Breaking Down the Hardest 2024 Schedules According to ESPN's FPI

From ESPN 3 days ago:

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets


Head coach: Brent Key (second full year, 11-10 overall)

2024 projection: 63rd in SP+, 4.2 average wins (2.3 in ACC)

Welcome back to the land of the living, Georgia Tech! After winning just 14 games in the four years after Paul Johnson's retirement, the Yellow Jackets became interesting again in 2023. Brent Key earned the full-time job after going 4-4 as interim coach in 2022, and while I was wary of that -- we sometimes overreact to small samples (and this small sample was still pretty mediocre) -- damned if Key didn't take full advantage of the opportunity. With Texas A&M transfer Haynes King serving as a lovely dual-threat quarterback (2,842 passing yards, 830 pre-sack rushing yards), the Yellow Jackets surged from 122nd to 50th in offensive SP+, and even with a problematic defense, Tech won seven games for the first time since 2018.

There's no reason to think the offense won't be even better in 2024. King is a delight, as is backfield mate and 1,000-yard rusher Jamal Haynes. Leading receiver Eric Singleton Jr. averaged a massive 2.4 yards per route as a freshman, too, and of the eight offensive linemen to start a game last year, five are back. Defense could still hold them back, but Key brought in nine transfers and, perhaps more importantly, a new defensive coordinator in Tyler Santucci. He was coordinator for Duke's top-25 defense last year, and he should get good safety play from juniors Clayton Powell-Lee and LaMiles Brooks. But even with a talent boost from the portal, it's hard to see enough difference-makers here.

The schedule is problematic. Tech plays two projected top-10 teams in nonconference play (Notre Dame, at Georgia) and seven teams projected 32nd or better. Even playing at a top-40 level, the Jackets would need some good breaks to bowl again.

My favorite player: QB Haynes King. A portal success story. After injuries and false starts at Texas A&M, King transferred to Georgia Tech and found a groove. He produced a Total QBR of at least 80 in six games (including four of the last six), and in those games the Yellow Jackets averaged 39.0 points per game and went 5-1. In the other games, they went 2-5 and averaged 24.3 points. Among 2024 starters, only Syracuse's Kyle McCord finished 2023 with a higher Total QBR rating.