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Advanced Stats Preview: GT vs. BC

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GT vs. BC is somehow shaping up to be a track meet

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Aer Lingus College Football Classic - Georgia Tech v Boston College Photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the first meeting since a thriller in Dublin, Ireland, Georgia Tech travels to Chestnut Hill on Saturday afternoon to take on Boston College. Both teams are coming off of decisive losses, as GT fell 73-7 to Clemson and Virginia Tech took down Boston College 40-14 this past Saturday. On paper, this game is tightly matched and will give both teams a good barometer of where they stand in the ACCs middle class. The consensus Las Vegas point spread has Boston College as a 3 point favorite, which implies a 43% win probability for GT, while Bill Connelly’s SP+ ratings have GT around a 2.5 point underdog with a 46% chance of winning. This is a good test for the progress of the young team and coaching staff on the Flats.

Now that we are 5 games into the 2020 season, we won’t be showing 2019 stats anymore. Comparisons below will feature only year to date 2020 stats. Garbage time plays are excluded.

GT vs. BC Advanced Stats Preview

Metric GT 2020 Boston College 2020
Metric GT 2020 Boston College 2020
Offensive Success Rate 46% 43%
Offensive YPP 5.52 5
Offensive EPA/Play -0.02 0
Offensive YPA (including sacks and scrambles) 7.48 7.5
Offensive 3rd Down Success 39% 48%
Offensive Stuff Rate Allowed 27% 26%
Defensive Success Rate 45% 43%
Defensive YPP 5.78 5.4
Defensive EPA/Play 0.13 0.1
Defensive YPA 7.69 6.6
Defensive 3rd Down Success 48% 43%
Defensive Stuff Rate 18% 18%
Defensive Havoc Rate 15% 16%
*GT numbers come from my play by play charting. Opponent numbers come from @CFB_Data and @statsowar

If the SP+ and Vegas line numbers didn’t convince you, these are two evenly matched teams. In a massive reversal from not too long ago, Boston College is pretty good on offense and subpar on defense. Georgia Tech has been above average in offensive efficiency but below average in overall output because of turnovers and red zone failures, while slightly below average across the board on defense.

When GT Has the Ball

This is a game for Georgia Tech to cement some of its offensive improvements. Boston College has a below average run stuffing defense. Jahmyr Gibbs and company should be able to find consistent success, and I trust Gibbs to hit a big play or two. Boston College is also well below average in creating havoc plays on defense, so Jeff Sims should have time and be able to carefully work through his reads. This is a matchup that Tech should be able to take advantage of. One cause for concern is that it seems likely that GT will be missing Jordan Williams at right tackle, which will disrupt continuity on the already struggling offensive line. Where the Louisville game gave GT a chance to find some explosive plays, this game should be one where GT can methodically and efficiently sustain drives using the run and the pass.

When BC Has the Ball

BC has similar matchup advantages when on offense. Georgia Tech is below average in run stuffs, havoc rate and yards allowed per pass attempt. BC has been considerably better throwing than running, so you can expect Phil Jurkovec, who has been solid but not spectacular in his 5 starts, to put the ball in the air frequently. Boston College’s longest running play for the year is 19 yards, but they have five different receivers who have a 30+ yard reception. If GT starts giving up consistent gashes in the run game to David Bailey and company, it could be a long game. But I would expect the outcome to fall on Jurkovec’s shoulders, and GT must be especially mindful of Zay Flowers in the deep passing game.

Prediction

Before the season, GT looked to be slight favorites at Boston College, but BC has been slightly better and GT slightly worse than expected. I don’t think that either team’s defense is good enough for this to be a blowout either way, but this game could become a track meet. I expect this to be the second game in the CGC tenure where GT exceeds 30 points scored. The question is, will it be another game where we give up more than 30, as we have in 3 out of 5 games so far this year? I like the advantage GT has in the running game to be able to maintain some longer drives and control the game flow. While BC may hit some explosive plays, I think what GT is doing on offense is more sustainable. 35-31 GT.