ATLANTA — Georgia is headed to the Southeastern Conference championship game.
Nothing would put a damper on that trip like finishing second in its own state.
When the 13th-ranked Bulldogs (9-2) face No. 25 Georgia Tech today, they’ll be eager to avoid any sort of slip-up in what has been a comeback of a season.
“We’ve been very concerned about the SEC throughout the season and trying to stay in the hunt,” tight end Aron White said. “Luckily, we’ve put ourselves in position to play for the championship. But we’ve got to win the state championship first.”
No matter what happens on this quick trip to Atlanta, the Bulldogs will be making a return trip next weekend to play for their first conference title since 2005 and, potentially, have a major say in who winds up in the national championship game.
But they haven’t forgotten what happened to Georgia Tech two years ago.
The Yellow Jackets (8-3) were in a similar position when they faced Georgia, having already locked up a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game. But their big season was left with a permanent stain when the Bulldogs pulled off a 30-24 upset.
The Yellow Jackets have lost nine of the past 10 meetings – and none of them stung more than that 2009 game.
Time for payback.
“Oh, we would love to,” running back Orwin Smith said. “Just the old-fashioned hate. It gets no better than spoiling their plans. It would be great, something to brag on.”
Georgia Tech hasn’t been able to do much bragging in this rivalry.
The rare exception came in 2008, when the Yellow Jackets stunned Georgia between the hedges 45-42, unleashing the triple-option on a defense that had no idea how to stop it.
This Georgia team ranks second in the NCAA against the run, allowing just 81.3 yards per game. Something will have to give against the Yellow Jackets, who are second nationally in rushing yards (323.6 a contest).