Last year’s game between the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets was one of the more monumental episodes of the in-state rivalry, with both teams ranked at No. 13 and 23, respectively. But this year’s clash is arguably bigger, as Georgia and Georgia Tech have already clinched a spot in their conference championship games and one has national championship hopes on the line.
“It’s pretty cool,” Tech quarterback Tevin Washington said. “I think that’s the first time in a long time that both teams have clinched a spot going into the game. It speaks volumes for football in this state.”
The Bulldogs have higher aspirations than just a Southeastern Conference title, though. Now at No. 3 in the BCS standings, Georgia controls its own destiny to get to Miami for the BCS national championship game on
A Georgia Tech win would tarnish those hopes and nothing would make the Yellow Jackets happier.
“I was actually talking about it after I found out that (then-No. 1) Kansas State and (then-No. 2) Oregon lost,” running back David Sims said. “‘How good would it feel to upset Georgia’s national championship hopes and go to the ACC championship a week later?’
“It would be awesome. We’ve been blessed with this opportunity so hopefully we can make the most of it.”
Georgia Tech players said they would have to play their best game of the year to pull off the upset. Several said that Georgia will be the toughest team they’ll face all season — one that doesn’t miss many opportunities.
“We’ve played against some great defenses this year but Georgia’s is going to by far be our biggest challenge of the season,” said running back Zach Laskey, who grew up in Atlanta. “The toughest part is their speed. The entire defense just flies around the ball and plays with a lot of energy.”
Georgia Tech has never single-handedly taken Georgia out of the national championship race, largely due to the timing of the annual matchup being so late in the season. But the Bulldogs arguably did so to the Yellow Jackets in 2009. At 10-1 and ranked No. 7 in the BCS standings, Georgia Tech fell at home to unranked Georgia, squashing any hopes of hoisting the crystal football.
Washington hopes to rectify recent woes but knows that Tech will face adversity come Saturday. But he’s OK with that and said that his biggest contribution to the team will be his leadership.
“Just being that guy that everyone can look to and expect my performance to be the same and not dictated, that’s where I think I can best exploit Georgia,” Washington said. “If guys are making mistakes or I am, we’ve just got to stay not too high or low and be even keel all the way through the game.”