Early Analysis: Georgia Tech at Miami

Vad Lee and Georgia Tech will have to hold on to the football to top Miami. Photo: USA Today Sports

Georgia Tech at No. 14 Miami

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ESPNU

Line: Miami -5

This game would have been more attractive had Georgia Tech not lost last weekend, but it still carries plenty of weight in the ACC Coastal Division this weekend. Miami will be playing their first ACC game of the year, whereas Georgia Tech will be playing their fourth already. The Yellow Jackets can make up for the loss to Virginia Tech if they can top Miami on the road, giving them a head-to-head tiebreaker if it comes down to it at the end of the year.

For Georgia Tech to Win: Protect the football! Miami enters this weekend knowing how to force turnovers. The Hurricanes have a turnover margin of +7, tied for the best margin in the ACC with Clemson. Georgia Tech has broken even with a 0, losing the football five times and taking it away five times as well. If Georgia Tech can keep things close, turnovers could lead to a deciding score. Georgia Tech cannot afford to come up on the wrong end of the turnover margin in this one. Georgia Tech was a -3 last week against Virginia Tech, a 17-10 loss.

For Miami to Win: Don't get worn down on defense. Georgia Tech's offensive style is geared to grinding for four quarters and strike when least expected with a pass. Miami has plenty of talent on defense to not let that affect them too much this weekend, but they must be prepared for a physical contest and have the endurance to stick it out at times. If Miami can shut down Georgia Tech's passing game, which they should, it will come down to keeping the running game from controlling the tempo of the game and the clock.

Key Player, Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee is on pace to have the highest passing total at Georgia Tech since Taylor Bennett passed for 2,136 yards n 2007, but he is also playing a role in the running game. This is to be expected of a team coached by Paul Johnson. Entering this week Lee has passed for 562 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns. He will be put to the test against Miami's defense, the fourth best in the ACC against the pass.

Key Player, Miami: Miami's offense has two stars leading the way, but we'll focus on running back Duke Johnson. Johnson enters the weekend as the ACC's second leading rusher and last year was limited to just 72 rushing yards and zero touchdowns by Georgia Tech despite averaging 5.54 yards per rush. Miami should look to get him involved and build some momentum but it will not be easy. Georgia Tech brings the ACC's top rushing defense in to the game, allowing just 3.17 yards per carry and 94.25 rushing yards per game.

Key Stat: Miami's defense has recorded 16 sacks by 13 different players already this season. Last year, Miami had 13 sacks by seven players for the entire season.

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About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to NBCSports.com's College Football Talk, Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Host of the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and iHeart Radio. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.