Georgia Tech’s 2018 non-conference schedule is nothing to write home about, but it will provide two exciting match-ups for Tech fans. First of all, the match-ups against Alcorn State and Bowling Green are easy wins on the Yellow Jacket’s schedule. The same cannot be said about the South Florida Bulls and Georgia Bulldogs match-ups. South Florida and Georgia will both play a large role in whether or not Georgia Tech returns to a bowl game in 2018.
Finally, it is that time of year to predict Georgia Tech’s non-conference schedule.
Predicting Tech’s Non-Conference Games
Alcorn State Braves
Head Coach: Fred McNair
Conference: Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), FCS
Player(s) to Watch: RB, P.J. Simmons
Game Date: September 1, 2018
The Alcorn State Braves finished the 2017 football season with a 7-5 record and lost to Grambling State in the SWAC Championship Game 40-32. The Braves have become the perennial SWAC east division champions – winning the division the previous four seasons. The Braves will look to continue that trend, and running back P.J. Simmons will look to build on his 2017 campaign (687 yards and 7 touchdowns).
Georgia Tech and Alcorn State last squared off on September 3, 2015, with the Yellow Jackets winning easily, 69-6 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Unfortunately that was one of only three wins for Georgia Tech in all of 2015. In contrast, the Braves would go on to win the SWAC Championship and Jay Hopson would go on to accept the head coaching position at the University of Southern Mississippi.
No Georgia Tech football team has ever lost to an FCS opponent. Therefore, Georgia Tech fans should enter this game with a high degree of confidence. This writer does not see that trend changing in 2018. Georgia Tech’s offense is too explosive, and the Yellow Jacket’s defense should be flying around the field for Nate Woody and his 3-4 defensive scheme.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech wins their season opener at home in blowout fashion.
University of South Florida Bulls
South Florida had an incredible 2017 season. Their regular season ended in one of the most exciting and heartbreaking college football games in 2017, as they fell to Central Florida. Likewise, the two losses suffered by the Bulls were by a total of 11 points – 28-24 against Houston, and 49-42 to Central Florida.
Quinton Flowers had the type of career Bulls fans will remember for years to come, as will the record books. But that is exactly what South Florida fans will be forced to do this season…remember. Quinton Flowers has gone on to the NFL. Flower’s back-up and the favorite to win the starting quarterback this season, Brett Keans, has been suspended for the first four games for academic reasons.
Because of the suspension the Bulls began their fall camp holding auditions for their starting QB position. The top two candidates were Chris Oladokun and Blake Barnett. On August 23rd Sterlin Gilbert, USF’s offensive coordinator, named Barnett the starting quarterback for week one against Elon. Maybe Bulls fans will get the opportunity to see what Alabama and Arizona State fans missed.
Offensive Coordinator Sterlin Gilbert informed the QBs of his decision this morning.
— CHRIS TORELLO (@TorelloSports) August 23, 2018
The good news for Barnett is that the Bulls are loaded with talent at the wide receiver position with Darnell Salomon and Tyre McCants. They have the skill and depth at the wide receiver and tight end positions to cause trouble for any defense. BUT, South Florida fans will have to wait and see if all of the talent on the offensive side of the ball can lift up their inexperienced quarterback.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech takes advantage of inexperienced QB play and wins a close game on the road.
Bowling Green Falcons
Head Coach: Mike Jinks
Conference: Mid-American Conference (MAC)
Player(s) to Watch: QB, Jarrett Doege; RB, Andrew Clair
Game Date: September 29, 2018
The Falcons and Coach Jinks would love to forget their 2017 season. They finished with a 2-10 record and their defense ranked dead last in the MAC in total defense. The Falcons defense was giving up 500 yards per game (253.2 rushing; 246.0 passing)! Certainly their defense could not possibly get worse.
For that reason, Falcon’s fans are pleading for a return to the glory of their ten win, 2015 season. Even more, two of those wins came against Maryland and Purdue in 2015. The pleading will, most likely, continue in 2018, barring a miracle season.
Because of a strong finish in the 2018 recruiting class, the Falcons are poised to be better than their previous season – which is not saying much. Bowling Green hired Carl Pelini as their new defensive coordinator last December, and they will be looking for a quick turnaround on that side of the ball. Pelini will definitely have his hands full this season.
Falcons fans will quickly learn how much their defense has improved in the offseason as they open the season against the Oregon Ducks. But that is not a fair barometer of a team’s development – a team like Bowling Green that is.
Finally, the Falcons have returning starters at quarterback and running backs. Jarrett Doege and Andrew Clair will look to take lessons learned from their freshmen campaigns and build on those in 2018.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech takes advantage of poor rushing defense and wins by two or three touchdowns.
Clean, Old Fashioned Hate is one of the longest running rivalries in college football. Every November since 1893, fans along I-85 have gathered together to watch the two most celebrated college football teams in Georgia do battle. The 2018 contest is sure to be as exciting as previous iterations as both teams are poised to have exciting seasons.
Paul Johnson’s tenure at Georgia Tech has not seen much success against the Bulldogs. The Yellow Jackets have gone 3-7 since 2008 – Johnson’s first year in Atlanta. Two of those wins have come in the last four seasons as the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have gone back and forth exchanging wins and losses. Because the Yellow Jackets lost at home 38-7 in 2017, they will be looking to return the favor, in Athens, in 2018.
But the Bulldogs no longer “rebuild.” No, they have reached the coveted status of “reloading” every offseason.
Jake Fromm almost had the perfect season in 2017, and he will be looking to return to the college football playoff as the leader of the Bulldogs. Fromm could easily hand the ball off to D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien every play and the Bulldogs would still win enough games to return to Atlanta in December. Luckily for him, he also has Terry Godwin and Isaac Nauta to pass to when the stable of running backs tire. It will be interesting to see how far Tech’s new 3-4 scheme has developed come November.
Georgia’s defense is only returning four starters, but the way they have recruited over the past several seasons is offering Georgia an opportunity to be as dominant as they were in 2017. Also, Jonathan Ledbetter is back to lead a strong defensive front. They will look to make it difficult for Georgia Tech to move the ball on the ground. But as Georgia fans have learned, it only takes one mistake on the defensive side of the ball for Tech to bust out an 80-yard touchdown run.
Certainly November in Athens will be exciting in 2018!
PREDICTION: Tech keeps it closer than 2017’s contest, but Georgia’s talent and depth will prove too much over four quarters. Consequently, Georgia wins by two touchdowns.
The call here is that Georgia Tech will go 3-1 this year versus non-conference opponents. Feel free to leave a comment below with your own predictions.