ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech’s record against its biggest rival hasn’t been good this century.
But that doesn’t mean the Yellow Jackets are approaching this week’s game with Georgia with trepidation.
Georgia has won the past five meetings. The Bulldogs have won 12 of the past 13 contests. The only exception came in head coach Paul Johnson’s first season, when Georgia Tech came back to win 45-42 in Athens.
None of that seems to matter as Georgia Tech tries to end the latest dry spell against the Bulldogs.
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“Got a really big game against a very quality opponent,” Johnson said. “They’ve had a lot of success against Georgia Tech for a while now. It’s a big challenge for our guys, but we’re looking forward to going over to Athens to play.”
This will mark the eighth meeting since 1998 in which both teams have been nationally ranked. Georgia (9-2) enters the game ranked eighth by the AP and Georgia Tech (9-2) comes in at No. 16.
The two teams have split the past six games in which Georgia was ranked higher than Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets won the only meeting (2000) in which they were ranked ahead of the Bulldogs.
“It’s just a great opportunity,” senior wide receiver DeAndre Smelter said. “It’s a great opportunity to end our season playing three great teams. We want to take advantage of that.”
Georgia Tech did not play last week, and that gave the Yellow Jackets a chance to get rested and get a jump start on preparations for Georgia. The entire team is healthy and available to play, including defensive tackle Shawn Green, who missed the Clemson game with a knee injury.
“I think the bye week came at a pretty time for us,” Johnson said. “We got a little bit of a jump start on Georgia, which is a huge challenge. They’ve got an excellent football team. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to have another shot at them. We haven’t had a lot of success against them lately, but we’re looking forward to having a chance to go play them.”
Although Georgia Tech has earned a spot in the ACC championship Game by virtue of winning the Coastal Division, the Yellow Jackets aren’t looking past the Bulldogs. The rivalry ensures the team will be focused on the task at hand.
“Like any rivalry game, it’s bragging rights,” Johnson said. “Clearly there’s a lot of the fans that don’t like each other. For us, it adds a little bit, too, being ACC-SEC, because we sit here in the middle of the SEC, and that’s all we hear, all the time. But it’s a huge game for the fans, for the players and everybody involved. There’s no ducking that.”