With the Georgia Bulldogs having conquered Georgia Tech 15 times in the last 19 meetings of the state rivals and Georgia also having won the last nine games played at the Yellow Jackets’ Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, many people are saying Tech-Georgia isn’t the rivalry it used to be.
And that’s likely true to a certain extent. Ever since Georgia Tech pulled out of the Southeastern Conference in 1964, the Bulldogs’ clash with the Jackets, of course, hasn’t meant anything as far as counting in a league championship race and, yes, a rivalry seems much less ballyhooed when one team dominates the other … as Georgia has done against Tech in the 2000s and also in the 1990s when the Dawgs fashioned a 7-game winning streak against The Enemy from North Avenue.
But don’t bring this kind of talk up before the University of Georgia’s old grads. They will remind you of all the misery the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets inflicted on their beloved Bulldogs back in the 1950s and early ’60s when Bobby Dodd annually guided Tech among the elite of college football. The Ramblin’ Wreck, especially in the late ’50s, were always residing in the nation’s top 5 or top 10 rankings and going to the major bowls annually.
And they will also remind you of the infamous 8-game losing streak the Bulldogs suffered against Georgia Tech from 1949-1956 … before a fullback named Theron Sapp plunged into the end zone on Grant Field on Nov. 30, 1957 to give Georgia a 7-0 win over the Jackets. With that Sapp became “The Man Who Broke the Drought” and had his No. 40 jersey retired …one of only four UGA jerseys to ever be retired, the others being those of Charley Trippi, Frank Sinkwich and Herschel Walker.
It’s certainly been all Georgia recently in this ancient series (111 meetings thus far with UGA leading 67-39-5) but you let the Bulldogs lose one to the Yellow Jackets — as Kirby Smart’s first Bulldog team did in 2016 — and then see how long Bulldawg Nation will stew about said loss.
Unlike the 1950s and early ’60s, however, nothing conference-wise is riding on Saturday’s 12 noon kickoff in Atlanta. But as far as the national picture goes, Georgia has plenty at stake when it lines up to face the Jackets of first-year head coach Geoff Collins. Having already clinched a third consecutive SEC East Division title and the trip to the Dec. 7 conference championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Bulldogs can’t afford an upset loss to Georgia Tech and stay in the hunt for a berth in the College Football Playoff.
And, let’s face it, Smart’s Bulldogs shouldn’t lose to this Tech team. While 4th-ranked Georgia enters the game with a 10-1 season record, Collins’ first Jacket edition limps in with just a 3-8 season worksheet. The Tech wins were over South Florida (14-10), Miami (28-21, OT) and North Carolina State (28-26), the win over the Wolfpack coming Thursday night a week ago at Bobby Dodd.
Admittedly, the win over the Hurricanes down in Coral Gables was a bit of a surprise, with the way the Yellow Jackets had been floundering up to that point. But this season on The Flats has gone pretty much as expected, what with Collins reconstructing the entire Jacket program from Paul Johnson’s triple-option, run-oriented attack to the fast-paced NFL-type offense Collins prefers. The new coach has to first bring in his own recruits to fit this offense, with a strong-armed throwing quarterback being the utmost priority.
Unless these Bulldogs are caught looking ahead to the powerful LSU Tigers a week hence — and Kirby won’t let them do that — they should put it on the Jackets pretty good Saturday. That’s because Tech is averaging 17.5 points per outing while giving up 30.6 points per game. That’s because the Jackets are giving up 214 yards rushing per game to opposing offenses. And now, Tech’s offense is going against Georgia’s No. 2 nationally-ranked defense and the Yellow Jacket defense is facing a Bulldog offense that despite running the ball at less efficiency in recent weeks is still averaging right at 200 yards on the ground.
With that Georgia running game reawakening a bit against Tech and Jake Fromm snapping out of his passing doldrums of the last three games, the Bulldogs cap their third consecutive 11-1 regular season with a 42-7 romp over the Jackets Saturday afternoon.