Last year, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets went into Lawrence, Kansas, with high hopes. They rolled in their first game, were ranked 15th in the nation by the AP, and were coming off an ACC title the year prior. Everything seemed to be going right for the Yellow Jackets.
However, nearly all aspirations of consecutive 10-win seasons ended that afternoon. They played undisciplined and inefficient football, and had multiple drives stall just when it seemed like they were starting to put something together.
Some people thought that this may just be a blip for the Jackets and that they would rebound from this "trap" game. However, that wasn't the case, as Georgia Tech continued to struggle and ended the season at 6-7.
Come this Saturday, the 2011 version of the Jackets needs to differentiate themselves from the 2010 version that had its first losing season in over a decade.
Even though Georgia Tech has essentially played two warm-up games against Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee State, it has already started to prove that this year's offense is significantly better. Not only does the running game appear to be functioning at all cylinders, but an efficient passing attack that the fans have been lusting for appears to have finally arrived.
So far, quarterbacks Tevin Washington and Synjyn Days have combined for 579 yards through the air, on only 26 attempts, with five touchdowns. Combine those stats with the 679 rushing yards the Jackets have already racked up and it appears that defenses will have trouble anticipating how to play defense against this diverse offense.
However, the key to this game, and the season, is going to be how well the defense holds up. In the second year of the 3-4 defense under Al Groh, Georgia Tech should be able to easily improve on last year's lackluster effort. Defensive end Izaan Cross and linebacker Julian Burnette are set to anchor the front seven, while corner back Rod Sweeting and safety Isaiah Johnson are emerging as the playmakers in the secondary.
If the defense can force a few stops and a couple of turnovers, Georgia Tech will have no problem winning this game and paving a way to another 10 win season. However, if the defense struggles, Yellow Jacket fans could be in for another long season.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 41, Kansas 23