Looking at Georgia Tech’s schedule game-by-game

Georgia Tech opens the 2020 football season at home against Clemson

With the ACC releasing its league schedule Wednesday, here's a game-by-game look at Georgia Tech's schedule for the 2020 season.

Sept. 3 (Thursday) Clemson

The Yellow Jackets will open against the national-championship game finalist and the five-time defending ACC champions, who will again be heavy favorites to win the league. In coach Geoff Collins' coaching debut at Tech, the Jackets lost 52-14 in August at Clemson, Tech's fifth consecutive loss to the Tigers by two touchdowns or more.

Next season, Tech's challenges will begin with a loaded defense, quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. The teams also will open the 2022 season in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game to be played Labor Day night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Sept. 12 Gardner-Webb

Tech will play the Runnin' Bulldogs for the first time since their memorable meeting in 2008, the first year of former coach Paul Johnson's tenure. The Jackets squeaked out a 10-7 win when Derrick Morgan blocked a last-second field-goal try. Gardner-Webb has a new coach in Tre Lamb, whose father, Hal, and grandfather, Ray, were both legendary high-school coaches in Georgia. His uncle Bobby Lamb led Furman to a win over Tech in 1983, which was the Jackets' only loss to an FCS opponent until the loss to The Citadel in September. Gardner-Webb finished 3-9 last season.

Sept. 19 Central Florida

This is the first game of a home-and-home with the Golden Knights, a series that was supposed to begin in 2017 with a road game in Orlando, Fla. That game was canceled because of the effects of Hurricane Irma and now will be played in 2022. Collins, defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker and offensive-line coach Brent Key were all coaches for the Knights, Collins in 2008-09, Thacker in 2008-09 (as a graduate assistant) and again in 2015 and Key from 2005-14.

Central Florida looks like a formidable opponent. The Knights finished at 10-3 and finished second in FBS in total offense and 32nd in total defense.

Georgia Tech's future football non-conference opponents

Sept. 26 at North Carolina

The Jackets will visit the Tar Heels for their first road game of the season in what will be North Carolina's ACC opener. Under coach Mack Brown, North Carolina was one of the surprise teams of the ACC in 2019, finishing 7-6 and 4-4 in the ACC (including a 38-22 win over the Jackets) after a 2-9 season in 2018 that led to Larry Fedora's dismissal. Based on a strong finish and the return of several key players, notably quarterback Sam Howell, the Tar Heels figure to receive some preseason hype.

Oct. 3 at Virginia Tech

The Hokies delivered perhaps the most thorough defeat of the season for Tech, a 45-0 loss at Bobby Dodd Stadium that ended the Jackets' streak of 382 consecutive home games without getting shut out. Undoubtedly, the annual Coastal Division matchup will be highly anticipated by Jackets players eager for payback.

Georgia Tech has a three-game winning streak at Lane Stadium. When the Jackets drilled Virginia Tech 49-28 in October 2018, they became the first conference opponent to ever win three consecutive games over the Hokies in Blacksburg, Va.

Oct. 17 Virginia

Tech will come off its only open date of the season to face the Cavaliers. Last year, the defending Coastal Division champions gave Tech perhaps its most agonizing loss of the season, a 33-28 defeat in which the Jackets came within a couple of plays of spoiling the Cavaliers' pursuit of the division title. Instead, Virginia went on to win the Coastal, becoming the division's seventh different champion in as many years.

Virginia finished 9-5, its highest win total since 2007. The likely replacement for standout quarterback Bryce Perkins is Brennan Armstrong, who threw a 56-yard touchdown pass against Tech in 2018.

Tech’s game against the Cavaliers will be their second visit to Atlanta next season, as they open against Georgia in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game Labor Day night.

Future Chick-fil-A Kickoff matchups

Oct. 24 at Pittsburgh

Tech will travel north to seek revenge for a 20-10 home defeat in November. The series with the Panthers has been among the Jackets' most competitive of late. Pitt finished last season at 8-5, which has been the ceiling for coach Pat Narduzzi in his five seasons with the Panthers, albeit one he has reached three times in those five years.

The Pitt defense could be loaded this year. The Panthers return five defenders who were named to the Pro Football Focus All-ACC team for 2019.

Oct. 31 at Syracuse

Tech will make its first trip to the Carrier Dome, a building that has been undergoing renovation, but is expected to be ready for football season. It has been a considerable wait considering that the Orange joined the ACC in 2013 and played at Bobby Dodd Stadium that fall. It will be one of two games that the Jackets play indoors this season, along with the Notre Dame game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Syracuse was a trendy pick to challenge Clemson in the Atlantic Division this past season, but finished the season at 5-7, including a 2-6 record in the ACC. The Orange return quarterback Tommy DeVito, but have graduated their top three tacklers from last season.

Nov. 7 Duke

The Blue Devils have controlled the series of late, with five wins in the past six meetings. That includes their win over Tech in October, a 41-23 decision in which the Blue Devils scored 28 second-quarter points. The win put the Devils' record at 4-2 and in the thick of the Coastal Division race, but then they lost their five consecutive games to miss the postseason for just the second time in the past eight years.

Duke has two returning All-Americans, tight end Noah Gray and defensive end Chris Rumph. Duke will have a new starting quarterback with the graduation of Quentin Harris.

Nov. 14 Notre Dame

Tech's game vs. the Fighting Irish will inaugurate the Jackets' five-game series at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It's Notre Dame's second game against Tech as part of its agreement with the ACC to play on average five conference opponents per season. The first was in 2015, at Notre Dame, and the third will be in 2021 with a November matchup in South Bend, Ind. (If you're wondering, the fourth will be in 2024 — also at MBS — the fifth and sixth will be in South Bend in 2027 and 2029 and the last two will be at Tech in 2032 and 2036. The rotation is scheduled through 2037.)

The Irish finished the season No. 12 in the final AP poll with an 11-2 record. They’ll return all of a fearsome offensive line and two-year starting quarterback Ian Book.

Nov. 21 Miami

Tech will go for three wins in a row against the Hurricanes, who were the losers last year in the Jackets' most memorable win of Collins' first season, a 28-21 overtime decision sealed by safety Tariq Carpenter's fourth-down tackle to prevent the Hurricanes from gaining a first down.

A win would represent a clear turning of the tide in the rivalry. Tech won four in a row over Miami 2005-08 before losing eight of the next nine.

Miami finished the 2019 season with three consecutive losses, including a 14-0 bowl-game defeat to Louisiana Tech. The Hurricanes have added two notable grad transfers — Temple defensive end Quincy Roche (American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year) and Houston quarterback D’Eriq King, who considered LSU and Arkansas before selecting Miami.

Nov. 28 at Georgia

The rivalry continues in Athens with the Jackets trying to end a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. With significant losses on the offense, the Georgia team will look considerably different than the one that beat the Jackets 52-7 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Bulldogs will play at Kentucky the week before facing the Jackets.

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