Georgia Tech

When Georgia is high in the polls, Tech hasn’t won

Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall, right, runs past Virginia Tech’s Emmanuel Belmar, left, in their game in Atlanta on Nov. 11.
Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall, right, runs past Virginia Tech’s Emmanuel Belmar, left, in their game in Atlanta on Nov. 11. AP

Georgia Tech will be battling the history book this week when it renews the annual rivalry against the University of Georgia.

Georgia Tech has played 111 games against the University of Georgia. In 16 of those meetings, Georgia has been ranked seventh or better in the Associated Press poll. In those situations, the Yellow Jackets are 0-16 against their in-state rival.

So, what are the Bulldogs ranked this week?

Seventh.

“This is our big rivalry game for the year,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “Certainly, it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”

The situation last occurred in 2012, when No. 3-ranked Georgia won 42-10 in Athens. The last time it happened at Bobby Dodd Stadium was 2007 when the No. 7 Bulldogs rolled to a 31-17 win that essentially sealed the fate of coach Chan Gailey, who was dismissed days later.

Georgia Tech is 1-18 against Georgia when the Bulldogs are ranked 10th or better. In 2013, the No. 17-ranked Yellow Jackets beat No. 9 Georgia 30-24 in overtime at Sanford Stadium.

“I think the University of Georgia probably has the best team they’ve had since I’ve been here in the 10 years,” Johnson said. “They’re playing very well. They come in at 10-1 and looking for a spot in the college football playoff, if they can win the SEC Championship game the next week. So, we’ve got a lot of work cut out for us and looking forward to the challenge.”

The game has the potential to be dominated by the running game. Georgia features Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who likely are NFL draft picks, and Georgia Tech has a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback TaQuon Marshall and B-back KirVonte Benson.

But Georgia Tech will need to make defensive adjustments to slow the Georgia attack. The Yellow Jackets allowed Duke to rush for 319 yards and throw for 181 in last week’s 43-20 loss in Durham, North Carolina.

“We didn’t play much defense last week,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to tackle better. Everybody says that when you play Georgia you’ve got to stop the run. Everybody says that, but nobody’s been able to do it except for Auburn. So that’s going to be a challenge.”

Going bowling

Georgia Tech needs one more victory to earn its sixth win and become bowl eligible. However, since the Yellow Jackets played only 11 games after Central Florida canceled its contest because of Hurricane Irma, Tech can probably receive special dispensation from the NCAA and go to a bowl game with five wins.

“It’s an opportunity,” Johnson said. “We’ll see if we can take advantage. We’ve had a couple of shots to finish that off and haven’t been able to do it on the road. We’re on a little win streak at home. We’ll see if we can keep that going certainly.”

If there aren’t enough six-win teams to fill all the bowl slots, the Yellow Jackets would likely be among the first to get an invitation.

It appears that the best opportunities may be the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26 or the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana., on Dec. 27.

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