Why Georgia Tech Will Beat Georgia
By Matthew Osborne
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Georgia Tech is poised to pull off a monumental upset which would completely derail the dreams of Bulldogs fans.
Just when it finally seemed like we had a firm understanding of the national championship picture, a pair of unexpected upsets have opened up a wide realm of possibilities for the impending title bout in Miami on January 7.
With Kansas State and Oregon both falling from the ranks of the undefeated, leaving Notre Dame and an ineligible Ohio State as the lone teams in the FBS without a blemish on their record, a number of teams have crept back in to championship contention.
One of the primary benefactors of this past weekend’s happenings is the University of Georgia.
Thought to be out of the national title hunt following an embarrassing 35-7 defeat at the hands of South Carolina, the Bulldogs have handled their business in impressive fashion as of late, affording themselves with the luxury of “controlling their own destiny”.
Naturally, the contest on which the vast majority of Georgia fans are focusing their attention is the upcoming contest with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
Before the Bulldogs get to that showdown with the Alabama, in what most experts are projecting to essentially be for a berth to the National Championship Game, Georgia must first survive another edition of “Clean, Old-fashioned Hate” against Georgia Tech.
While most national and region pundits are basically overlooking the significance of Georgia’s rivalry game with the Yellow Jackets, choosing instead to focus the attention on the matchup in Atlanta on December 1, Georgia Tech is poised to pull off a monumental upset which would completely derail the dreams of Bulldogs fans, who have been waiting for a national title for over three decades.
Here are four reasons why Georgia Tech will pull off the shocking upset on Saturday.
Sure, it is easy to say that Georgia will be highly motivated due to the fact that a spot in the National Championship Game is on the line, but people throughout the entirety of Bulldog Nation seem to inexplicably be looking past the regular season finale.
Although Georgia Tech’s season got off to a disappointing start, the Yellow Jackets have played much better football of late, winning three straight games behind a powerful offense which has averaged over 47 points per game during that span. Now having earned a spot in the ACC Championship Game against Florida State, the Yellow Jackets have a renewed enthusiasm coming down the home stretch.
It is also important to keep in mind how each of these teams views the other school. Georgia has a number of historical rivalries, and many Bulldogs fans would argue that Georgia Tech does not top the list of most hated rivals. For Georgia Tech, however, the Bulldogs are their one and only rival.
“Well, this is definitely a special week. This is the week that you hear about all year round. It’s kind of the rivalry that it’s really 365 days a year,” former Georgia Tech A-back Roddy Jones commented. “There’s definitely some genuine dislike there.”
The motivation of accomplishing a memorable feat is tremendous, but the motivation of preventing your arch-enemy from achieving its goal is even greater. At this point in the season, Georgia Tech would love nothing more than to keep the hated Bulldogs from attaining their national championship aspirations.
“Oh man, that would put the icing on the cake,” former Yellow Jackets wide receiver Tyler Melton said about the possibility of beating Georgia. “All of us old guys are talking that opportunity. Pretty much the last time that Georgia was ranked that high and we played them, we took them down.”
2. The Option Offense
Experts and fans continually remind us of the keys to stopping Georgia Tech’s spread option attack, yet the Yellow Jackets just keep piling up the yardage and the points.
A common argument has been that defenses will fare better against Paul Johnson’s offense once they have had a couple of season to adjust. Well, to take away the validity of that theory, you need to do no more than examine Tech’s offensive output against divisional opponents this season. In its five Coastal Division games, Tech averaged an astonishing 43.8 points per game.
Needless to say, Georgia’s “familiarity” with the offense should not prove to be an overwhelming advantage this Saturday.
“When we get rolling a little bit, and coach has got a rhythm calling the plays, and the guys are really executing the way we know we can execute, we feel like we should score every time we touch the ball,” Jones remarked earlier this week.
Facing a triple option team in Georgia Southern in its most recent game, Georgia frequently had problems slowing down the option offense, allowing the FCS Eagles to rush for over 300 yards in Sanford Stadium.
Though Paul Johnson has taken a lot of undeserved criticism for his ability as a head coach, he has long been renowned for his ability to come up with excellent game plans for his offense. Georgia may have had a game in which they could practice against an option offense, but Paul Johnson now has film to see how to attack the Bulldogs’ option defense.
3. Emotions and Pressure
As much as there is a tremendous amount of excitement generating around the Georgia program, there is also now an increasing amount of pressure to perform. The Bulldogs have not won a national championship since 1980, and with the recent successes of their conference brethren, the Dawgs are frantically scrapping for a chance to bring home the hardware.
Such an overload of passion and intensity often leads to unnecessary pressure and anxiety.
“I mean, emotionally, everything is on edge,” said Melton of playing in a rivalry game in which the stakes are high. “With the emotions, you have to keep everything in check, because you might over-step the little things because you are so focused on running as fast as you can or this or that.”
Certain teams head into big games with an amazing calmness and confidence. For all of the Bulldogs’ recent successes, the team still has usually underperformed when the pressure has been high over the last two seasons.
This factor has already been alluded to, but its importance cannot be overstated.
It will be very easy for Georgia’s players to get swept up in all of the glitz and glamor surrounding the SEC Championship Game contest with the Crimson Tide.
That is not to say that the Bulldogs will not prepare for the Yellow Jackets this week. Rather, it is to insinuate that the Bulldogs may not prepare with the same gusto with which the Yellow Jackets are preparing.
In the end, this will be the factor that makes the biggest difference.
“Georgia Tech will win this game on Saturday strictly because Georgia is overlooking them. They’re not anticipating us coming in, and we’re riding this wave of momentum coming in, and we’re going to give them our best shot,” Melton confidently stated. “I really think we’re going to come away with this win again.”