Tech (6-5) hosts its bitter rival at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, a showdown to be televised live by ABC. The Jackets are more than three-touchdown underdogs against the top-ranked Bulldogs (11-0), a team which has already clinched a spot in the SEC championship game Dec. 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Brent Key, just the fourth Tech coach to lead the Jackets to a bowl game in his first season at the helm of the program, wouldn’t comment Saturday night on the impending matchup with UGA. His players would, but had been well-schooled on the correct things to say about playing for the Governor’s Cup.
“The mindset throughout the week is just gonna be try to win,” linebacker Paul Moala said. “I’m excited for these guys to take on this challenge and we look forward to next week.”
Georgia, as it has been well documented, is in the midst of what may go down as one of the more impressive runs in college football history. The Bulldogs have won two straight national titles, haven’t lost since Dec. 4, 2021, and have won 28 in a row overall.
Coach Kirby Smart’s team has also won five straight over Tech by an average score of 43.4-9.8. The Jackets last won 28-27 in 2016 and are 3-18 in the previous 21 matchups.
Tech has not defeated Georgia at Bobby Dodd Stadium since 1999, a string of 11 consecutive defeats. But the Jackets are 3-2 in their home venue this season and have won two straight there. Saturday’s crowd will likely be the largest of the season the Jackets have played in front of at Bobby Dodd Stadium, topping the 35,945 that saw Tech beat a ranked North Carolina team Oct. 28.
The program’s current attendance average of 33,296 after five home games this season is its lowest since an average of just 32,200 fans watched Tech over six home games in 1986 (not counting the pandemic-limited crowds of 2020). That averaged will be raised Saturday, thanks in front to a wave of red and black in the stands, and that will only add to the magnitude of the opportunity that lies in front of the Jackets.
“We’re trying to put Georgia Tech back on that map,” Tech linebacker Kyle Efford said. “The work doesn’t stop here. We’re still going. Head up, going up.”
- Tech now ranks 10th nationally with 21 takeaways, 15th with 1.18 sacks allowed per game, 19th in rushing offense (196.4 yards per game), 25th on third down (45.5 percent), 29th with 247 first downs, 30th in total offense (435.1 yards per game) and 37th with 5.36 penalties per game.
- The Jackets now ranks 128th nationally in rushing defense (222.4 yards per game), 125th in kick return defense (25.47 yards allowed per return), 123rd in red zone defense (93.2%), 111th with 20 turnovers, 109th with 4.7 tackles for loss per game and with 244 first downs allowed, 105th with 1.64 sacks per game, 101st in scoring defense (30.5 points per game) and 99th on third down (42.6%).
- Tech kicker Aidan Birr now ranks ninth nationally having made 91.7% of his field goal attempts.
- Tech wide receiver Christian Leary now ranks 32nd nationally at 21.6 yards per kickoff return.
- Tech running back Jamal Haynes now ranks 25th nationally with 6.03 yards per carry.
- King now ranks sixth nationally with 200 points responsible for, seventh at 18.2 points responsible for per game, 10th with 26 passing touchdowns and 33rd with 2,597 passing yards.
- According to Pro Football Focus, the highest graded players in Tech’s win over Syracuse were King (91) on offense and Efford (80.2) on defense.
- Tech’s 12 opponents this season are now a combined 80-52. Its six wins are over teams a combined 31-33 and its five losses were to teams a combined 38-17.