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Why FSU may struggle vs. Ga. Tech offense

12/4/2014

Florida State's school-record 28-game winning streak began with a 21-15 victory against Georgia Tech in the 2012 ACC championship game. Two years later, the Yellow Jackets get their first chance to end the streak that they helped start.

FBS Ranks This Season

Based on Georgia Tech's run-heavy offense, ability to keep Florida State off the field and advantage in the turnover game, the Yellow Jackets may pose the greatest threat to Florida State this season.

Can FSU stop Georgia Tech's triple option?

Georgia Tech runs on 78 percent of its plays, the fourth-highest percentage in the FBS. Despite the fact their opponents know the run is coming, the Yellow Jackets rank in the top seven in the FBS in yards per rush, first downs per rush and percentage of rushes that gain at least five yards.

Florida State ranks 42nd in the FBS in rush yards per game allowed (145.8) but has not faced many top rushing offenses. The Seminoles have faced one rushing offense -- Boston College -- that ranks in the top 35 in rush yards per game, and they allowed 240 rush yards and 4.7 yards per rush to the Eagles. Against FCS team Citadel, which runs a triple option like Georgia Tech, Florida State allowed a season-high 250 rushing yards and 4.5 yards per rush.

Georgia Tech's triple option is at its best when its rushers can get to the outside. On designed runs outside the tackles, Georgia Tech leads the FBS with 23 rushing touchdowns and is averaging 7.0 yards per rush. This was a weakness for Florida State against Boston College and Citadel (102.5 rush YPG, 5.1 yards per rush) but a strength against all other opponents (46.5 YPG, 4.0 yards per rush).

Georgia Tech's offense is its greatest defense

Because of Georgia Tech's efficient running game, the Yellow Jackets have been able to keep their opponents off the field. Georgia Tech has gained an initial first down or a touchdown on 87 percent of its drives, on pace to be the highest on percentage in at least the past 10 seasons.

Georgia Tech Offense This Season

Initial first downs lead to clock-milking drives. Georgia Tech leads the nation in time of possession per drive (3:12), and its average drives gains an FBS-high 43.1 yards. All of these factors, in addition to the most efficient third-down offense in the nation, could keep Florida State's offense and Jameis Winston on the sideline.

Turnover advantage to Georgia Tech

Florida State has an ACC-high 27 turnovers, which is as many as Georgia Tech has forced this season. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC with a plus-11 turnover margin, compared with a minus-4 margin for Florida State.

Not only has Georgia Tech been able to force turnovers, but it has also capitalized on its opponents' mistakes. This is something that Florida failed to do last week against Florida State. The Seminoles had four turnovers that resulted in the Gators beginning a drive on FSU's side of the field, yet Florida could muster only six points off Florida State's mistakes.

Georgia Tech has been much more opportunistic, ranking fourth in the FBS in points off turnovers and tied for second with six defensive touchdowns, including five pick-sixes. The Yellow Jackets should get an opportunity to run one back against Winston, who this season has thrown at least one interception in nine of his 11 games and is averaging the fifth-most interceptions per game in the FBS.

The Yellow Jackets appear to have all the factors necessary to keep it close -- they can control the clock, keep their opponent off the field and are opportunistic on defense. Close may be all the Yellow Jackets need, as they have the best fourth-quarter point differential among Power 5 teams. Then again, they are playing Florida State, which has an uncanny ability to pull out games late.