Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: Ho-hum, Clean, Old Fashioned Hate should go Dawgs' way again
The settings of Georgia Tech and Georgia couldn’t be any more different: urban campus vs. small college town, engineering and technical school vs. state flagship.
And the difference is evident on the gridiron, too.
Around the turn of the millennium, Clean, Old Fashioned Hate looked as if it’d become somewhat competitive. Georgia Tech hadn’t had a streak longer than 3 wins since winning 8 in a row against Georgia from 1949-1956, while Georgia entered 1998’s edition riding an 8-game streak of its own.
But a series that looked as if it would start to even out turned out to not even out after all. Since Georgia Tech beat Georgia 27-15 in Athens in 2000 to extend its winning streak over the Bulldogs to 3 games, Georgia has won 15 of 18, including the past 2 by a combined total of 55 points. Last year at Sanford Stadium, it stormed to 38 first-half points en route to a 45-21 win as Jake Fromm threw for a career-high 4 touchdowns.
Some rivalry. Just don’t tell Kirby Smart, who went 3-1 against the Yellow Jackets during his playing career and came within a few points of going 4-0, that it’s lost its significance.
“I know the importance of this game and I know the significance it has to so many of our fans, especially the crowd that may be older, that traditionally Georgia Tech was a national powerhouse year in, year out,” he said.
Saturday’s game, though, might have all the fixings of a 3rd consecutive blowout. The Yellow Jackets have allowed 33 or more points 5 times this year, with 2 40-plus point games and 1 50-plus game against Clemson. Duke, a team that’s averaged just over 25 points a game, put up 41 on Oct. 12. Last year’s Georgia team had no trouble scoring points on any opponent except for LSU and Texas, but they’re winning games with their defense this year more than they are with their offense. They might be able to open it up much more on Saturday.
By the time the final whistle blows, the Bulldogs should be finishing off their 3rd consecutive win over Tech and its 16th in 19 tries. Georgia is miles better than the Jackets in every capacity: talent, coaching, recruiting, media attention. Even 2016, a game that saw the Jackets score a late touchdown to win 28-27 at Sanford Stadium, seems ages ago as Kirby Smart has turned the Dawgs into a championship contender. Georgia Tech is rebuilding under a new coach looking to change the program’s culture but still has a long way to go to come close to what’s happening in Athens, much less make headway in an ACC Coastal Division that could see its 6th different champion in as many years this weekend.
The series has lacked a certain edge, too. You won’t find D’Andre Swift refusing to refer to Tech by its name like Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden refused to utter the word “Louisville” this weekend. Sure, the banter will be flowing between the two fan bases, but despite the typical coach-speak, the Georgia players will approach this game with an air of confidence.
All they need to do, really, is not lose or get in a dogfight against the Jackets to remain in the Playoff discussion before the SEC Championship Game against LSU rolls around. And the conditions are right to build on that confidence and send a message to the College Football Playoff committee that its offense can deliver at the same high level as its defense.
So when the 114th edition of Clean, Old Fashioned Hate kicks off Saturday, all signs point to Georgia getting the best of Georgia Tech once more in the latest chapter of this rivalry. That is, if you can even call it a rivalry.