Too Much Information: Georgia Bulldogs at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Since Too Much Information has been awash in negativity of late, it’s only fair for me to warn you from the outset that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are going to annihilate the Georgia Bulldogs tomorrow. If you’re looking here for any indication to the contrary, you need to look elsewhere.

Having said so, I would hasten to add that I laughed heartily at the specious nonsense I saw in this morning’s Technique Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggesting that the Ramblin’ Wreck was about to be two games into a five- or six-game series winning streak over the Red and Black. Easy there, tiger; the worm has not turned nearly as sharply as that. It just so happens that the 2009 Engineers are the best Georgia Tech outfit, and the 2009 Bulldogs are the worst Georgia club, since 1990. That year also saw a highly-ranked Golden Tornado squad trouncing a downtrodden bunch of Athenians to claim a second straight series victory, but it in no way prevented the Classic City Canines from bouncing back to win the next seven in a row. Let’s take it one game at a time, shall we?

Odds and Ends

Georgia Tech leads the ACC in scoring offense with 36.0 points per game. Georgia ranks tenth in the SEC in scoring defense and is allowing 26.6 points per game. Do you really want me to continue? All right, fine, then. . . .

The Yellow Jackets dropped 45 points on the Bulldogs last year to mark the seventh series meeting in which the Engineers scored 40 or more against the Red and Black. It happened before in 1905 (46 points), 1943 (48), 1944 (44), 1951 (48), 1990 (40), and 1999 (51). In the years immediately following those seasons, the Athenians did a poor job of bouncing back, posting a cumulative 2-4 record against the Golden Tornado in 1906, 1944, 1945, 1952, 1991, and 2000. If you’re inclined to look for a silver lining, though, there is this datum: Georgia is 2-1 all-time against Georgia Tech in Atlanta in years directly following seasons in which the Ramblin’ Wreck notched 40 or more points against the Bulldogs, with the Classic City Canines’ last loss in the City Too Busy Too Hate in such a situation occurring in 1906.

The Yellow Jackets have outscored the opposition 103-55 in the first quarter and the Bulldogs have outscored the opposition 100-53 in the second quarter, so it’s not at all implausible to imagine that Georgia Tech will leap out to an early lead and Georgia will close the gap just before the half. It’s liable to be all downhill from there, though, as the Atlantans lead the opposition 186-112 after the break and the Athenians have been outscored 162-126 in the second half.

2009 will be the twelfth season in which Georgia faces Georgia Tech after having lost to the Kentucky Wildcats earlier in the autumn. The Bulldogs were 5-6 against the Yellow Jackets in the previous eleven such seasons (1939, 1947, 1949, 1956, 1965, 1973, 1977, 1988, 1990, 1996, and 2006), but the Red and Black have posted a 5-2 ledger against the Golden Tornado in the seven such seasons to have come after Vince Dooley’s arrival in Athens.

The Feel Good Bad Stat of the Week

Last year, Georgia Tech beat Georgia for the first time since 2000. Excluding stretches during which ties interfered with series streaks for one team or the other, this outcome made 2008 the eighth autumn in which a Yellow Jacket victory snapped a Bulldog winning skein in the rivalry of more than two games.

On the previous seven such occasions (1943, 1961, 1969, 1974, 1984, 1989, and 1998), the Ramblin’ Wreck broke the string with what was to become the first triumph of a two- or three-game series winning streak for the Golden Tornado six times. Although the lone exception (1974) came under the circumstances most closely analogous to the present state of affairs, the fact is that, in recent history, one-game Georgia Tech winning streaks over Georgia most often morph into two-game Georgia Tech winning streaks over Georgia (although, fortunately, seldom more than that).

The Bottom Line

A win tomorrow night would give the Bulldogs their 60th series victory over the Yellow Jackets. (For the benefit of those who are straining to see a sea change in the rivalry, no other team has lost to Georgia as many times as Georgia Tech has.) Anyone who watched last night’s clash between the Texas Longhorns and the Texas A&M Aggies or this afternoon’s tilt between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers understands that the intensity of rivalry showdowns counsels us never to say never whenever bitter in-state foes square off with one another.

Three points bear making, however. First of all, the Aggies and the Plainsmen were playing at home against nearby rivals who occupy the whole of each underdog program’s focus 365 days a year. There is not now and never has been either a Texas A&M fan who thinks any game matters more than the Texas game or an Auburn fan who thinks any game matters more than the Alabama game, whereas the bulk of Georgia fans are far more concerned with, e.g., the Florida Gators than with Georgia Tech, whose program is fixated to the point of obsession upon all things Georgia. Moreover, while historic Grant Field affords precious little home field advantage to the Yellow Jackets against the Bulldogs (who are 17-6 against the Ramblin’ Wreck at Bobby Dodd Stadium since 1963, a period during which the Athenians have gone 16-7 against the Engineers between the hedges), Georgia will not benefit from the home crowd noise the way the Aggies did last night or the Tigers did this afternoon.

Secondly, the Bulldogs lately have shown little of the intensity that was on display in College Station and in the so-called Loveliest Village these last two days. No motivational ploy trotted out in the last two years appears to have done any good for the Red and Black, so any faith I placed in Georgia’s ability to be "up" for tomorrow’s game would be based on hope rather than experience, and this segment isn’t supposed to be called "Too Much Intuition."

Finally, Texas A&M and Auburn both lost. The best those teams’ fans can claim is that they did not get embarrassed, and, however horrible this season has been in Bulldog Nation, it certainly has not descended to such depths that any Georgia fan would consider a close loss to Georgia Tech a moral victory. There is no inspiration to be drawn from teams that lost less badly than they were expected to lose; this is especially true in this rivalry, in which "you can throw out the records" is a cliché unsubstantiated by historical evidence. (As Bill Cromartie documented in Clean Old-Fashioned Hate, the team with the better record emerges victorious from the Georgia-Georgia Tech game approximately three-fourths of the time.)

Any Georgia Tech fans who claim that theirs is now the better program are engaging in laughably premature wishful thinking. This year, however, the Yellow Jackets demonstrably are the better team . . . and, in this rivalry, the better team almost always wins.

When you expect the worst, your only options are to be proven correct or pleasantly surprised. In this case, it may be both.

My Prediction: Georgia Tech 222, Georgia 0.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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