mitch Trubisky and Elijah Hood. This game goes back and forth with the offenses in control and ends up being eerily reminiscent of the 2014 game in Chapel Hill. A score on the last possession of the game gives North Carolina the victory. 7-2 (4-2)
11/12/16- Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech (21-17 GT): When I first outlined my picks for this season, I had this one marked down as a loss. Then, I started typing out the flow of the season, and I do not know what took over. It could be heart, head, gut, or logic, but I felt better and better about the Jackets chances here. Virginia Tech spends the majority of the year getting uneven performances out of the team. GT knows coming into this one that Duke pulled off the upset over North Carolina on Thursday night. Tech is once again back in the thick of the conference race. This ends up being another classic Paul Johnson/Bud Foster chess match, and the 2014 juju comes alive to deliver a clutch GT drive late in the game closing out with a Justin Thomas to Ricky Jeune TD for the win. North 8-2 (5-2)
11/19/16- Virginia @ Georgia Tech (38-10 GT): Virginia, at this point in the year, is finally finding an identity instilled with the Bronco Mendenhall toughness after an upset over Miami the week before. Making the trip to Atlanta helps them to lose it again. Combined with Miami’s loss to UVA, Clemson defeats Pitt on the prior weekend to put the Jackets in sole possession of first place in the division. A win here locks up the division. Justin Thomas has a career day on senior day for his last hurrah on the Flats. I am talking 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. The Jackets run away with this one early and lock up the Coastal division. 9-2 (6-2)
11/26/16- Georgia Tech @ Georgia (31-21 GT): Yes, they have the talent. Yes, they have the running backs. Yes, they are Georgia, but none of that matters this year. Jacob Eason’s up and down freshman season as the starter for Georgia hits another down as he struggles mightily against the Jackets and AJ Gray. They get strong numbers here from Chubb and company, but they cannot undo AJ Gray’s career day. AJ gets in Eason’s head early with an opening possession interception and gets an additional pick on the day for good measure. The combo of Mills and Marshall pound the rock like Laskey and Days to wear down the UGA defense that never seems to find an answer against the Jackets. Georgia Tech wins this one with a complete game performance from both sides of the ball. 10-2 (6-2)
12/3/16- ACC Championship- Georgia Tech – Clemson (31-27 Clemson): It’s a rematch from the late September matchup on the Flats. Clemson ran the table the rest of the way seemingly waking up after the defeat at the hands of the Jackets. There is a little bit more defense since there is some familiarity between the two teams going into it, but it slowly becomes the Justin Thomas and Deshaun Watson show yet again. At the end of the day, Clemson gets the clutch drive from Watson when it is needed and becomes the ACC Champions on the way to the CFB Playoff. 10-3
With Clemson finishing the year 12-1 and FSU finishing at 11-1, both teams (2 from the ACC!) are selected for the playoff. This leaves Georgia Tech and Louisville in position for the Orange Bowl spot. Georgia Tech goes to the……
12/30/16- Orange Bowl- Georgia Tech – Notre Dame (30-24 GT): This is one that GT fans will look forward to. This is a game against the Irish in the Orange Bowl. The Jackets will be able to avenge the loss that started the skid in 2015, and they do just that here. On a national stage, Justin Thomas puts on a second half show legendary enough that the Orange Bowl committee considers renaming the entire bowl game after him considering his performances here. The Jackets effectively put an end to the horror that was 2015 with a signature victory over Notre Dame. 11-3
Justin Thomas ends the year as the offensive MVP, and AJ Gray takes home the defensive award. The top newcomers on the team are Dedrick Mills and Brandon Adams, and the biggest surprise is Ricky Jeune with a big step up in his junior season. With the aforementioned, Freddie Burden, Will Bryan, Shamire Devine, and Brant Mitchell find themselves on various All ACC teams.
Meanwhile in the rest of the country….
SEC Championship: LSU over Florida
Big Ten Championship: Ohio State over Iowa
Pac 12 Championship: USC over Washington
Big 12 Roundrobin: TCU runs the table to a 12-0 regular season.
Heisman: Deshaun Watson, CLEM
Ohio State snubbed at the 5 spot in the CFB playoff with two losses after another late season loss.
National Semifinal- Peach Bowl: #2 Clemson (12-1) over #3 LSU (11-2)
National Semifinal- Fiesta Bowl: #1 TCU (12-0) over #4 Florida State (11-1)
National Championship: #1 TCU over #2 Clemson