Week 11 - Georgia Tech at North Carolina

Posted Nov 7, 2012

Week 11 Fearless Prediction - Georgia Tech at North Carolina

Georgia Tech (4-5) at North Carolina (6-3) Nov. 10, 12:30, ACC Network

Here's The Deal: North Carolina won't participate in the postseason this year. The Tar Heels will spend the next three weeks trying to make sure that some of their rivals don't as well.

Carolina has been banned from participating in a bowl game by the NCAA, but that reality hasn't stopped it from winning five of the last six games. Prior to enjoying a welcomed first bye of the year, the Heels were busy spoiling NC State's quest for the Atlantic Division with a pulsating 43-35 victory. This week, they'll look to deal a blow to Georgia Tech's postseason hopes.

The Yellow Jackets have inched closer to the .500 mark with two wins in the last three games. Still, beating Boston College and Maryland is hardly confirmation that the program has turned the corner for head coach Paul Johnson. Johnson does believe that his team is getting close to a recovery, and would benefit greatly from 15 additional practices in December.

Why Georgia Tech Might Win: The Yellow Jackets are going to move the ball on the ground … no matter who's taking snaps.

Johnson has been using two quarterbacks, incumbent Tevin Washington and rookie Vad Lee, and won't decide on a starter until after seeing both in practice. Whoever gets the ball from the coach will pilot an option-based attack averaging 318 yards a game on the ground. Both have plenty of potential in this system, and will get support from a wave of backs that includes homerun-hitting Orwin Smith and bruising Zach Laskey and David Sims. As always, tech will strive to control the clock, while keeping the ball out of the hands of Carolina's playmakers.

Why North Carolina Might Win: The Yellow Jackets are especially worried about RB Giovani Bernard. And they should be.

Bernard is the most Heisman-worthy player that no one is talking about. The nation's fifth-leading rusher has gone for at least 135 yards in four straight, and beat rival NC State with a late punt return for six two weeks ago. He's going to be a big problem for a marginal Georgia Tech D that already had to fire its coordinator this season. Plus, if the Jackets spend too much time trying corral No. 26, QB Bryn Renner will make them pay by throwing well-placed darts in the direction of WR Erik Highsmith and TE Eric Ebron.

What To Watch Out For: Defending the option is all about discipline and lane integrity. For Carolina, that'll mean that its linebackers and safeties must play with the vision to sniff out the man with the ball, and wrap up in space. While DT Sylvester Williams and DE Kareem Martin are determined to impact plays before they can develop, the onus will fall on back seven defenders, such as LB Kevin Reddick and FS Tre Boston, to prevent the Yellow Jackets runners from making yards after contact.

What Will Happen: North Carolina has had two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech. It's a luxury that'll serve the host well in Chapel Hill.

The Tar Heels will look well-rested, as opposed to rusty, in their return to action, further building momentum. While the D is busy containing the Yellow Jackets ground game, the offense will pepper Tech with its usual balance and versatility. Bernard will again star, but Renner will also be instrumental in the win by tossing a couple of touchdown passes.

CFN Prediction: North Carolina 38 … Georgia Tech 28
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) North Carolina -9 O/U: 66.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Skyfall, 1 – Wreck It Ralph): 2.5