Said Johnson after his third win in Sanford Stadium: “Not bad for a bunch of 80th-ranked recruiting classes – huh, Mark?” (As in yours truly, who LOL’ed.) The post-Johnson question always has been: Can Tech hope to beat Georgia in straight-up football? As we speak, the Jackets’ 2022 recruiting class is ranked No. 22 by 247Sports, which is splendid by Tech standards; Georgia’s class is ranked No. 1.
Geoff Collins’ first Tech team lost to Georgia 52-7. His third Tech team is a 35-point underdog. That game will be staged here, although Georgia fans might comprise the majority of attendees. Athletic director Todd Stansbury’s vote of confidence notwithstanding, this is as dark an hour as Tech has known. Only two previous Tech coaches started with three consecutive losing seasons. Bud Carson, who succeeded Dodd, was 12-18 after Year 3. Bill Lewis, who succeeded Bobby Ross, was 11-19 when he resigned under pressure. Collins is 9-24.
His first team lost to Virginia Tech by 45 points. His second lost to Clemson by 66. His latest lost to Notre Dame by 55. Tech’s last victory came Oct. 9 against Duke, which is winless in ACC play. The season began with a home loss to Northern Illinois, which was winless in 2020. (To be fair, these Huskies are 8-4 and will play for the MAC championship.)
This correspondent joined the AJC in 1984. Tech beat Georgia in Athens that year, in Atlanta the next. From ‘84 through 2000, the Jackets won seven of 17 against the Bulldogs. That met the definition of a rivalry. Tech has since won three of 19, which for a school that includes “to hell with Georgia” in its fight song is both doggone amusing and downright sad.
How deep is the divide? The Bulldogs rank first in ESPN’s football power index; Tech is 79th. They’re first in Bill Connelly’s SP+ ratings; Tech is 85th. They’re first in Brian Fremeau’s efficiency ratings for Football Outsiders; Tech is 89th. Yow.
For Collins’ #404Takeover to have any hope of occurring, the gap must narrow. It’s hard to imagine it narrowing enough for Tech to stand a chance in this game anytime soon.