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#STINGDAILY: First Things First

Nov. 19, 2012

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

This is always an antsy week where Georgia Tech football fans spend more time and calories dreaming than in any other. There is a form of interference this year; the Yellow Jackets learned on Monday that they’re going to play in the ACC Championship Game.

That’s fantastic news, of course, and we’ll get around to it in a bit.

Some fans, although not many, need blinders this week to stay on task.

Beating Georgia always ranks, and poking the Bulldogs in the eyes would top many Tech fan charts as a top 5 all-time win. A victory in Athens would do the trick like a stick.

Some Tech fans favor beating UGA over conference matters, and knocking the Bulldogs out when they’re in the national title picture would make a season for many. UGA is No. 3 in the BCS standings, and if the Dogs win their next two games, they’ll be in the national championship game.

If Tech wins Saturday, the Dogs are out. Period.

One would not need to go far to find Tech fans who’d say that’d be bigger than a shot at a conference championship.

Ask the question next week, and perhaps the answer would change, but in a far-from-scientific poll on where the question is . . . If you could choose just two wins from among Tech’s three potential remaining games (the third being a bowl), which two would you chose? . . . the first part of the answer is fairly clear.

It’s a tricky question, to be sure, but winning the Georgia game leads by plenty.

Here are some of the better responses:

“Beat uga and I’ll be so drunk I will not care after that.”

“If Georgia is not your #1 this year then [leave].”

“Beating UGA is better for recruiting, fan outlook, and general perception in state. Plus, we would ruin their shot at playing in the NC game.”

“UGA and the ACCCG game.”

“Umm . . . beating UGA is Tech’s glory. Are you from the state of North Dakota or something?”

Tech head coach Paul Johnson wasn’t asked this question, but in a statement released after Miami self-imposed a post-season ban upon its football program Monday morning to clear the way for Tech to represent the Coastal division in the Dec. 1 ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, he said:

“Playing Florida State for the ACC title is something that we will put on hold until Saturday night. Right now, we are focused on playing the No. 3 team in the nation on the road Saturday.”

There are points to leap into, talking points for your pain-in-the-rump UGA friends.

Tech was 5-3 in the ACC, where Miami and North Carolina are 4-3. Tech beat the Tar Heels, and the Hurricanes play at Duke Saturday.

The ‘Canes may lose, but even if they don’t, the next time a Dog says to you that the Jackets backed into the ACCCG point out that if that’s the case then the Bulldogs backed into BCS title contention – as currently situated.

UGA is No. 3 only because Ohio State (11-0) is ineligible. Period.

Moving on to next week’s game against the Seminoles, against whom Paul Johnson is 2-0 with win in Atlanta in 2008 (31-28) and in Tallahassee in ’09 (49-44) . . .

Three times a 5-3 ACC team has advanced to the conference title game, and twice that squad has won. One of those times, there was no other outcome available.

When Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech tied atop the Coastal division with 5-3 records in 2008, Virginia Tech won the head-to-head tiebreaker and – by the way – won the ACC Championship Game over 5-3 Boston College.

More poignantly, when 7-4/5-3 Florida State won a tiebreaker with Boston College to represent the Atlantic division in 2005, the Seminoles then beat 10-1/7-1 Virginia Tech in the first ACC Championship Game.

By the way, Miami beat Virginia Tech in Coastal action that season, and was lined up to go to the ACCCG until a 14-10 late-season loss – at home – to Georgia Tech scuttled that (Miami’s other loss was in the season opener at Florida State).

Beating FSU next week would send the Jackets to the Orange Bowl for the second time in four seasons. Not every Tech fan would rather beat Georgia than win a BCS bowl game.

Here’s another answer from that poll:

“Beating ugag is not Tech’s glory. I don’t measure my school’s achievement by its success against any particular team. Yes, it will be good to beat ugag, and that is the game I want to win the most among all [non-conference] games. However, BCS bowl win >>>> ugag win.”

Bottom line, it’s great to have both these conversations.

“Playing for an ACC championship was one of our goals when we began the season, so we are pleased that we will have that opportunity,” Johnson said. “I’m proud of our players and coaches who, when things weren’t going too well early, remained focused and determined.”

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