Oct. 28, 2007
Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech Take Center Stage Thursday
Georgia Tech, which won its last two games but is missing its two top running backs, hosts Virginia Tech Thursday in a nationally-televised game at Bobby Dodd Stadium (7:30 p.m./ESPN).
The Yellow Jackets, 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the ACC, have not played since what proved to be a costly 34-10 win over Army on October 20th. Georgia Tech’s top two running backs — seniors Tashard Choice, the ACC’s leading rusher, and Rashaun Grant — both suffered injuries against the Black Knights.
Choice, who averages a league-best 108 yards rushing per game, is not expected to play against Virginia Tech with an injured knee. Grant, who ran for 119 yards against Army and was expected to make his first starting assignment since 2004, suffered a lower leg injury and may miss the remainder of the regular season.
Virginia Tech, 6-2 and 3-1, enters Thursday’s game following a heart-breaking 14-10 loss to No. 2-ranked Boston College last Thursday in Blacksburg. The Hokies led 10-0 in the fourth quarter, but BC quarterback Matt Ryan orchestrated two touchdown drives in the final 4:16 including the game-winner with 11 seconds remaining.
Despite the loss to Boston College, 11th-ranked Virginia Tech (13th in USA Today) still controls its destiny in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.
Both schools are regulars on ESPN’s Thursday night package. The Yellow Jackets are making their 20th appearance since 1991, while the Hokies are an impressive 13-3 all-time on Thursdays.
Thursday’s meeting will be just the fifth between the two schools. The series is tied, 2-2. Georgia Tech won last year’s meeting, 38-27, in Blacksburg.
Thursday Night Notebook
– Georgia Tech will play in an ESPN Thursday Night game for the ACC-leading 20th time, where it has posted a 9-10 record.
– The Yellow Jackets played in the first ACC, ESPN-televised Thursday night game when the they hosted Virginia in 1991 (24-21 Tech win). That game, the first of more than 90 Thursday night ACC games on ESPN, came down to the last play — a 33-yard field goal by Tech’s Scott Sisson that won the game.
– Tech’s highest-rated Thursday night game was a 19-14 loss to Arizona in Atlanta on Sept. 1, 1994, drawing a 5.0 rating. The Jackets’ first Thursday night ESPN game, vs. Virginia in 1991, drew a 3.90 rating.
– The Jackets and Hokies will be meeting on Thursday night for the second time. The last meeting, on Oct. 28, 2004, resulted in a 34-20 Virginia Tech victory in Atlanta.
– The Yellow Jackets are 8-6 at home and 1-4 on the road in ESPN Thursday night games.
What A Yellow Jacket Victory Would Do
– Georgia Tech, with a win Thursday, would be bowl-eligible for the 11th consecutive season.
– A Yellow Jacket victory would pull them up to .500 in the ACC for the first time this season. Tech has finished .500 or better in ACC play 12 consecutive seasons — the longest current streak.
– A Tech win wouldn’t guarantee a winning season overall, but it would pull the Yellow Jackets within one victory of their 11th consecutive winning season.
– A Jacket victory would keep Tech at least mathematically alive for a Coastal Division title and a second straight appearance in the ACC championship game.
Yellow Jackets’ History vs. Nationally-Ranked Teams
– Georgia Tech is 1-1 vs. nationally-ranked teams this season. The Yellow Jackets lost at home to No. 21 Boston College (24-10) and won at home against No. 13 Clemson (13-3).
– The win over Clemson was Tech’s first at home against a ranked team since topping 17th-ranked Auburn on Sept. 6, 2003.
– The Yellow Jackets are looking to win two games at home against ranked teams in the same season for the first time since 1992 when they beat 16th-ranked Clemson and 21st-ranked NC State in back-to-back weeks.
– Tech is 4-5 all-time against teams ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll.
– Georgia Tech is 8-15 vs. nationally-ranked opponents in six seasons under Chan Gailey. Six of those wins have come on the road.
– Tech is 41-69-4 all-time at home against ranked teams and 79-149-6 all-time against ranked teams, regardless of site.
Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech Series History
– The all-time series is tied, 2-2.
– At least one of the two teams has been nationally-ranked in all four previous meetings. Last year, both teams were ranked in the top 25.
– Georgia Tech won the most recent meeting, played in Blacksburg on Sept. 30, 2006, 38-27.
– Last year’s win came one season after the Hokies posted a 51-7 blowout of the Jackets in Blacksburg on Sept. 24, 2005.
– The two Techs will meet in Atlanta for the first time since Oct. 28, 2004 when Virginia Tech beat Georgia Tech, 34-20, on a Thursday night.
– Georgia Tech won the first meeting between the two teams on Nov. 10, 1990, 6-3, in Atlanta. That win gave the Yellow Jackets an 8-0-1 record en route to a co-national championship.
– Only that first meeting between the two teams was close. The last three meetings have been decided by an average of 23 points.
– Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey is 1-2 all-time vs. Virginia Tech.
– Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has been a part of all four previous meetings between the Hokies and Yellow Jackets, posting a 2-2 record.
– The two teams were scheduled to meet in 2000 in Blacksburg, but the game was cancelled because of poor weather.
– Georgia Tech has just one player on its roster — running back Trevor Bray (Chesapeake) — from the commonwealth of Virginia.
– Virginia Tech has three players on its roster from Georgia: Tim Pisano (Milton), Dorian Porch (Calhoun), Sergio Render (Newnan).
– The Hokies’ Pisano and Georgia Tech fullback Matt Kamp both attended Milton High School in Alpharetta.
– Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta and Virginia Tech assistant coach Jim Cavanaugh were on the same coaching staff at Maryland in 1983.
– Two years earlier, in 1981, Tenuta and Cavanaugh were on the same coaching staff at Virginia.
– Former Hokies DeAngelo Hall and Jimmy Williams play here in Atlanta for the Falcons.
Two Senior Backs Likely Out With Injuries
Georgia Tech received a double dose of bad news on the injury front following the Oct. 20 win over Army.
Senior running backs Tashard Choice and Rashaun Grant, listed 1-2, respectively, on the depth chart, suffered injuries.
Choice, the ACC’s leading rusher (108 ypg) for the second straight year, is not expected to play against Virginia Tech with a right knee injury. He could play the final two or three games of the regular season.
Grant, who ran for 119 yards against Army, suffered a lower leg injury against the Black Knights and he may miss the remainder of the regular season.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Yellow Jacket offense. In addition to Choice and Grant, the offensive line has been without starting guard Nathan McManus the last two games. Sophomore tackles A.J. Smith and Cord Howard and junior guard Jacob Lonowski have all been slowed by injuries. Junior receiver James Johnson missed one game with an injury. Tight end Brad Sellers has missed the entire season with an injury.
Evans Or Dwyer Could Get First Career Start vs. Hokies
With seniors Tashard Choice and Rashaun Grant likely out for Thursday’s game against Virginia Tech, the Yellow Jackets will turn to both sophomore Jamaal Evans and true freshman Jonathan Dwyer.
Evans has rushed 21 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns this season. Dwyer has carried 48 times for 281 yards and seven touchdowns.
Battle Of Techs Features Two Of ACC’s Top Defenses
The Nov. 1 meeting between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will be a battle between two of the best defenses in college football:
Georgia Tech (allowing just 15.5 points per game) and Virginia Tech (15.75) are the ACC’s two stingiest defenses. The Yellow Jackets rank sixth nationally in scoring defense and the Hokies eighth.
Both teams rank in the top 15 nationally in total defense. Georgia Tech (287.9 ypg) ranks seventh and Virginia Tech (304.0) ranks 15th.
Both the Yellow Jackets (allowing 87.0 yards per game rushing) and the Hokies (89.75 ypg) are holding opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. Georgia Tech ranks 8th nationally and Virginia Tech 9th nationally in rushing defense.