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Georgia Tech vs. UCF Florida 2023 Gasparilla Bowl Odds, Preview & Pick

By Hank Blaine

It’s a pair of 6-6 teams in Friday’s Gasparilla Bowl from Tampa as Central Florida will make about a 95-mile drive east on I-4 in the Sunshine State as the Knights of the Big 12 face Georgia Tech of the ACC. It’s the only bowl game on Friday ahead of a very busy Saturday.

Both teams will be down a few players each due to injury/transfer led by Tech pass-rusher Kennard (534 snaps this year) and cornerback Kenan Johnson (521 snaps) along with UCF corner Corey Thornton (667 snaps).

Georgia Tech is 3-2 all-time vs. UCF. They played last year in Orlando and UCF won 27-10. The other four were all played in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. UCF Knights 2023 Gasparilla Bowl Game Information

  • When: Friday, December 22nd, 2023, 6:30 PM ET
  • Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
  • TV: ESPN
  • Radio: 105.3 FM (Georgia Tech) // 96.9 The Game (UCF)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • College Football Odds: Georgia Tech (+5) // UCF (-5)

Why Bet on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets?

Georgia Tech (6-6) comes off a 31-23 loss in its regular-season finale but that was against then-No. 1 Georgia and the Jackets played really well. They have probably overachieved this year under Coach Brent Key, his first full season in charge although he also took over on a then-interim basis for a spell in 2022.

Transfer quarterback Haynes King has had a terrific year. With 2,755 passing yards, 648 rushing yards, 26 touchdown passes and nine touchdown runs, King is one of only two players in the nation with at least 2,700 passing yards, 600 rushing yards, 25 touchdown passes and five touchdown runs this season, joining LSU’s Jayden Daniels, the Heisman Trophy winner. King is one of only six Atlantic Coast Conference players to achieve those numbers in a regular season since 2000 (joining North Carolina’s Drake Maye – 2022, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson – 2016 and 2017, Wake Forest’s John Wolford – 2017, Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans – 2016 and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson – 2015).

King’s favorite target is wideout Eric Singleton Jr., who leads all freshmen nationally (true or redshirt) with 64.2 receiving yards per game and ranks second among true freshmen nationally with six touchdown receptions. His 706 receiving yards and six touchdown catches both rank among the top 10 overall in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while his six TD receptions are just one shy of the Georgia Tech freshman record of seven, held by Calvin Johnson (2004) and Ahmarean Brown (2019).

The defense is led by All-ACC safety Jaylen King. Coming back from a leg injury that cost him the final seven games of the 2022 season, King has intercepted four passes and recovered two fumbles for the Yellow Jackets in 2023. His four interceptions are tied for third in the ACC and 20th nationally, while his two fumble recoveries are tied for second in the conference and 17th in the nation. His six total takeaways are tied for tops in the ACC while his 12 passes defended rank third in the league. He also ranks third on the team at Georgia Tech with 65 tackles and has blocked a kick.

Georgia Tech is making its 46th all-time bowl appearance (16th-most in college football history) but its first since the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, where the Yellow Jackets fell to Minnesota, 34-10. Tech’s 25 bowl victories are good for a tie for 13th all-time, and its .556 winning percentage in bowl games (25-20) stands alone in 13th in college football history. The Jackets are in search of their first bowl win since defeating Kentucky, 33-18, at the 2016 TaxSlayer (Gator) Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

Why Bet on the UCF Knights?

UCF had big expectations this year in its first season in the Big 12 but finished with a 3-6 league mark and 6-6 overall, getting bowl eligible with a 27-13 win over Houston in the regular-season finale. Wide receiver Javon Baker and defensive end Tre’mon Morris-Brash secured spots on the All-Big 12 first team, while linebacker Jason Johnson earned selection to the second team.

After leading the Big 12 in receiving yards with 966, Baker garnered first-team all-conference honors. The Atlanta native’s receiving total ranks 24th nationally and he also leads the league in receiving yards per game with 80.5, which is 27th nationally. Baker is averaging 22.47 yards per reception, the third most in the nation. He surpassed 100 receiving yards in four games this season.

Morris-Brash turned in a great final season in the Black and Gold to earn first team honors, leading the league with 18.5 tackles for loss and ranking second in the Big 12 with 8.5 sacks. His 18.5 TFLs are the fourth most nationally and the fifth year’s 8.5 sacks are tied for 16th nationally. Johnson’s 101 tackles are second most in the Big 12 and it marked the first time a Knights player has had consecutive seasons with 100 or more tackles since Clayton Geathers and Terrance Plummer accomplished the feat in 2012-13.

Running back RJ Harvey was tabbed a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s best running back, and was honorable mention All-Big 12. He rushed for the ninth-most yards in the country with 1,296 and sixth-most rushing TDs with 16 to tie the program record for most in a single season. Harvey is the first Knights running back to surpass 1,000 yards since 2018.

It’s the eighth straight bowl appearance for the Knights, the 11th in 12 seasons and the 15th in 19 years. Overall, the Knights are 6-8 in bowls. It’s the third time in five years UCF has played in the Gasparilla Bowl—and the second time in three years that has happened under current UCF coach Gus Malzahn. The Knights defeated Florida 29-17 in the 2021 game won 48-25 against Marshall in the 2019 bowl.

Georgia Tech vs. UCF Betting Trends

  • Georgia Tech is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games.
  • UCF are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games when playing as the underdog.
  • The total went over in 5 of Georgia Tech’s last 6 games.
  • UCF is 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games.
  • Knights are 3-6 SU in their last 9 games.
  • The total went under in 5 of UCF’s last 6 games.

Georgia Tech vs. UCF 2023 Gasparilla Bowl Expert Betting Predictions

UCF takes the win on Friday night.

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