Nov. 21, 2011
Georgia Tech, which has exceeded all expectations with one of the nation’s youngest rosters, hosts SEC East Division champion Georgia, Saturday in the 106th all-time meeting between the two teams (12:01 p.m./ESPN).
The Yellow Jackets, 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the ACC, are ranked 25th in the Associated Press poll and 21st in the USA Today Coaches poll following a 38-31 win at Duke on Saturday. Tech rolled up 549 yards of total offense and rushed for five touchdowns in the win.
Tech’s offense continues to put up huge numbers under fourth-year coach Paul Johnson. The Jackets rank second nationally in rushing (323.6) and third-down percentage (56.1), and sixth in passing efficiency (163.3).
Georgia, 9-2 and 7-1 in the SEC, has reeled off nine consecutive wins following an 0-2 start. The Bulldog defense limited Kentucky to 23 rushing yards and forced four Wildcat turnovers in a 19-10 win on Saturday.
Georgia, ranked 13th (AP) and 14th (USA Today), will play a week from Saturday in the SEC Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Bulldogs have averaged 42.3 points over the last three games, and UGA’s defense is ranked among the nation’s best.
Georgia leads the all-time series, 61-39-5, including two straight wins and nine victories in the last 10 meetings with the Yellow Jackets.
Tech Milestones Within Reach
Georgia Tech, which will play in a bowl game for the 15th consecutive year, has milestones within reach:
– The Yellow Jackets have a chance for a 10-win season for the second time in three years (Tech went 11-3 in 2009). Prior to 2009, the Jackets’ last 10-win season came in 1998. To reach double-digit victories, Tech would need to beat Georgia and then win its bowl game.
– Tech is attempting to be just the fourth Yellow Jacket team in the last 55 years to win 10 games.
– With a win Saturday, Tech would have nine wins for the third time in four seasons under Paul Johnson and for the 10th time in the last 55 years.
– If Virginia loses to Virginia Tech Saturday, the Jackets will finish tied for second in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
– Tech is attempting to win six home games in a season for the fourth time in the last 20 years.
– The Jackets are on pace to produce 6,000 yards of total offense for the first time in school history.
Noting The Yellow Jackets
– Georgia Tech ranks in the top 20 nationally in 10 different categories: rushing (2nd), passing efficiency (6th), punt return defense (12th), fewest penalties (12th), tackles for loss allowed (13th), fewest penalty yards (13th), total offense (16th), fewest interceptions thrown (16th), fewest sacks allowed (16th) and scoring offense (17th).
– Georgia Tech is one of just four FBS schools rushing for more than 300 yards per game, and the Yellow Jackets are one of 10 teams that have converted at least 50 percent of their third-down attempts.
– There are just 10 scholarship seniors on the Tech roster (11 total). Those seniors will play their final game in Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.
– The Yellow Jackets have produced eight one-play touchdown drives. Last season Tech had zero.
– Tech has produced seven touchdown drives of 90 yards or longer, which are the most by any team nationally. The Jackets have six TD drives that lasted seven minutes or longer.
– Smith averages 10.8 yards per carry and has rushed for a touchdown once every 5.3 carries (10 TDs, 53 attempts).
– Nine of junior Stephen Hill’s 23 receptions have been of 40 yards or longer, including three 70 yards or longer.
– Junior linebacker Julian Burnett ranks third in the ACC and 28th nationally in tackles (103). He has 42 more tackles than any other Tech player.
– Coach Paul Johnson is 12-3 at Tech in games decided by five points or less.
– Tech has thrown at least two touchdown passes in a game four times this season (but no TD passes since Oct. 1). Last season it had one game with two TD passes (at Wake Forest).
– Tech has had a 100-yard receiver four times and a 100-yard rusher six times this season.
– Tech is the only school in the nation to produce a 1,300-yard rusher in each of the previous five seasons, although that streak will end this season.
– The Yellow Jackets have played 10 true freshmen – DB/PR Zach Laskey, LB Kyle Travis, LB Tremayne McNair, LB Nick Menocal, CB Jamal Golden, OL Shaq Mason, WR Jeff Greene, WR Darren Waller, DB Corey Dennis and LS Sean Tobin.
– Tech has used two players to kickoff (Justin Moore, David Scully), two placekickers (Moore and Scully), two punters (Sean Poole, Chandler Anderson), four kick returners (Orwin Smith, Tony Zenon, Roddy Jones, Embry Peeples) and two punt returners (Zach Laskey and Jemea Thomas).
– The Jackets are out-scoring opponents 115-48 in the first quarter and 104-30 in the third quarter, but are being out-scored 103-66 in the fourth quarter.
– Tech has had 130 offensive possessions this season and has scored 54 touchdowns.
– Georgia Tech is bowl-eligible for the 15th consecutive year — tied for the fourth-longest current streak nationally.
– Tech began the season 6-0 for the first time since 1966 and 3-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2006.
Jackets Have Exceeded Expectations
Prior to the start of the season, Georgia Tech was picked to finish fourth in the ACC Coastal Division. The Yellow Jackets can finish as high as a tie for second place if Virginia loses to Virginia Tech Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish fourth in the ACC by Lindy’s, Blue Ribbon Yearbook and Phil Steele.
In its preseason poll of all FBS teams, Rivals ranked Georgia Tech No. 65.
Brutal Tough Home Schedule
Georgia Tech will play its third consecutive home game against a nationally-ranked opponent. In fact, Saturday’s game against 13th-ranked Georgia will be Tech’s third straight home game against teams ranked 13th or higher.
The Yellow Jackets beat sixth-ranked Clemson (Oct. 29) and lost to 10th-ranked Virginia Tech (Nov. 10).
The last time Tech hosted three consecutive ranked teams in Bobby Dodd Stadium came in 1992. The last time the Jackets hosted three straight opponents ranked 13th or higher came in 1959.
A fourth home opponent, North Carolina, was not ranked in the AP poll, but was ranked 25th in the Coaches poll, when the two teams met back in September.