ATLANTA, Ga. - Miami and Georgia Tech will meet under the lights on Saturday in the Yellow Jackets' annual Whiteout game, a tradition that began in 2008 with a 41-23 win over the Hurricanes. Both schools need one victory to become bowl eligible, a goal that once seemed unattainable for the Yellow Jackets after their 1-3 start but now figures to be far more daunting for a slumping Hurricanes team mired in a three-game skid.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Georgia Tech -3.5.
Quarterback decisions will be the main focus on both sidelines as head coaches Mark Richt (Miami) and Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech) have both been playing the quarterback shuffle. For Richt, it's been frustrating trying to find the solution to waking up a moribund offense that has scored a total of 39 points in losing to Virginia (16-13), Boston College (27-14) and Duke (20-12) the last three games, with neither Malik Rosier nor N'Kosi Perry proving to be the right answer. Johnson, on the other hand, has his team on track at the right time with four wins in the last five games, but senior quarterback TaQuon Marshall's injury against Duke on Oct. 13 opened the door for redshirt freshman Tobias Oliver to showcase his talent and there's some question about who is the starter after he was inserted into the lineup for a healthy Marshall for the fourth series of last week's 38-28 win over North Carolina. "There might be a point where Tobias would start, but I don't see it right now," Johnson told reporters. "Certainly we need to play both of those guys, but I've got a lot of confidence in TaQuon, as well."
ABOUT MIAMI (5-4, 2-3 ACC)
With so many questions at quarterback, the Hurricanes need their ground game to step up but it hasn't been able to do so on a regular basis and now starting running back Travis Homer (702 yards) may be hobbled by a calf injury, leaving DeeJay Dallas (547) to possibly carry the load. The Miami defense remains one of the nation's best but it will need to be disciplined and maintain their assignments against the Yellow Jackets' physical triple-option offense, but a big key may be the ability to force turnovers after Georgia Tech fumbled three times last week. "Our defense has played well against them in the past and I have a lot of faith and confidence in this week," said Richt. "Bottom line is, the best way to beat them is somehow get turnovers or get them behind the sticks a little bit, which is hard to do because most everything is downhill coming at you."
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (5-4, 3-3)
Whether it's Marshall or Oliver calling signals, the Yellow Jackets will run the ball, and run some more as they lead the nation in rushing offense, averaging 377 yards per game -- 70.4 yards more than the second-ranked rushing offense (Army, 306.6) -- and rank fifth in time of possession (34:28 per game). Miami will counter with a defense allowing just 3.2 yards per rush but Georgia Tech has produced back-to-back 400-yard rushing performances and a school-record five this season. The defense is showing growing pains in the first season under defensive coordinator Nate Woody but the unit has forced 20 turnovers, double its total of a year ago.
1. The Hurricanes have a one-game lead (12-11) in the all-time series thanks to winning three straight and eight of the last nine meetings dating to 2009.
2. Oliver (780 yards) and Marshall (659) are the Yellow Jackets' leading rushers.
3. Richt owns a 15-2 career record against Georgia Tech, including a 2-0 mark in two seasons with the Hurricanes.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 28, Miami 17
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