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Latest early bowl predictions see Georgia Tech against Group of Five playoff contenders

Last season, Georgia Tech made its first bowl game since 2018 and won its first bowl game since 2016. It was a really good first season under Brent Key and now Georgia Tech has its sights set on getting back to a bowl game and maybe even more. The Yellow Jackets have one of the toughest schedules in the country for the 2024 season and it will be an uphill battle, but they can get the majority of the starters back from one of the best offenses in the country and if the defense improves, this could be one of the most dangerous teams in the ACC.

South Florida should be one of the best teams in the Conference of Five this season and potentially a playoff contender. The highest-ranked conference champion in the Conference of Five will advance to the new 12-team College Football Playoff, and that could be the Bulls. They have made great strides in Alex Golesh’s first season as head coach and should have one of the best offenses in the country. USF finished fifth in the AAC last season and should be in the running to win the conference.

It’s probably way too early for bowl predictions, but some media outlets, including Athlon Sports, have already started publishing them. In the first bowl predictions for 2024, Georgia Tech will face South Florida in the Fenway Bowl, which will be held at Fenway Park in Boston.

This would be a pretty exciting bowl matchup, even though both teams hope to finish in a better position in the postseason. There is the potential for a high-scoring shootout.

Yellow Jackets quarterback Haynes King was one of only two players in the country with at least 2,700 passing yards, 600 rushing yards, 25 touchdown passes and five touchdown runs this season (along with LSU’s Jayden Daniels) and one of only six ACC players to reach those numbers in a regular season since 2000. He led the ACC in touchdown passes and was fourth in passing yards. He’s back for another season on the Flats and could be the best quarterback in the conference this year. One reason to bet on the Yellow Jackets is that they may have the best quarterback on the field against many of their opponents.

Jamal Haynes was a great story last season. He switched from wide receiver to running back during fall practice and the switch paid off. Haynes earned third-team All-ACC honors as a running back and was an honorable mention as an all-purpose player. He led Georgia Tech with 1,059 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns and six yards per carry, second on the team. Those numbers ranked fifth in the ACC for rushing yards, and he was sixth in the conference with seven rushing touchdowns and his 6.0 yards per carry, third best in the league. Haynes had a strong bowl performance against UCF, rushing for a game-high 128 rushing yards on 18 carries. He also had a good outing against the Georgia Bulldogs, rushing for 81 rushing yards. Haynes was the Yellow Jackets’ second-highest-rated player with a score of 76.9 according to Pro Football Focus and looks poised for another big season in 2024. I think he’s in for a great season and he’s not getting the recognition he deserves.

This will be one of the strongest wide receiver squads in the ACC and there are some new additions that could strengthen the group.

Eric Singleton Jr. was the highest-rated player in the Yellow Jackets’ 2023 recruiting class according to 247Sports and looked like he could be a potential superstar last season.

Singleton Jr. ranked fourth among all freshmen nationally (true or redshirt) in 2023 with 59.5 receiving yards per game and was fourth nationally among true freshmen with six touchdown receptions. His 714 receiving yards and six touchdown catches both ranked in the top 10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while his six TD receptions were the second-most by a freshman in Georgia Tech history. Could he have an even better season in 2024? I think that’s entirely possible, and the chemistry between him and King was palpable last year.

Singleton is not the only dangerous receiver for the Yellow Jackets.

Malik Rutherford was Georgia Tech’s second-leading receiver. He caught 46 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 10.5 yards per catch. His best performance came in Georgia Tech’s big win over North Carolina. Rutherford caught six passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. He was a reliable player and could stretch the field with his speed. He is also a player who can get the ball in a variety of ways.

Christian Leary was the fourth-leading receiver for Georgia Tech this season, catching 25 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns and also returning kickoffs.

Chase Lane had a good start to the year, but injuries cost him some time. I think he could have a really good 2024 season if he stays healthy. Duquesne transfer Abdul Janneh had six catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He will again provide depth at Georgia Tech next year.

At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Leo Blackburn is one of the most physically impressive players on Georgia Tech’s roster, and if he stays healthy this season, he could add a whole new element to the Yellow Jackets’ offense.

The offensive line will also be one of the best in the ACC.

In just one season, head coach Brent Key and new offensive line coach Geep Wade transformed Georgia Tech’s offensive line from its biggest weakness to perhaps the best unit on the entire team. Georgia Tech went from one of the worst rushing teams in the ACC to the leading rushing team in the league. It was a pretty amazing turnaround if the line was one to watch in 2022, and the good news for the Yellow Jackets is that the offensive line returns four of its five starters and added an all-conference transfer this offseason.

New defensive coordinator Tyler Santucci hopes to turn around Georgia Tech’s defense this season so they can compete in the ACC. In one season at Duke (2023), Santucci led the ACC’s top-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 19.0 points per game, good for 16th nationally. The Blue Devils also ranked in the top 50 in the nation in rushing defense, passing defense, total defense, tackles for loss, third-down defense, fourth-down defense and red-zone defense. Duke allowed just 10 total points in two wins over teams that finished the season in the top 25 – No. 20 Clemson (28-7) and No. 21 NC State (24-3) – and finished the season 8-5 after a 17-10 victory over Troy in the 2023 Birmingham Bowl.

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