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Syracuse football 2023 opponent preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Like SU, they’ve upgraded to much better uniforms than the ones pictured here.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Georgia Tech Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Just two teams are left in our Syracuse Orange football preview series. First up is the final road trip of the regular season. SU just finished a battle in the Bronx with Pitt, and now they’ll be moving on from a team that wears yellow but calls it gold, to a team that wears gold but has “yellow” in their name. Yeah... college sports can still be weird sometimes.

Anyways, presenting the Atlanta football team not associated with the sport’s easiest punchline...

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

School: Georgia Institute of Technology

Nickname: Yellow Jackets

Mascots: Buzz; The Ramblin’ Wreck

#BRAND Slogan: #TogetherWeSwarm

Alternate #BRAND Slogan Suggestion: #MayhemIsOuttaHere

Recommended Blog: From the Rumble Seat

Conference: ACC

History vs. Syracuse: There isn’t any good old-fashioned hate between these programs - probably because they’ve only played three games. The Orange lost both a “road” game in the Meadowlands in 2001 and their only trip to Bobby Dodd in 2013. GT and SU also played each other in the first game under the new Dome roof in 2020 - which ‘Cuse won 37-20.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Miami at Georgia Tech Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coach: Brent Key, first (full) season. A Tech alum himself, Key took over as interim head coach last season when Geoff Collins was fired after another poor start. He led the Yellow Jackets to a .500 record in the final eight games and was retained as head coach on November 29. Key spent 11 seasons with UCF and three with Alabama before rejoining GT in 2019 as the offensive line coach & run game coordinator.

2022 Record: (5-7) (4-4)

Recapping Last Season:

After three straight three-win seasons, GT fans were rightfully running out of patience. The start of 2022 didn’t do anything to calm their concerns, as Tech continued to be a Wreck with three blowout losses to Clemson, Ole Miss, and UCF in their first four games. The Athletics Department was essentially gutted, Key took over football, and there was a short-term boost. The Yellow Jackets stunned a ranked Pittsburgh squad, then returned home and outlasted Duke in OT. They came out of the bye cold, losing three of four before another road upset, this time at #13 UNC. GT even played a solid first half in Athens before the Georgia offense woke up and acted like their #1 ranking.

The hapless offense was one of the country’s lowest-scoring outfits (17.2 points per game). Junior Jeff Sims started seven games but missed most of the second half with a foot injury. Then GT was down to their third-string option two weeks later; far from an ideal situation. The rushing attack was by committee, and Nate McCollum was the only consistent receiving catch with 60 catches for 665 yards.

While decent against the pass, the Techies were by far the worst ACC team at defending against the rush. The elite LB duo of Ayinde “Ace” Eley and Charlie Thomas (230 tackles, six forced fumbles combined) was mostly wasted. DE Deion White was the other main talent on defense, forcing 7.5 sacks. Gavin Stewart went 12/13 after taking over at kicker in Week 5.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2023 Season Outlook:

GT opens at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Louisville and also has home games against South Carolina State, Bowling Green, Boston College, UNC, SU, and Georgia. Their road games are with Ole Miss, Wake Forest, Miami, Virginia, and Clemson.

Former four-star Zach Pyron leads the QB competition after redshirting with an injury last year. Junior Zach Gibson and Texas A&M transfer Haynes King are also in the mix to replace Sims, who transferred to Nebraska. Meanwhile, McCollum went to North Carolina, leaving the wideouts very young and inexperienced entering the fall. Two returning RBs and Louisville transfer Trey Cooley will compete for touches.

Last year’s big three are all gone to the NFL. Another ex-Aggie, LB Andre White, is the only major addition. LaMiles Brooks and Clayton Powell-Lee return as a solid safety pairing (nine passed defended, four picks in 2022), but the defensive line is highly suspect without a proven edge.

Syracuse Game Date: Saturday, November 18

Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

Odds of Orange Victory: 80%

Very Early Outlook vs. Syracuse:

A lot has changed since SU’s last trip to the Flats. GT's option offense that decimated the Orange in the past is long gone, replaced with a pseudo pro-style attack which has failed to get any traction the past four years. Personel-wise, there's still ongoing battles for the QB, RB, and WR roles just two weeks before the season starts. The 4-2-5 defense also has to figure out how it can replace the production of its top three talents with not much help coming from elsewhere.

Key already seems like a better players' coach than Collins, but good leadership alone isn't enough to overcome a massive talent deficit. The high-flying Orange swerve right past the rickety old GT coupe in a blowout victory, sending them back home to Senior Day with momentum on their side.