The defending ACC Champion, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, begin their 2010 season against the FCS defending MEAC title holder, South Carolina State Bulldogs. These two teams meet in Atlanta at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field on Sept. 4 at 1 p.m. The game will be viewable online via ESPN 3.
South Carolina State, led by head coach Oliver "Buddy" Pough (eighth Season), runs a spread-based read option offense and a base 4-3 defense.
On offense the Bulldogs return their star leader at QB, Sr. Malcolm Long, who threw for almost 2,500 yards and scored 25 total TDs during the 2009 season. However, the good news ends there. The 2010 Dogs will be without returning starters at tailback and both receiver positions, all of whom were lost to graduation (22 seniors in total were lost to graduation last year).
Those three veteran players accounted for over 53 percent of their offensive scores and will be sorely missed when opening against a BCS team like the Jackets.
The SC State defense did a good job last season holding opponents to an average under 16 points a game. Their strength, a ball-hawking secondary who totalled 18 interceptions, four of which were returned for TDs. Unfortunately, that defensive strength was also decimated by graduation and is much less valuable versus the very run heavy Jacket flex-option offense.
Georgia Tech's potent offense averaged over 420 yards per game last season. Managed by head coach Paul Johnson (third Season), the unit ranked number one in the ACC last year, and will be a tough early match-up for SC State. Led by returning All-ACC QB, Joshua Nesbitt, the Yellow Jackets should be primed for explosive football right out of the gate.
In recent comparable BCS match-ups, South Carolina State has struggled. Losing in 2009 to South Carolina 38-14, in '08 to Clemson 54-0, and in '07 to South Carolina 38-3.
With that said, the Bulldogs are a team who know how to score points and win games. But realistically, Georgia Tech should have the game well in hand by halftime, giving some quality reps to new backup QB, Redshirt-Sophomore Tevin Washington.
Otherwise, the game should start bringing some key questions into light for the 2010 Ramblin Wreck. Georgia Tech fans will be keeping their eyes on the newly restructured 3-4 defense under the tutelage of Al Groh and how it fares in their initial debut. They will also be eyeing new starting B-Back Anthony Allen and his production replacing former ACC Star Jonathan Dwyer.
How will these new components fit into Georgia Tech's bid to repeat as ACC Champions, and will the Jackets be capable in defending their title? The answers start to unfold on Sept 4.
As for Jacket's season opener, one answer appears to be pretty clear; Georgia Tech should take care of business and easily beat the first Bulldogs team they will face this fall.
Prediction: GT 55 - SCSt. 13