Nov. 29, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
No. 16 Georgia Tech wraps up its 2014 regular season with a date between the hedges against No. 9 Georgia. Kickoff at Sanford Stadium is set for noon and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.
As always, Georgia Tech-Georgia, which since 1995 has been for the Governor’s Cup Trophy, is a big game and, this year, is one in which the Yellow Jackets want desperately to reverse recent fortunes.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to have another shot at them. We haven’t had a lot of success against them lately,” said Head Coach Paul Johnson. “Truthfully, the last few years we’ve let a couple get away from us that I thought we could have won.”
The Jackets have had two weeks to prepare for the Bulldogs, as they are coming off their second bye week of the season.
Their last time out, Tech rolled it up, beating Clemson, 28-6, at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech’s defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns, including an 85-yarder by free safety Jamal Golden, that turned a 3-0 deficit into a 6-3 lead. Corner Chris Milton added a 62-yard pick-six in the third quarter to put the game on ice. The defense shut down the Tigers, holding them to 131 rushing yards and 3-of-13 on third down. B-Back Synjyn Days led the offense with 89 yards rushing, while wide receiver DeAndre Smelter had a game-high five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Georgia tuned up for Tech by blasting Charleston Southern, 55-9, at Sanford Stadium. Freshman running back Nick Chubb ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including an 83-yarder as part of a first-quarter burst that saw Georgia score on two of its first three offensive plays. UGA led 38-3 at the half and 55-3 after three, before allowing a score early in the fourth (they’d stop the two-point conversion). QB Hutson Mason was 10-of-12 for 187 yards, with three touchdowns.
Tech hopes to ruin Senior Day at UGA, while its seniors continue what Johnson declared already is a special season. Tech’s head coach refused to put any extra emphasis on the game, but admits that everyone knows that the result will have repercussions for the next 364 days.
“It’s a huge game. Like any rivalry game, [it’s] bragging rights,” Johnson said. “Clearly there’s a lot of the fans that don’t like each other. For us, it adds a little bit too being ACC-SEC because we sit here in the middle of the SEC and that’s all we hear, all the time. I don’t let one game define our season, but it’s a huge game for the fans, for the players and everybody involved. There’s no ducking that.”
Here are some numerical facts to get you worked up for the latest renewal of “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.”
The Series: Tonight is 109th game in the series that dates back to 1893, the oldest continuous series in school history and the 19th most frequently played rivalry in the FBS. Georgia leads the all-time series, but by different margins, depending on who you ask. Georgia Tech lists it as 64-39-5, 13-30-1 away from Atlanta, while Georgia has it 64-37-5 — they choose not to count two games played during World War II (1943, ‘44, both played in Atlanta). Lately, the Bulldogs have controlled the series, winning five straight and 13 of the last 14. Tech is 3-7 in the last 10 in Sanford Stadium. The Jackets lost a heart-breaking 41-34 double-overtime decision last year at Bobby Dodd.
.583 – Georgia Tech’s nation-leading third-down conversion rate. Tech has earned a new series of downs on 77 of 132 third-down plays. Auburn is next at 54.7 (81 of 148). The Tigers went 8-for-14 against Georgia
.750 – Georgia Tech’s winning percentage under Paul Johnson in games that kick off in the noon hour. That includes a 9-1 mark over the last two seasons. The lone loss came against Duke on Oct. 11.
.803 – Georgia Tech’s record all-time under Paul Johnson when scoring first. The Jackets are 41-10 in such games and 6-2 this season.
.800 – Georgia Tech’s winning percentage this season when holding the ball at least 30:00. The Jackets are 8-2 in such games
0 – The number of losses for Georgia Tech in eight games this season when leading after three quarters.
2 – The number of touchdown passes Justin Thomas needs to tie Joe Hamilton (1998) and move into the top five in school history for touchdown passes in a season. Thomas heads into play with 15, tied with Frank Broyles (1944) and Shawn Jones (1992).
5 – The number of consecutive games in which Georgia Tech has scored on the opening drive of the second half.
75 – The number of yards in each of the five drives and in six of the eight second-half-opening drives. The other two went 72 and 76 yards.
6 – The number of defensive touchdowns for Georgia Tech this season. That leads the ACC and is tied for second in the nation. LBs Quayshawn Nealy leads the team with two. WILL Linebacker P.J. Davis and DBs D.J. White, Jamal Golden and Chris Milton have one each.
6 – The number of wins in seven games by Georgia Tech when having a 100-yard rusher.
10 – The number of times Georgia Tech and Georgia have met when both teams are ranked. Georgia holds a 6-4 lead in such games.
3 – The number of wins for both Georgia Tech and Georgia when meeting at Sanford Stadium when both teams are ranked.
3 – The number of consecutive wins by Georgia Tech over Georgia when meeting at Sanford Stadium when both teams are ranked.
4 – Georgia Tech’s national rank in the number of points off turnovers. The Jackets’ 116 points trail only Louisiana Tech (130), Arizona State (125) and Nevada (117).
8 – The number of career interceptions by Nealy. That’s tied for the most in the nation among non-DBs. He’s also seventh in the nation in fumble recoveries, with three.
124 – The amount of return yardage by Nealy this season on his two interceptions and three fumble-recoveries.
10 – The number of quarters this season in which the Jackets have held the ball for at least 10 minutes. Tech has held the ball an average of 33:49 per game this season.
10 – The number of times in the last 18 meetings that the Jackets have been ranked when facing Georgia.
11 – The number of consecutive games in which Georgia Tech has rushed for at least 200 yards. The Jackets are one of four FBS schools rushing for at least 300 yards per game (327.9).
12 – The number of categories in which Georgia Tech leads the ACC. On the offensive side, that includes total offense (496.6 ypg), rushing offense (327.9 ypg), scoring offense (37.8 ppg), yards per completion (a nation-leading 18.34), fewest sacks allowed (.91), fewest passes intercepted (4), third-down conversion percentage (58.3 percent, tops in the country) and fourth-down completion (69.2), Defensively, Tech leads in defensive touchdowns (6) and turnover margin (.91), while special teams lead in blocked kicks (5).
8.2 – WILL Linebacker P.J. Davis’ team-leading number of tackles per game. Davis, who is tied for ninth in the ACC with his 8.2 stops, also leads the Jackets in tackles (90) and solo stops (64). Davis’ three forced fumbles tie for third in the ACC.
8.0 – The team-leading number of tackles for loss by Davis and freshman DE KeShun Freeman. Six different Jackets have at least 3.0 TFLs (Nealy, 6.0, DTs Shawn Green, and Adam Gotsis, 4.5, and LB Tyler Marcordes, 3.5).
24 – The number of turnovers forced by Georgia Tech this season. The Jackets have recovered eight fumbles and picked off 16 passes. Their plus-10 turnover margin leads the conference by three over Duke and Louisville.
30 – The minimum number of points the winner of Georgia Tech-Georgia has scored in each of the last seven meetings.
44 – The number wins in 51 games under Paul Johnson when scoring at least 30 points. That’s an 86.3 winning percentage.
57 – The number of rushing yards senior B-Back Zach Laskey needs to move into the top 15 in school history. Laskey, who begins play with 1,790 yards, would pass Leon Hardeman (1,794), former teammate Orwin Smith (1,839) and Roddy Jones (1,846), the hero of Tech’s last win against UGA, in Athens in 2008.
671 – The number of receiving yards for senior DeAndre Smelter. He’s 19 yards away from doubling last year’s total yardage. He already has 10 more receptions than last year and three more touchdowns. Smelter has another 96 yards in rushing, giving him 767 all-purpose yards, second on the team behind only quarterback Justin Thomas (827).
10 Things To Know About Georgia (plus why ‘Bummer of ‘42’ could describe Tech’s visits to Athens under Paul Johnson)
1 – The number of losses in 40 non-conference home games since 2001. (Hint: It came late in 2008).
1.45/+16 – The number of turnovers per game and turnover margin that Georgia brings into the game. The turnover margin ranks second in the nation and is currently fourth-best in school history. It’s plus-3 better than the best season under Mark Richt (2003, ‘05 and ‘12). The T.O.’s per game is 60 points better than the previous best, set in 2005. UGA’s all-time best is plus-23 and 2.09, set in 1980, their National Championship season.
2 – The rank of the 2014 Georgia team in rushing touchdowns. The Bulldogs have punched it in 34 times on the ground. That’s 12th in the nation and second-best in program history. Only the 1971 Bulldogs had more (39).
5 – The number of Georgia touchdown scoring drives that lasted five minutes or more this season. Georgia Tech has 12 drives of five minutes or more.
5.6 – The number of points per game by which Georgia is currently ahead of its school single-season scoring record. The 2014 Bulldogs are averaging 43.4 points per game, seventh in the nation. The all-time single-season record was set in 2012, when the Dawgs averaged 37.8 ppg.
6 – The number of consecutive games that freshman tailback Nick Chubb has rushed for at least 100 yards. Chubb, who has started the last six games has run for 928 yards on 130 carries, 7.1 yards per attempt, with nine touchdowns. Chubb, who has 1,152 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season (11 on the ground, two through the air), is the 12th Bulldog freshman to gain 1,000 yards and the first since 2012, when Todd Gurley, whom he replaced, did it.
6.19 – The amount of yardage per carry by Georgia backs this season. That’s on pace to set a school record by nearly half a yard. The 1992 team ran for 5.64 per carry. Georgia backs are accounting for 260.5 rushing yards per game. That’s second in the SEC and is second in school history behind the 1987 team (274.5).
12 – The number of points Georgia’s defense has allowed off turnovers this season. The lone touchdown came last week by Charleston Southern in the fourth quarter, with the score 55-3.
13 – The number of interceptions by Georgia this season under new Secondary Coach Jeremy Pruitt. That’s up from seven in 2013.
158.1 – The quarterback rating for fifth-year senior quarterback Hutson Mason. Mason has completed 58.4 percent of his passes (160 for 234) for 1,825 yards with 19 touchdowns against three interceptions. Mason, who has a 10-3 career record as a starter, made his first start last year against Georgia Tech, going 22-for-36, for 299 yards with two TDs vs. one INT.
42 – The number of points Georgia has scored in all three home games against Georgia Tech in the Paul Johnson Era. They lost 45-42 in 2008, the first time they faced Johnson, but won, 42-34 in 2010 and 42-10 in 2012.