“Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” is Renewed
By David England
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If the past few seasons are any indication, we should be prepared for offensive fireworks in Athens.
The schools are 45 minutes apart, have an undeniable hatred for each other, and bragging rights for the year are on the line. "Clean, Old-fashioned Hate" feels different than any other game, and the battle for Peach State supremacy is one that the two fine institutions look forward to all season long. Throw out records and the stats for this rivalry, because when one team is playing very well, as Georgia is right now, this matchup throws a wrench in everything.
Georgia has won nine of the last ten meetings with Tech. The last victory for the Yellow Jackets came in 2008, as Georgia Tech rallied in the second half to pull off the three point upset in Sanford Stadium. In Athens, the Bulldogs hold a 29-13-1 advantage, and have won four of the last five (2008 being the lone exception). All-time, Georgia leads the series 62-39-5, and is currently embarked on a three-game winning streak.
On paper, Georgia has a significant advantage through the air and on the defensive side of the ball, while Georgia Tech holds the advantage on the ground. The Yellow Jackets have showed the option offense working at its finest over the past three games, totaling over 1,000 yards on the ground. The Bulldogs are on an incredible streak, rattling off five wins in a row, including a victory over then No. 2 Florida in Jacksonville. The five-game streak has also seen Aaron Murray find his stride, and Georgia is averaging over 250 yards per game through the air over that span.
The two contrasting styles of play offer a great game on Saturday, and some are predicting a huge upset by Georgia Tech. The game will ultimately come down to which team can limit the big plays, and the Bulldogs rank 18th in the country in scoring defense and 20th in total defense. Georgia Tech must slow down an incredible front seven led by All-SEC Jarvis Jones, who can wreak havoc in the backfield and is a matchup nightmare for lineman and backs. The good news for the Jackets is that Georgia ranks 49th in rushing defense, and gave up over 300 yards rushing to FCS opponent Georgia Southern.
Over the past five meetings, though, offense has been the name of the game, with the winning team scoring at least 30 points. The rivalry has been a meeting of talented teams, as in 14 of the past 15 meetings, at least one of the two teams has been nationally ranked. Also, in three of the the past seven meetings, both teams have been ranked.
The Bulldogs will look to establish the "Gurshall" combo early, forcing Georgia Tech to play the run so Murray can open it up in the passing game. Gurley and Marshall have combined for over 1,500 yards and 18 total touchdowns as true freshmen.
For Georgia Tech, the ground game is without a doubt a bright spot, but look for Robert Godhigh to play more snaps, as he stepped up in a big way against Duke last week. The homerun threat for Tech will be Orwin Smith, who is averaging over nine yards per carry in his career, which leads the nation. With the quarterback duo of Tevin Washington and Vad Lee, the Bulldogs have a matchup nightmare on their hands.
For a matchup known as "Clean, Old-fashioned Hate", you can expect a nail-biter in the 106th matchup. Georgia Tech will be looking to ruin the national title hopes for the Bulldogs, while Georgia looks to control its path to Miami.
Score Prediction: Georgia 38, Georgia Tech 27