Here are five other things to know about Saturday’s matchup:
1. Spooky unis
Tech announced Thursday it will wear black uniforms Saturday as a nod to its “Black Watch” defenses of the 1980s.
The “ghost” uniforms feature glow-in-the-dark black jerseys and black pants with white and gold numerals, logos and piping paired with a gold helmet that includes a black interlocking GT logo with a white outline and black and white striping.
Tech wore black jerseys for home games under former coach Bill Curry in the 1980s. The defenses of the 1984-85 teams were coined the “Black Watch” by former defensive coordinator Don Lindsey. Lindsey dubbed the most prominent players on his defenses in honor of Scottish military forces that took the same name beginning in the 1700s.
Notable Black Watch defenders included defensive back Cleve Pounds, linebacker Ted Roof and defensive end/outside linebacker Pat Swilling. Black Watch members wore helmets with an all-black “GT” on the sides and a black stripe across the top. All other players wore the regular white “GT” on the sides with no stripe.
Curry is expected to be at Saturday’s game.
Credit: Courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics
Credit: Courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics
2. Winning third down
Saturday’s game could be won or lost when it comes to each team’s success rate on third down – and Bowling Green is on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to the crucial play of a possession.
The Falcons have one of the nation’s worst conversion rates on third-down offense. In losses to Liberty and Ohio, BGSU finished a combined 4-of-23 on third downs. Only once in four games, in a win over Eastern Illinois, have the Falcons been better than 40% on third down.
Conversely, Bowling Green’s defense has bowed up on third down by holding the opponent to a 33.3% success rate. Both Eastern Illinois and mighty Michigan gained just one first down on third-down tries against the Falcons.
Tech enters Saturday’s matchup with the ACC’s second-best third-down offense by converting 51.7%.
3. King numbers watch
Tech quarterback Haynes King has had a remarkable start to the 2023 season. Because of that, it’s not too early to start peeking at where King stands in relation to the program’s record book.
King, who transferred to Tech in January from Texas A&M, has thrown 11 touchdown passes. If he were to connect on three more Saturday he would have the most TD passes in a Tech season since Justin Thomas threw 18 in 2014 (Joe Hamilton has Tech’s single-season TD record with 29).
With at least eight games left this season, King should finish inside the top 20 for passing yards in a Tech season. He realistically could finish inside the top 10 in that category and has an outside chance to break George Godsey’s program record of 3,085 passing yards in 2001.
King, also on pace to set a single-season record for completions by a Tech QB, would have to average 244.13 passing yards per game over the next eight games to reach Godsey’s mark. The Texas native currently is averaging 283 yards per contest.
4. A well-traveled Bazelak
Connor Bazelak is a former four-star prep prospect who has played a lot of college football – and still has plenty more to go.
From Dayton, Ohio, Bazelak threw his first college pass in Georgia, when he was a freshman at Missouri and went 8-for-12 for 64 yards in a 27-0 loss at UGA. The next two seasons with the Tigers the 6-foot-3 Bazelak totaled 4,914 passing yards.
Bazelak then played 10 games for Indiana in 2022 and threw for 2,312 yards. In eight of those 10 games he had at least 40 pass attempts.
Now, with this season and next remaining on his college-eligibility clock, Bazelak comes to Atlanta having completed 56.8% of his 81 throws for 494 yards and three touchdowns this season. He also has been picked off five times and didn’t play in a Sept. 16 game at No. 2 Michigan.
5. Welcome back, Falcons
Bowling Green will be making its second trip to Bobby Dodd Stadium, having lost a 2018 matchup 63-17.
One year later, Bowling Green and Tech signed a contract to play Saturday’s game. Tech paid Bowling Green $550,000 on Feb. 15 for agreeing to the matchup, and Bowling Green is owed another $550,000 by Feb. 15, 2024.
The Falcons as a program have had a great run of success this century, starting in 2001 when Urban Meyer took over as coach and went 17-6 in two seasons. Gregg Brandon led the Falcons to three bowl games from 2003-08 before Dave Clawson, now the coach at Wake Forest, went 32-31 there. Clawson was succeeded by Dino Babers who now is the coach at Syracuse.