Taking a look at Georgia Tech’s 2022 football schedule

A year ago, there were 16 power-conference teams that won 10 or more games. Georgia Tech has the privilege of playing four of those 16 this season. Beginning with No. 4 Clemson and finishing with No. 3 Georgia, the Yellow Jackets’ 2022 schedule is no pleasure cruise.

GAME 1: Sept. 5 vs. Clemson (Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 8 p.m., ESPN)

It’s a home game for Tech – which has limited capacity in MBS to 42,500 – although the game will be presented as a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. The Jackets will try to break a seven-game losing streak to the Tigers, who have won six of them by at least 14 points (some by many more). Tech did come its closest to stopping the streak last year, a 14-8 road loss that has provided motivation to the Jackets this offseason.

GAME 2: Sept. 10 – vs. Western Carolina (7 p.m., ESPN-Plus)

Tech will play its lone game against an FCS opponent vs. the Catamounts, who were 4-7 last year, their fourth consecutive losing season. After playing Clemson on Labor Day night, the Jackets will have a disadvantage in rest, but ought to have the edge in virtually every other category. Coach Geoff Collins is an alumnus of Western Carolina, having gone there as a walk-on before earning a scholarship and becoming a starter on defense.

GAME 3: Sept. 17 – vs. Ole Miss (3:30 p.m., ABC)

The Rebels start the season ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press preseason poll after their 10-3 season in 2021. All-SEC quarterback Matt Corral has moved on from the offense that led the SEC in total offense, but coach Lane Kiffin has two possible replacements in Jaxson Dart and Luke Altmyer. The Jackets will also face a former teammate, defensive end Jared Ivey, who transferred to Ole Miss in the offseason.

GAME 4: Sept. 24 – at Central Florida (TBA)

This could be a pivotal game as the Jackets try to build momentum heading into the bulk of their ACC schedule. UCF has rebuilt through the transfer portal after its 9-4 record last season and was picked to finish third in the American Athletic Conference. Fun fact for Tech: Aside from 2020, when they played in front of a limited-attendance crowd, the Knights haven’t lost at home since 2016, defeating Pitt, Stanford and a Collins-coached Temple team along the way.

GAME 5: Oct. 1 – at Pitt (TBA)

The Jackets return to Pittsburgh and newly renamed Acrisure Stadium (formerly Heinz Field) for the first time since 2018 following three consecutive games against the Panthers at Bobby Dodd Stadium (all won by Pitt). The defending ACC champions start the season No. 17 and will be quarterbacked by USC transfer Kedon Slovis. Tech will be reunited with another former Jacket, tight end Dylan Deveney, who left this offseason as a grad transfer.

GAME 6: Oct. 8 – Duke (TBA)

Duke is the only Coastal Division opponent that Collins has a winning record against (2-1), which in part explains why the school and longtime coach David Cutcliffe had a mutual parting at the end of last season. Now under the direction of coach Mike Elko, the Blue Devils go into the season trying to stop a 13-game losing streak in ACC play. Duke’s top player might be linebacker Shaka Heyward from Mill Creek High.

BYE: Oct. 15

GAME 7: Oct. 20 – vs. Virginia (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

The Jackets will return from their only open date of the season for a Thursday game against the Cavaliers, who have lost their past five games at Bobby Dodd Stadium and 10 of their past 12. New coach Tony Elliott is one of four new ACC coaches that Tech will face, Miami’s Mario Cristobal, Virginia Tech’s Brent Pry and Elko being the other three. Tech will need more answers for Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong, who last season shredded the Jackets for 396 yards and four touchdowns in the Cavaliers’ 48-40 win in Charlottesville.

GAME 8: Oct. 29 – at Florida State (TBA)

In Tech’s past two visits to Doak Campbell Stadium (2009 and 2020), the Jackets won thrillers that were interrupted by lengthy lightning delays. Collins undoubtedly would again trade the latter to obtain the former. Like Collins, Florida State coach Mike Norvell starts the season with his job on the line. The Seminoles will be coming off their open date to face Tech.

GAME 9: Nov. 5 – at Virginia Tech (TBA)

The Jackets-Hokies game, which once defined the Coastal Division, will cease being played annually as the ACC adopts its new one-division format starting next season. It will be Tech’s first visit to Lane Stadium, which has one of the two more formidable home-field advantages in the ACC (the other being Clemson) since 2018. However, the Jackets have won in each of their past three trips to Blacksburg.

GAME 10: Nov. 12 – vs. Miami (TBA)

Among the Jackets’ final five games, this will be the only one played at home, making it the first time in team history that Tech has played four of its final five regular-season games away from home. It will be the Jackets’ first look at the Hurricanes as led by Cristobal, who has assembled one of the top coaching staffs in the country and brought in a highly rated transfer class in the latest effort to return Miami to the highest echelon.

GAME 11: Nov. 19 – at North Carolina (TBA)

Tech’s 45-22 win over the Tar Heels (then ranked 21st) last fall is Collins’ only win over a ranked opponent. Coach Mack Brown continues to amass talent in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Tar Heels’ 2022 signing class was ranked 11th nationally, its third consecutive top-15 class. The Tech reunion tour will conclude at North Carolina, with former Tech general manager Patrick Suddes, now an assistant athletic director and general manager at UNC.

GAME 12: Nov. 26 – at Georgia (TBA)

The Bulldogs expect to be pursuing a second consecutive national championship when the archrivals meet at Sanford Stadium. Where Tech will be at that point is the story of its season. The Bulldogs have outscored the Jackets by a combined 97-7 in their past two meetings.