ATLANTA – Eighteenth-ranked Georgia Tech (8-2 overall, 6-2 ACC) concludes the regular season with its annual rivalry game against 19th-ranked Georgia (7-3, 5-3 SEC) as the Yellow Jackets travel to Sanford Stadium in Athens for a 12 noon, nationally-televised contest (CBS-TV; WGCL in Atlanta).
The two teams have met 94 times, beginning in 1893, and the winner of the in-state battle receives the Governor’s Cup.
“From what Ive seen on film, I think this is the most talented team that we have faced since Florida State in terms of size, speed and athletic ability on the field,” said Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary, whose squad has won the last two meetings.
“When I watch them on film offensively, I think they are a talented team. They have big running backs. Quincy [Carter] being injured has curtailed some things, but not a lot. Cory Phillips has gone out there, and he really has a command of what they want to do offensively. Their players seem to respond to him very well. They have enough skilled athletes to be able to do a lot of things. It will be a tough game for us. They do a lot of things on offense and have a lot of different formations, so there are a lot of reads to be made on the defensive side for us.”
For the third straight year, both teams enter their rivalry game nationally-ranked and headed to a bowl game. The Yellow Jackets have accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, while Georgia’s bowl destination will be determined after the SEC Championship.
*I think it’s a great college game with a lot of interest,” said O’Leary. “The last four or five years have been good football games. They have all come down to where they have kept everybody in their seats for the game. I think thats what you want an in-state game to be.”
“We had to beat them to call it a rivalry. It’s like Florida State in our conference, you have to beat them. You have a lot more people interested in the game now. I think it’s a healthy game, and it’s what the state should get — a good football game with two teams that have winning records and are going to bowl games.”
The last five meetings have been decided by a total of 18 points, including wins by Tech in 1999 (51-48 in overtime) and 1998 (21-19) and by Georgia the three previous years, including a three-point victory in 1997 and a one-point win in 1995.
Georgia Tech quarterback George Godsey, a junior from Tampa, Fla., enter the game as the nations fourth-ranked passer with 2.684 yards and 22 touchdowns against only four interceptions.
“I can’t say enough about George Godsey and the progress that he has made,” said O’Leary. “He took the job, ran with it and never looked back. He set the tone this summer and spring when he was named the starter. He’s gotten better and better.”
“You can’t compare Joe Hamilton and George Godsey. Joe made a lot more plays because he got in a lot more trouble. George doesn’t get in as many problems, so he doesn’t have to worry about getting out of them. George has come on, but you cant do it by yourself — the line, the backs and the receivers all have come on, too.”
Looking at the season as a whole, O’Leary is pleased with the progress made by his squad this season, which will lose only three starters on defense and four on offense among a total of only 11 scholarship seniors.
“This was a key year for that,” he said. “Everybody was asking when Joe left, “where’s the stability and the consistency?” This year was the key to answer the bell on that. The coaches and players went out and did a great job this year. As good a player as Joe was, one guy doesn’t make a team. There is growth and consistency in the program, and that’s what you look for as a head coach. You would have hated to come out his year after Joe left and go back to the .500’s, and I thought our team went out and made a statement this year.”