Georgia Tech vs. UCF kicks off Friday (12/22/23) at 6:30 p.m. EST in Tampa as the host site for the Gasparilla Bowl. Get Georgia Tech vs. UCF predictions and best bets below as our best bet is over 66.5 points in what will be a high-scoring affair.
Georgia Tech vs. UCF Prediction
Bowl season continues on with another week full of exciting games for our betting pleasure. Friday’s standalone game features the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against the UCF Knights, a game that actually has more stability than you would imagine during bowl season. With only a few starters from each team hitting the transfer portal, expect plenty of familiar faces when these two teams face off. For more up to date news and information regarding opt outs, transfers, and injuries, you can read a comprehensive list here.
Speaking of transfers, nearly every impactful player who has entered the transfer portal is on the defense. Georgia Tech may be without starting edge rusher Kyle Kennard and cornerback Kenan Johnson while UCF is potentially losing cornerback Corey Thornton. The word potentially is used because players may opt back into the game before kickoff, leaving the transfer portal and remaining with their team heading into next year. Even after placing a wager, it’s always worth monitoring the status of these players leading up to kickoff.
Assuming that they will be out, that directly correlates to the over in what already may be a high-scoring affair. Defense has been optional for both teams this season, now losing on productive pieces in the secondary which weakens their pass coverage. Especially for Georgia Tech, losing out on an edge rusher which may give UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee a cleaner pocket and help elevate their pass game.
That spells potential doom for a defense that already ranks 101st in Def Pass Success Rate, now having to stretch coverage to help pad the loss in production. The issue with stretching the second level is that it opens up holes for the Knights ground game to exploit, having to also try and stop a ground game that ranks 20th in Rush Success Rate, 13th in Rush PPA and 13th in Rush Explosiveness. That may come with disastrous results as the Yellow Jackets rank 123rd in Def Rush Success Rate and 121st in Def Rush PPA.
In fact, consistent rush success should come from both units in this contest as UCF’s rush defense metrics are just as putrid. UCF’s front seven has shown an inability to limit opposing rush success, clocking in at 124th in Def Rush Success Rate, 107th in Def Rush PPA and 85th in Def Rush Explosiveness. The Yellow Jackets already run it at a very high level, ranking 22nd in Rush Success Rate, 10th in Rush PPA and 41st in Rush Explosiveness.
Georgia Tech vs. UCF Prediction: Over 66.5
Georgia Tech vs. UCF Best Odds
Leading up to kickoff, oddsmakers originally had the UCF Knights winning this game in a comfortable manner by opening them as a -6.5 favorite. Bettors believe that number opened too high, backing the Yellow Jackets down to as low as +4.5. Opt outs have shifted the identity of the defenses, making it tough to gauge who will find more consistency to pull away and cover.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a lightning pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 61.5. With both defenses losing key production at various levels, bettors were quick to hammer the over up to 67.5 in some shops. Some shops have even hit 68, while some shops are still posting a 66.5 as of writing.
Georgia Tech vs. UCF Key Matchups
Can Haynes King find success through the air against UCF’s secondary?
Haynes King vs. UCF Secondary
Georgia Tech was largely pegged as a bottom feeder of the ACC heading into this year yet surprised a majority of the media by finishing 6-6. That was in large part of their offensive revitalization, an offense led by former Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King.
Meant to share this the other day… Never gonna fault a guy for making a business decision, but I just loved this answer from GT’s Haynes King on why playing in a bowl game means so much to him… dude is a top tier competitor. pic.twitter.com/FvfHldPfH6
— 💫🅰️♈️🆔 (@ADavidHaleJoint) December 14, 2023
Haynes King will play a vital role toward the over as he may be in a good position to crack a stout UCF secondary. With their massive advantage on the ground, the Knights defense will be forced to stack the box and sell out to stop the run. That opens up gaps outside the numbers, giving King high quality throwing lanes for the offense to routinely move the sticks against a defense who ranks 68th in Def Pass Success Rate.