GA Tech Looking to End Bulldogs CFP Hopes

Writer Brian Pohl
​Atlanta, GA- It’s rivalry week in college football, which for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and 7th ranked Georgia Bulldogs means the return of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate, as the two teams square off for their annual matchup in the fight for the Governor’s Cup.

The Yellow Jackets will look to play spoilers to the Bulldogs, who are looking to keep their College Football Playoff dreams alive on Saturday. The 112th matchup between these long-standing rivals will come to a head on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, as one of the most intense rivalries in college football is renewed.

During his weekly press conference, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson spoke about the rivalry and what his message to his team was heading into Saturday, “It’s like I told them on Monday, this is a game that you’ll remember for a long time, especially if you win.” Johnson continued, “It’s really important to our players, to our alumni, to people in general, that you play well. You’ve got to go out and play with some intensity and try to play your best game.”

The Jackets, who are coming off a tough loss to Duke last week, will indeed need to play the best game of their season if they are to upset the Bulldogs for the second-straight year. Last year’s thrilling victory for Georgia Tech saw the Jackets rally from a 27-14 fourth quarter deficit, capped off by a Qua Searcy touchdown in the final 30 seconds of the game to seal the victory.

If Georgia Tech is to be victorious they will need great play from their quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who was a bright spot for the Jackets despite last week’s loss. Rushing for 140-yards and surpassing 1,000 yards rushing for the season, Marshall, along with sophomore running back KirVonte Benson gives Georgia Tech two 1,000-yard rushers for just the second time in school history. Something to look out for on Saturday is that Marshall needs only 13-yards rushing to break Georgia Techs single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback.

Defensively, the Jackets need a bounce-back performance after last week’s loss. Allowing eight scores on ten total possessions, including 500 total yards, Georgia Tech needs to return to form if they are going to slow down a Georgia offense who is averaging 35.3 points per game on the season.

Despite last week’s performance, the Georgia Tech defense still ranks as the fourth-best defense in the ACC and 29th nationally in total defense, allowing 342.6 yards per game. Led by an experienced secondary, including four starting seniors, the Jackets need these seniors to step up on Senior Day to slow down the big play ability of the Georgia Offense.

The Bulldogs, who are coming off a bounce-back performance of their own after their 42-13 victory over Kentucky last week, will look to regain control of the Governor’s Cup on Saturday, and head into the SEC Championship with momentum and a shot to reach the College Football Playoffs for the first time in school history.

Led offensively by the running back duo of seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the Bulldogs rank second in the SEC in rushing offense with 267.4 yards per game. The running attack is key for the Bulldogs, who use it to open up the offense for Freshman starting quarterback Jake Fromm. Fromm has been impressive in his first season at Georgia, leading the team to 9-1 in games he has started and 10-1 overall on the season.

The defense for Georgia has been key to the team’s success under second-year head coach Kirby Smart. Allowing just 14.4 points per game this season, the Bulldogs rank fourth nationally in scoring defense and will look to keep Georgia Tech, who is known for long sustaining drives, off of the field as much as possible on Saturday.

An experienced group throughout, the Georgia defense needs a big performance from its interior defense to slow down the triple-option offense of Georgia Tech. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy will be keys for the Bulldogs, and will both have major responsibilities in slowing down the Yellow Jacket offense.

The last four meetings in this rivalry have been decided by a touchdown or less. Coach Johnson spoke about the close matchups saying, “Other than the one year here that they were really good [2012], the games have been pretty close. I think that’s indicative of a rivalry game. I couldn’t tell you why other than it’s a rivalry game and both teams want to play and it’s a big deal.”

Georgia may lead the overall series with a record of 65-41-5 over Georgia Tech, but there is no love lost between the two universities, and Saturday will feature some Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Georgia Bulldogs will kick-off at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday from Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, GA.

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