Nov. 9, 2011
Just when you thought the Georgia Tech season couldn’t get any more dramatic, following the Clemson game, in comes Virginia Tech.
It’s Thursday night and prime time at Bobby Dodd, for the second straight week.
“It’s a huge challenge again this week,” said Head Coach Paul Johnson Monday morning at his weekly press conference. “Another top-10 team coming in. So it’s a big game. I’m looking forward to it on Thursday night. Hopefully we’ll have a big crowd, great atmosphere and be ready to go.”
How big is this one? For the second time in three years (the third time in the series) both teams are ranked. For the seventh straight season, the game will have a major impact on who represents the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game, as the Hokies currently lead Georgia Tech by one game. Since 2005, when the ACC implemented a conference championship game, the winner of Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech has gone to the title game (Virginia also is in the mix at 3-2 in the conference and hosts Va. Tech the final week of the season.).
The Yellow Jackets are coming off their bye week, but are still riding the emotional high gained from their 31-17 victory over Clemson, the BCS’s fifth-ranked team (they had been 6th in AP and USA Today/Coaches). The Yellow Jackets offense snapped out of a two-week funk, rolling up 443 total yards, 383 of them on the ground. Quarterback Tevin Washington led the way, rushing for 176 yards, setting a school single-game-record by a quarterback. He had a career-high 46-yard run in the first half, then topped that with a 56-yarder in the second half. David Sims added an 11-yard TD run and gained some tough yards. The defense, limited Clemson, who had scored 115 points in its previous two games, to 17 points, and 95 rushing yards. They also won the turnover battle, recovering two fumbles and making two interceptions against one of the top turnover-margin teams in the nation. Jemea Thomas caused one fumble and had the first two interceptions of his career in his first career start.
The Hokies, also coming off their bye week, made it four straight wins their last time out, but did it the hard way, holding off a stubborn Duke team, 14-10, at Wallace Wade Stadium. Tech converted 85- and 90-yard scoring marches in the first half, and rolled up 433 yards of offense, 148 of them by tailback David Wilson. But in the second half, the Hokies rode their defense to victory, holding off the Blue Devils, who could score only three points despite running 27 of 35 plays on Tech’s side of midfield, and 20 of those from inside the 30. Sophomore corner Kyle Fuller was all over the field, recording eight stops, including a sack and a tackle-for-loss, and stopping a fourth-and-two play at the 18. He also broke up three passes and recovered a fumble.
Georgia Tech trails 5-3 in the series, but has broken even at Bobby Dodd in the schools’ four meetings, including the unforgettable 28-23 victory on Oct. 17, 2009, when the Jackets upset the No. 4 Hokies on their way to the ACC Championship. Oddly, the other most memorable game in the series was one that was never played — the season-opener in 2000, when lightening and horrific weather forced a cancellation of their meeting in the BCA Bowl in Blacksburg.
Tonight’s game will be televised on ESPN, with Rece Davis, Craig James and Jesse Palmer calling the action with Jenn Brown reporting from the sidelines. ESPN Radio will carry the game, with Bill Rosinski, David Norrie and Joe Schad on the call. Of course, Tech fans can listen on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, with Wes Durham and former Tech QB Rick Strom calling the action. The game can also be heard via satellite radio, on Channel 91 for both Sirius and XM. Fans can log onto RamblinWreck.com to get live stats.
Here now some prime (and composite) numbers for Thursday night’s prime time affair!
.833 – The combined winning percentage of Tech’s two remaining home opponents — No. 10 (BCS) Virginia Tech is 8-1 and No. 15 (BCS) Georgia, 7-2.
2 – The number of wins in two tries against ranked teams by the Yellow Jackets in 2011. They’ve already beaten No. 25 North Carolina and No. 6 Clemson.
6 – The number of wins by Georgia Tech at home against ranked teams under Paul Johnson.
3 – The number of times in the last four games that quarterback Tevin Washington has rushed for 100 yards. He’s totaled 411 yards in those games against Maryland (120), Virginia (115) and Clemson (176).
3 – The number of home losses by Georgia Tech in 14 games against Coastal Division opponents since 2005. They came against Virginia Tech, 27-3, in 2007 (a Thursday night game), in 2008, 24-17, against Virginia, and last year, 35-10, vs. Miami.
3 – The number of wins by Georgia Tech in the series when they are ranked. They are 2-0 when both teams are ranked. No. 7 Tech topped Virginia Tech, 6-3, on Nov. 10, 1990, the first match-up in the series. Since then, when both teams were ranked, the No. 24 Yellow Jackets beat No. 11/10 Va. Tech, 38-27,on Sept. 30, 2006 at Lane Stadium, and the 19/20 Jackets upset the No. 4 Hokies, 28-23, on Oct. 17, 2009 at Bobby Dodd.
7 – The number of catches by Stephen Hill over 40 yards. That accounts for 35 percent of his receptions. Three plays have gone for over 70 yards.
10 – The number of wins over the last three years by Georgia Tech against teams that have had more than seven days to prepare. That includes a 3-1 record this season.
11 – The number of interceptions this season by Georgia Tech. Last season they had eight all season.
15 – The combined margin of victory in the series over the last three meetings. Georgia Tech lost 20-17 in 2008 and 28-21 last year in Blacksburg, and won, 28-23, in ’09 at Bobby Dodd.
93 – The combined margin of victory in the series’ four previous games once Virginia Tech joined the ACC in 2004. The Jackets lost 34-20 at home in ’04, then 51-7 away in 2005, won 38-27 away in 2006, but lost 27-3 in 2007.
45/80 – Washington’s rushing yards (on 11 carries) and passing yards (on 2-for-7 with one interception) in last year’s game at Virginia Tech. The game marked Washington’s debut as the starter, as he took over late in the first half following an injury to Joshua Nesbitt.
52 – the Number of years since Georgia Tech last beat top-10 teams in back-to-back games. That year they topped No. 6 Clemson, 16-6, at home, then won, 14-7, at No. 8 Tennessee. Bobby Dodd’s Jackets were ranked seventh and third in those games.
Five Things to Know About Virginia Tech (and one about big hands and big feet)
3 – The number of wins in three meetings against Georgia Tech on Thursday night. The Hokies won, 34-20, as the No. 22 team in 2004 and 27-3 in 2007, ranked 11th, both at Bobby Dodd. Last year. ranked 20th, they won, 28-21, at Lane Stadium.
6/4.29/10 – The number of consecutive games in which tailback David Wilson has run for at least 100 yards. That’s the longest such streak in the quarter-century Frank Beamer has been Virginia Tech’s head coach. Part of what makes him so hard to stop is his speed — he runs a 4.29 40 — and his athleticism, as he won the Triple Jump at the Penn Relays and did 10 consecutive standing back flips during media day.
39 – The number of games out of 49 career games that senior wide receiver Jarrett Boykin has caught at least two passes. He’s caught at least one in 45 of 49. Boykin is the school’s career leader in receptions with 161 catches and receiving yards with 2,604.
47 – The number of points Virginia Tech has allowed in its four road games — all victories — this season. They allowed 10 apiece at East Carolina (a 17-10 win), Marshall (30-10), and Duke (14-10) and 17 at Wake Forest (38-17).
224/350 – The number of interceptions and turnovers gained for Virginia Tech since 2000 under Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster. That’s 16 more INTs than the nearest team (Boston College) and includes the Hokies’ current run of 28 picks in the last 16 games. As for overall turnovers, their 350 are second, only seven fewer than leader Oklahoma.
17/3X – The cleat size for Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (he wears a size 18 regular shoe) and the glove size of Boykin. Thomas may have had big shoes to fill figuratively in replacing 2010 ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor, but it’s doubtful that Taylor, or too many players in all of the FBS could full his shoes. Boykin’s big hands make him a big target, and Thomas knows he’s the one.