Nov. 30, 2012
By Jon Cooper
– Georgia Tech will play its biggest game of the season and face its biggest challenge, when it takes on No. 13/12 Florida State in the Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game. Kickoff at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., is at 8 p.m. and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
The Yellow Jackets finished 5-3 in the Coastal Division and, when Miami self-imposed a bowl ban, found itself champions and Charlotte-bound. Head coach Paul Johnson is looking for a big effort, especially coming off a disappointing 42-10 loss at Georgia last weekend.
“It’s been a grind year. I think we expended a lot of energy getting back to where we got at the end,” said Johnson. “The last game is an emotional game with a rival. We would’ve liked to have played better. I’m sure there was disappointment off Saturday, but you’ve got to move forward. They’ve been fairly resilient for a young football team and they’ve bounced back a couple different times when it could’ve gone south. They’ve put forth the energy and fought to come back. I think they realize they have a good opportunity in front of them, and hopefully we’ll prepare that way and go up there and give it our best shot. That’s why you play the game.”
The Seminoles also are coming off a tough loss in their rivalry game, dropping a 37-26 decision to Florida. The Gators ran for 244 yards, the most against an FSU defense since Georgia Tech ran for 401 in the 2009 shootout in Tallahassee.
Tonight will be each team’s third appearance in the ACC Championship but the first against each other. In fact, it’s the Jackets’ first game in Charlotte, period. Both are 1-1, with Tech losing to Wake Forest, 9-6 in 2006, then beating Clemson, 39-34, in 2009. Florida State has never played anyone other than Virginia Tech, winning the inaugural game in 2005, 27-22, then falling in 2010, 44-33, Jimbo Fisher’s first season as head coach.
Here are some numbers to get you ready for tonight’s ACC Championship Game.
The Series: Florida State leads, 12-9-1
Current Streak: Georgia Tech has won two straight
At a Neutral Sites: This is the first meeting
Last Meeting: No. 22/23 Georgia Tech 49, Florida State 44, @ FSU, Oct. 10, 2009
40 – The number being worn this week by redshirt junior safety Jemea Thomas. The number had been worn by linebacker Julian Burnett, who was forced to stop playing due to a neck injury suffered in last year’s Hyundai Sun Bowl. The number has been worn by a different Yellow Jacket every week in tribute. It has been worn by cornerback Rod Sweeting, quarterback Tevin Washington, long snapper Tyler Morgan, defensive end Izaan Cross, linebacker Chris Crenshaw, safety Isaiah Johnson, defensive end T.J. Barnes, again, senior A-Back Jamal Paige, junior outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, and last week by redshirt sophomore inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy.
8 – The number of consecutive years either Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech has represented the Coastal Division in the championship game. The schools are 8-for-8 representing the Coastal and have come out with four wins (although the Jackets win in 2009 has since been vacated).
1 – The number of times the winner of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game DID NOT represent the Coastal Division in the championship game.
1 – The number of sacks needed by junior linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu to break into the top 10 in school history. Attaochu begins play tonight with 17.0 sacks. He’s half a sack behind Tom Johnson (1990-93).
1 – The number of touchdowns needed by quarterback Tevin Washington to move past Jonathan Dwyer and into sole possession of second place on the school’s career touchdown list. Washington begins play tonight tied with Dwyer with 36 TDs. The six points also would move him past Dwyer and into sixth place on the school career scoring list. Dwyer, the hero of the 2009 Championship game against Clemson, finished with 218 career points, Washington has 216.
3- The number times an ACC representative has brought a 5-3 conference record into the Championship Game. Of those teams, 2005 Florida State and 2008 Virginia Tech won the game. Of course in 2008, a 5-3 team was bound to win it, as the Hokies defeated Boston College, which also finished 5-3 in ACC play. The ’05 Seminoles finished tied with Boston College and ended up beating Virginia Tech to win the title.
5- The number of ACC teams that have played in the ACC Championship Game on more than one occasion. The others are Virginia Tech (5), Florida State (2), Boston College (2) and Clemson (2). Wake Forest made it one time, defeating Tech, 9-6, in 2006.
8 – The average number of wins per season by Georgia Tech in the Paul Johnson era should they win today.
11 – The number of offensive categories in which quarterback Tevin Washington ranks in the top 10 in school history. They are rushing TDs by a quarterback (36, first), rushing yards by a QB (2,159, second), rushing touchdowns (36, second), pass efficiency (145.3, second), touchdowns (36, tied for second), TD responsibility (56, fourth), total offense (5,346 yards, 6th), scoring (216 points, seventh), passing yards (3,187, 10th), rushing attempts (516, 10th) and passing touchdowns (20, tied for 10th).
13 – The number of players from Georgia on the Florida State roster.
14 – The number of players from Florida on the Georgia Tech roster.
13 – Sophomore Jamal Golden’s national ranking in kickoff returns (29.0 yards per return).
16 – The number of wins in 26 games for Georgia Tech against top-25 competition on a neutral site. They currently are on a five-game losing streak.
17 – The number of consecutive seasons that the Yellow Jackets have had a player named first-team All-ACC. This year it was guard Omoregie Uzzi. Uzzi, a three-time All-ACC performer is also the only senior on the Offensive line.
18/23 – The number of solo tackles and total tackles over the last three games by redshirt junior safety Jemea Thomas. Thomas starts tonight with 74 tackles, second only to Isaiah Johnson, and with a team-leading 54 solo stops — he leads Johnson by two. Thomas might have caught up to Johnson but the junior safety has 13 solo stops and 22 stops over his last three games.
31 – The number of games out of 58 that Georgia Tech has won in games played in NFL Stadiums.
32 – The number of fourth down conversion attempts by Georgia Tech this season. That’s fourth in the FBS, behind only Air Force (41), Army (40), and Penn State (32). The Jackets converted 19 times, a 59.3 percent success rate.
4 – The number of fourth-down attempts made by FSU this season. They are 1-for-4. Opponents were 11-of-19 against the Seminoles, a 57.8 percent conversion rate.
38 – The number of rushing yards Washington needs to move into the top three among ACC quarterbacks in career rushing yardage, passing Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor (2007-10). He has 2,159 beginning play.
64 – The number of big plays (plays of 20-or-more yards) made by Georgia Tech this season. Of those plays, 13 different Yellow Jackets have contributed to that number.
68.4 – The Yellow Jackets’ percentage of scoring off turnovers. They have 13 scores, 11 of them touchdowns, off 19 opponent turnovers.
196 – The number of consecutive games in which Georgia Tech has scored. The streak began on Oct. 30, 1997, a Thursday night game against North Carolina, which followed a 38-0 shutout loss at Florida State, 12 days earlier.
232 – The number of yards the Yellow Jackets need to rush for tonight to reach 20,000 during Paul Johnson’s tenure at Georgia Tech. That’s the equivalent of 11.36 miles.
10 Things To Know About Florida State
1 – Florida State is the only team in the nation to rank in the top 19 in both total offense (477.42 yards per game) and total defense (249.2 yards allowed per game).
4 – The number of times this season that the Seminoles offense gained better than 600 yards in a game. The ’12 Noles gained 667 yards against Clemson, 649 against Boston College, 612 against Wake Forest, and 606 against Murray State. The Clemson and Boston College games were the eighth- and ninth-biggest days in school history. The three 600-yard games against ACC competition gave FSU 15 in their history in conference play.
24 – The combined number sacks for Bjoern Werner and Cornelius “Tank” Carradine, which rank 1-2 in the ACC. Werner made 39 tackles on the season, but made 18 of them behind the line, with 13 of them sacks, tied for tops in the nation. He also had seven pass break-ups. Carradine led the team with 80 stops and had 13 for loss, with 11 sacks, which rank 14th in the nation. The duo’s sacks and TFLs total (31) ranked them fourth all-time among FSU tandems.
33 – The number of passing yards needed by quarterback EJ Manuel to become the sixth quarterback in Florida State history to crack the 3,000 yards. Manuel already is the school’s career leader in completion percentage (66.6, 558-of-838), and he is a mere 4/10ths of a point behind the ACC’s all-time leader Matt Schaub of Virginia. Manuel has completed 67.4 percent of his throws this season (221-for-328) and ranks eighth in the nation in passing efficiency (160.01). Against Clemson, he became only the second FSU QB to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 in the same game.
7.09 – The number average yards per play gained by the Florida State offense. That’s second in the country behind only Oklahoma State (7.10). Their 5.57 yards per rush ranks seventh in the nation, only a shade below Georgia Tech’s 5.60.
27.2 – The conversion rate on third down by Florida State opponents. That’s second in the nation.
29 – The number of wins in the three seasons under Jimbo Fisher. That’s 10th among FBS schools in that time period, is more than any school in the ACC and would beat everyone but Alabama and LSU in the SEC. Tonight will be the Seminoles’ first meeting with Georgia Tech in the Fisher Era.
37 – The number of consecutive games in which senior wide receiver Rodney Smith has caught a pass. Smith’s steak currently ranks as the eighth-longest in the nation and is one off the school record set by E.G. Green (1994-97).
78 – The Seminoles defense leads the nation in forcing opposing offenses into 78 three-and-out series. That’s a 48.1 percent rate, also tops in the nation.
92 – The Seminoles’ percentage of scoring in the red zone. FSU, which scored on 59 of 64 visits, started the year converting 22 of its first 22, ended the year going 3-for-3 against Florida, and had eight games in which they were perfect.