More non-conference action in Week 2 of the college football season as South Florida makes the trip to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Both teams are coming off of blowout losses to superior opponents. USF was pummeled 49-0 at home against Wisconsin as +10 underdogs while Georgia Tech was throttled 52-14 by defending National Champions Clemson at ‘Death Valley’. Both teams should find the going much easier this week.
USF has the ignominious distinction of being the first team in AP poll history to lose 6 straight games after starting the season 7-0. Georgia Tech was one of the Bulls ‘victims’ last year, losing 49-38 as -3.5 road favorites in Tampa last year. Somehow head coach Charlie Strong was able to survive the meltdown as his staff took the fall for him. Five assistants were sent packing with the biggest name replacement being Kerwin Bell as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
Both teams have games against FCS teams that they ‘should’ win on deck–Georgia Tech hosts The Citadel on September 14 and then has a bye week before they play a tough non-conference game at Temple. USF hosts South Carolina State who is coming off a losing season but might be better than anticipated as they’re coming off a win over Wofford (9-4 LY). They’ll have a bye week as well before they host SMU.
As you’d expect for a team that has now lost 7 straight games, the Bulls have been a disappointing pointspread performer. They enter this contest on a 10-16 run against the spread with a 5-6 ATS run on the road. Georgia Tech is right around breakeven in most pointspread situations though they are 7-5 ATS at home. Georgia Tech is in the first year under head coach Geoff Collins who is transitioning the team from Paul Johnson’s option to a spread offense.
This game is easy to handicap if you watched both teams play last week. South Florida was facing a good opponent–not great by any stretch–and quit on their home field showing little to no effort on either side of the ball. They allowed four rushing TDs and 5.4 yards per carry. The offense put up 157 yards with only 26 yards rushing on 23 carries. None of this bodes well for head coach Charlie Strong who won’t have anyone to deflect the blame onto should the team struggle this year.
Georgia Tech, meanwhile, was in as tough of an environment as any college football team will face all year playing Clemson at ‘Death Valley’. The Yellow Jackets simply didn’t have the talent level to compete with Clemson but despite being completely outmatched didn’t quit on their head coach. There were actually some bright spots for the Jackets–the defense was tenacious and opportunistic against an offense full of players that will soon be competing on Sundays. They forced three turnovers and may have dashed Trevor Lawrence’s Heisman hopes by holding Clemson’s shaggy haired quarterback to just 168 yards. Running back Jordan Mason had 72 yards on 13 carries against a defense full of future NFL first rounders.
Simply put, if Georgia Tech turns in the same level of effort against the Bulls this week that they did against one of the most formidable teams in college football last week they’ll win this one going away. Even if Charlie Strong and his staff could fix what was wrong tactically with his team in a week they can’t fix what appears to be a highly negative attitude throughout the USF program.