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“Battle of the Techs” Still has Meaning

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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Rather than playing for the usual bid to Charlotte, the Yellow Jackets (3-6) and Hokies (4-5) are simply competing for bowl eligibility and the hopes of keeping their respective lengthy bowl streaks intact.

Few rivalries across the country have been able to produce the annual implications that “The Battle of the Techs” has in the ACC over the past decade.

The yearly contest between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech has, almost without exception, been the game that has decided the Coastal Division championship. In fact, of the ten ACC Championship Games to have been played through the 2014 season, the two schools combined to represent the division in all but one contest (Duke, 2013).

And of those nine seasons in which one of the conference’s technical institutes made it to the league’s championship game, only once did the regular season winner of the “Battle of the Techs” fail to play for an ACC title. In 2012, the Hokies defeated the Yellow Jackets 20-17 in overtime in the season opener, but it was Georgia Tech that would ultimately travel to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game.

With the tremendous history between these two programs since the ACC expanded to add Virginia Tech in 2004, it is easy to understand why ESPN would choose one of the ACC’s best rivalries to be its Thursday night showcase this week.

The good news for ESPN is that these two perennial powers in the Coastal Division still have plenty for which to play this Thursday night.

It is, however, quite a different objective than usual.

Rather than playing for the usual bid to Charlotte, the Yellow Jackets (3-6) and Hokies (4-5) are simply competing for bowl eligibility and the hopes of keeping their respective lengthy bowl streaks intact. The Hokies have competed in postseason competition for 22 straight years, dating back to the 1993 season. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets have made it as bowl game for 18 straight seasons, dating back to the 1997 campaign. Those streaks rank second and third respectively on the list of teams with the most consecutive seasons with a bowl bid nationally, trailing only Florida State (33 straight years).

For Georgia Tech, the program absolutely must pick up a victory in order to have any hope of reaching its 19th straight bowl game. A loss in any of its final three games – Virginia Tech, at Miami and Georgia – would give Georgia Tech seven losses, guaranteeing a losing record.

Following a campaign which saw the Yellow Jackets win 11 contests, reach the AC Championship Game and bring home the Orange Bowl trophy, it is hard to fathom that the program has struggled some mightily this fall. Even with the departure of many key players, Georgia Tech was picked as the preseason favorite in the Coastal Division back at ACC Media Days in July.

Unlike the Yellow Jackets, Virginia Tech would still theoretically be able to overcome a loss on Thursday night in order to make it back to the postseason. In order to do so, though, the Hokies would need consecutive victories over No. 17 North Carolina and rival Virginia, which seems like an unlikely outcome given the team’s play up to this point.

Regardless of how these two teams finish out the regular season, there is no question that both programs will finish the campaign as disappointments.

It would be a meaningful accomplishment, however, for either program to keep its bowl streak alive and well.

In order to do so, a victory in an otherwise meaningless Thursday night contest in Atlanta is a necessity.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.