With the release of the Georgia Tech 2023 Football schedule on Monday night, it’s time to start making some predictions on how Brent Key will perform in his first year at the helm. Featuring several ranked opponents and potential-to-be-ranked opponents, this season will be no small challenge, but Key has brought in the talent and personnel to have a good season. So, let’s dive into the 2023 campaign:
vs. Louisville (Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game, Friday, September 1st)
Just like in 2022, the Yellow Jackets will begin the season with a game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but perhaps against a more evenly matched opponent. The Louisville Cardinals are one of three of Tech’s annual opponents within the new ACC schedule structure and this game will be a climactic beginning to a new “rivalry.” Louisville, like Tech, comes in with a former player turned head coach: Jeff Brohm, former Purdue head coach. Brohm was hired this past season after Scott Satterfield left the Cards for Cincinnati, and he has done well on the recruiting trail since getting the job.
What originally looked like an easy win for Tech is proving to be a big challenge in the opener. Louisville has a big question mark when it comes to quarterback as their four-year starter, Malik Cunningham is entering the NFL Draft. Cunningham was a stud for them and it was rare to see the second guy on the field, so their quarterback will be the big question going into this game. On the other side of the ball, Louisville tends to have a strong defense and it will most likely be as such this season.
Key will most likely be playing two quarterbacks this game to get a better picture of who our starter should be. For Tech to win, the offense needs to find a rhythm rushing the ball. Senior running back Dontae Smith will need to have a big night against his former team to allow some comfort for our quarterbacks to sit in the pocket. On the defensive side of things, the run defense is what matters. The Jackets have to reduce the big plays this season and it has to start by limiting Louisville to one option: passing. The Jackets have to make Louisville beat them through the air with their unfamiliar, inexperienced quarterback.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 27, Louisville – 21
vs. South Carolina State (September 9th)
The Jackets’ welcome back to Bobby-Dodd Stadium will come against the South Carolina State Bulldogs out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Just two years removed from a Celebration Bowl victory, the Bulldogs are not to be underestimated. Tech has a track record of losing games like this and if the Yellow Jackets do not take the game seriously, they could find themselves with another devastating home loss. However, this will not be one of those moments in my mind and I expect Georgia Tech to cruise to their second win of the season in this game.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 42, SC State – 10
at Ole Miss (September 16th)
The Jackets head to Oxford, Mississippi for the second matchup in a home-home series with the Ole Miss Rebels. Last season, the Rebels put one of the final nails in Collins’ coffin with a 42-0 trouncing of GT on family weekend. However, the Rebels went from playoff contenders to limping out of the season last year, going 1-5 in their last 6 games, including receiving a 42-25 beat down from Texas Tech in their bowl game. Naturally, Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss are looking to turn things around and with Tech being the third team on their schedule, the odds of pulling off a big upset are not favorable.
Sophomore quarterback Jaxson Dart had a breakout year for the Rebels last year and won the starting job midseason. The big key for Tech will be penetrating Ole Miss’ offensive line and making Dart uncomfortable in the pocket. The Jackets have to force Dart to make throws on the run and get him to make mistakes. Offensively, Tech has to find a way to move the ball through the air consistently to stand a chance. The run game will open up if our quarterback can make the Ole Miss coverage team respect his arm. The Jackets will play better this season than last, but not enough has changed in a year to win this game.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 20, Ole Miss – 38
at Wake Forest (September 23rd)
Another one of Tech’s new annual opponents, Wake Forest will play host to the Yellow Jackets for the first time since 2010. The Jackets have won the last three matchups between the schools; however, Wake Forest is a very different team since the last meeting. The Demon Deacons are losing a lot of talent with star quarterback Sam Hartman transferring to Notre Dame and standout receiver A.T. Perry heading to the NFL Draft. Their offense will be looking to find a new identity and the Jackets need to take full advantage of this. Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson has proven to be very skilled at his job, but this year bodes the question of how they will perform without their big stars.
Wake Forest is one of the biggest question mark games on Tech’s schedule because it is unsure how good the Demon Deacons will be. On paper, Georgia Tech should take this one, but the game could be closer than most will expect. This game will showcase Key’s ability to outsmart his opponent and get the job done on the road against a lesser opponent. Look for a good game when this one rolls around.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 28, Wake Forest – 24
vs. Bowling Green (September 30th)
Georgia Tech will play host to the Bowling Green Falcons from the MAC, Mid-American Conference, this season. This game reeks of a trap game and brings flashbacks to the season opener against Northern Illinois in 2021. Hopefully, that game remains fresh on the minds of coaches, players, and fans going into this one. Tech is 1-1 all-time against the MAC and previously beat Bowling Green 63-17 in 2018. The Falcons are coming off a 6-7 season that included suffering multiple blowouts to lesser opponents. With Bowling Green having no major changes in the offseason, the Yellow Jackets should not struggle and this should be an offensive field day.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 49, Bowling Green – 17
at Miami (October 7th)
The Yellow Jackets will travel to Miami, FL to take on the Miami Hurricanes where the last three games have been decided by a one-score margin. Last year in Atlanta, the Jackets suffered a really perplexing, embarrassing 35-14 loss. Miami, as always, is coming into the season with a lot of noise, but per usual they will disappoint. They did pick up a lot of talent in the offseason through recruiting and the transfer portal, but the big question is will it translate to the field?
The big factor Tech needs to emphasize for this game is reduce the mistakes. This game last year saw a lot of blown coverage, missed assignments, and four turnovers. If Tech was able to reduce those, it would have been a very different game. The Jackets cannot flinch this year and need to bring it all on the field. Once again, the run game will be key to making the quarterback comfortable. There should be no need to force the ball on passes. Short pass plays and good gains on early-down runs can do a lot for Tech in this game. Expect a close battle in this one.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 24, Miami – 27
vs. Boston College (October 21st)
Georgia Tech will welcome Boston College to the Flats for the second time in three years in 2023. The Eagles got the best of the Jackets in 2021, winning 41-30; however, things are much different this time. Boston College comes limping into 2023 after a 3-9 2022 season full of beatdowns and embarrassing losses. The Eagles lost a game to UConn where they failed to even get in the endzone, falling 13-3. Not much is changing for BC between this season and last, so Georgia Tech has no business losing this game or even playing close with these guys. Look for the offense and defense to have a lot of fun in this game.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 35, Boston College – 7
vs. North Carolina (October 28th)
After a stunning, remarkable upset victory in Chapel Hill last year, the Jackets will welcome a bitter UNC to Bobby-Dodd. Georgia Tech has won the last two meetings against the Tar Heels: both being upset victories over a ranked North Carolina team. Drake Maye returns for his sophomore season after GT put an end to his dark horse Heisman hopes and he will most likely take this game very personally.
Tech is most likely circled on the calendar for these guys, but UNC will be losing Josh Downs: their star receiver. In his place, they picked up former Tech standout receiver Nate McCollum out of the transfer portal. The Jackets will need to play perfectly in the defensive backfield to three-peat against North Carolina. The Tar Heels will still have a weak defense this season and it can be expected that Georgia Tech will be able to score, but if the Jackets cannot stop the Heel’s attack, this one could be a big shootout.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 31, UNC – 34
at Virginia (November 4th)
Perhaps the most frustrating game of last season, the Yellow Jackets will take on Virginia again, but in Charlottesville this time. The Jacket’s first two-game win streak in four years was killed by UVA last season on a Thursday night 16-9 struggle. Georgia Tech looks to get revenge against a weak Virginia team that will be without Brennan Armstrong. The Cavaliers have lost a lot in the offseason and have not really gained much in return. The only thing that will keep Virginia in this game is their home-field crowd.
Georgia Tech should come into this game angry and should have a lot to prove. This will be a game for Key to prove why he was hired and that he can win the games he is supposed to. The Jackets should run all over the Cavaliers and this should be a fun one for Tech fans to watch, juxtaposing last season’s struggle.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 31, UVA – 14
at Clemson (November 11th)
After opening the season against the Tigers last season, the Yellow Jackets will travel to Clemson, South Carolina this year. The Tigers will be another one of Tech’s annual opponents in the ACC’s new structure. Clemson won the ACC last season but fell short in the Orange Bowl against Tennessee. The Tigers had two slip-ups during the regular season, but those were a result of poor offensive play from former quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. The Tigers will be depending on a new guy this season on the offensive side of the ball, highly touted recruit Cade Klubnik. I expect the Tigers to make a run at the playoff this season; however, the Jackets are no strangers to tripping Clemson up in the past, having ruined several seasons for them.
It is all reliant on the performance of the Tech defense for this game. If Georgia Tech can get stops and force their young quarterback to make mistakes, this one could get interesting. The Clemson defense is losing a decent amount of talent, but per their standard, they will be alright. The Jackets have to find success in the run game as that was the fatal flaw last year against the Tigers. If Tech can do all of these things, the Jackets could be coming back to Atlanta with a huge win that could spark a run at the ACC championship game. However, this is a lot for Tech to do and although it is possible, it is unlikely to happen.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 21, Clemson – 34
vs. Syracuse (November 18th)
Georgia Tech welcomes the Syracuse Orange to Atlanta for the first time since shutting them out 56-0 in 2013. The Jackets will look to halt a team that has a track record for winning games they are not supposed to. The Orange are coming off a horrendous finish to their 2022 season, going 1-6 to cap the year. They also lose star running back Sean Tucker to the NFL, so the team will be fairly young and looking to find an identity.
Syracuse tends to have a scrappy defense that in recent years has been able to stop some of the most productive offenses in the country. This game will be a defensive struggle from the beginning and it will come down to who can get in the end zone versus who is kicking field goals. GT needs to find a red-zone offense if they want to win this game because field goals in the red zone-will not cut it for this one. Georgia Tech outmatches Syracuse in talent, but this is a game where the coaches have got to translate it to the field and outsmart the tremendous Orange coaching staff.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 17, Syracuse – 16
vs. Georgia (November 25th)
Clean, Old Fashioned Hate returns to the Flats in 2023. The Yellow Jackets look to break a five-game spell against the Bulldogs and an embarrassing home wins drought against UGA that goes back to 1999, but this will be no easy feat and this is Georgia Tech’s toughest game this season. However, Key has made a promise to the fanbase that the team will work “365 days a year to dominate” the other team in this state. There is no love lost within either of these coaches and after the best half against the Bulldogs for Tech since 2016, I would not be shocked to see Tech come out swinging with all they have.
Georgia loses a lot of their talent just as they did the previous season, but this time they have a question mark at quarterback. The defense will also take a step back by their standards. The outcome of this game is all about the momentum the teams have going in. If Georgia Tech is coming in on a winning streak, I like the Yellow Jackets’ odds to do something in this one. On paper, this is Georgia’s game to lose, but a lot of things can happen in a rivalry game and this is one that is no stranger to odd outcomes.
Prediction: Georgia Tech – 28, Georgia – 27
Final Record: 8-4 (5-3 ACC)
Georgia Tech is due for a bowl game this season after no appearances since 2018. Coach Key has brought in a stellar staff and a lot of talent to showcase it on the field. This season will be a disappointment with anything below six wins based on the scheduled opponents and Key needs to win six games to solidify himself as a good hire. This could be a really fun fall for the Yellow Jackets and there could be some really cool moments to bring excitement back around the Georgia Tech football program.
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