Northern Illinois vs. Georgia Tech Odds, Pick, Prediction: Yellow Jackets Have Value, Even as Big Favorites (Sept. 4)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Mason.
- Georgia Tech hosts Northern Illinois as both programs set forth on their 2021 seasons.
- Attempting to navigate a difficult schedule, the Yellow Jackets need to win these easier non-conference matchups.
- Check out Shawn Burns' full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game.
Northern Illinois vs. Georgia Tech Odds
Georgia Tech and Northern Illinois square off for the first time Saturday night in Atlanta, and this is an intriguing matchup between two programs that are motivated to erase the disappointments of last season.
Georgia Tech has an incredibly difficult schedule and needs to lock up as many early wins as possible to potentially become bowl eligible. Northern Illinois, meanwhile, suffered through a winless season and now has some much-needed depth to compete in conference play.
The excitement of college football has returned, and this will be one of the games I'm closely paying attention to on Saturday night.
Northern Illinois had a disastrous 2020 season, going 0-6 with one of the worst defenses in the country, allowing 40 or more points in four of their six games.
Head coach Thomas Hammock is 5-13 in his first two seasons, and it's fair to say his seat is getting warm with a Huskies fan base that expects to compete for MAC championships and bowl berths.
Northern Illinois has been a successful program and won the conference as recently as 2018 when Rod Carey was the head coach. Hammock, who played and starred at NIU in the early 2000's, took over in 2019 and unfortunately it hasn't been a pleasant homecoming.
The Huskies have struggled, but they do return 19 starters and secured a quarterback in the transfer portal in Rocky Lombardi Jr. from Michigan State. Lombardi will get the start on Saturday, and he does have valuable game experience starting six games last season for the Spartans.
The Huskies also return last season's leading rusher Harrison Waylee and leading receiver Tyrice Richie, who is one of the top receivers in the MAC and was first team all-conference. A total of nine starters return to an offense that finished 10th in the conference in scoring (24.8 per game).
The Huskies return a host of young players on the defensive side of the ball, including 10 starters. The secondary should be strong with the entire two deep returning, as well as second-team All-MAC selection Jordan Gandy at cornerback.
Last season, the Northern Illinois passing defense was serviceable, allowing 245 yards per game. Four freshmen started on the defensive line, and they all return and should be better equipped to hold up in the trenches. Northern Illinois allowed 174 yards on the ground and almost five yards per carry. Against a team with the depth at running back like Georgia Tech, they will be tested right out of the gate.
It's year three of the Geoff Collins era at Georgia Tech, and the Ramblin Wreck continue the complete rebuild from former head coach Paul Johnson's run-orientated offense scheme.
Collins has had back-to-back three-win seasons, but things are looking up as the Yellow Jackets have a young and talented quarterback and a stacked backfield.
Yellow Jackets Offense
Jeff Sims returns at quarterback for Georgia Tech after a freshman season that saw him show flashes of potentially being an All-ACC kind of player. Like most freshmen, Sims struggled at times, but he has the ability to be a dangerous threat in and out of the pocket.
Jahmyr Gibbs and Jordan Mason lead a group of running backs that helped Tech finish 47th in rushing yards per game and averaged almost five yards a carry. The offensive line returns three starters along with two SEC transfers.
This is a run-first offense but if Sims can improve as a passer, the offense will take a huge leap in 2021.
Yellow Jackets Defense
Georgia Tech returns 10 starters from a defense that needs to make big strides for the Yellow Jackets to improve.
Collins is one of the elite defensive minds in the country and this is by far the most talent he's had on the defensive side of the ball.
The front seven finally has the depth needed to compete, and Maryland transfer Ayinde Eley has the ability and the experience to make plays from the linebacker position.
The strength of the defense is the secondary, where all four starters return. This is a defense that is predicated on putting pressure on the quarterback and creating turnovers, and the pieces are in place for drastic improvements.
Northern Illinois vs. Georgia Tech Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Northern Illinois and Georgia Tech match up statistically:
Northern Illinois Offense vs. Georgia Tech Defense
Georgia Tech Offense vs. Northern Illinois Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Northern Illinois vs. Georgia Tech Betting Pick
This is a big year for both coaching staffs, which have to show signs of improvement.
Northern Illinois will no doubt be better than last season, but Georgia Tech is the more talented and athletic team. The Huskies have the advantage at the line of scrimmage and the skill position players to create mismatches.
Georgia Tech will establish the run game early, and Sims will have an impressive start to his sophomore campaign.
The Yellow Jackets opened as a -13 point favorite, and now the line has jumped to -18. I clearly missed the best number, but I'm still confident in taking Georgia Tech in this spot.
Pick: Georgia Tech -18 (Play to -19).