Most Georgia fans probably can’t recall how this year’s Georgia Tech game ended. The Bulldogs came away with a 31-23 win and quickly turned the page to Alabama and the SEC championship game.

But Brent Key, Georgia Tech’s head coach, vividly recalls how the game ended.

“Three minutes and 31 seconds with three timeouts left, we’re down by eight,” Key said while speaking at a Georgia Tech Alumni Association event. “Muff the onside kick, get (Georgia) to third-and-3, they run a toss sweep out of the bunch formation to the boundary. (Linebacker) Kyle Efford is about two inches away from making the tackle.

“I think about it every day. (Efford) thinks about it every day. We talk about it every day.”

Key also made it clear how much he hates Georgia. He does it every day.

The rivalry clearly means a lot to the Georgia Tech head coach. We know it does to Kirby Smart as well. His final game at Sanford Stadium as a player was spoiled by Georgia Tech in 1998. Key was a member of that team, as he went 3-2 as a player against Georgia.

“I know for sure Coach (Smart) would be mad if I don’t put Georgia Tech first. Georgia Tech’s definitely first,” former Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson said during the 2023 season. “I think Auburn is probably second. Georgia Tech’s got to be first.”

We’ll learn a lot this year about how much this rivalry means to Georgia fans. Key and Georgia Tech clearly feel no problem ignoring the “Beware of Dog” signs when it comes to this rivalry.

Key is 0-2 against Georgia since taking over for Geoff Collins but the games, to Key’s credit, have been a lot closer than most expected. The Bulldogs held just a 10-7 halftime lead in the 2022 game, before getting past Georgia Tech this past season.

While the final score in both those games does not indicate how close the contest actually was, it’s a reflection that Georgia Tech is at least closing the gap. The Yellow Jackets made a bowl game for the first time since 2018 last season.

There’s been a bit of cross-pollination in the rivalry as well. Prior to the 2023 season, Key hired Georgia analyst Buster Faulkner to be the team’s offensive coordinator. The Yellow Jackets have also added four transfers from Georgia over the last two years, with linebacker EJ Lightsey and tight ends Ryland Goede and Brett Seither all suiting up for Georgia Tech this season.

Georgia responded this offseason by hiring former Georgia Tech wide receivers coach Josh Crawford to be the new running backs coach. He replaces Dell McGee, who is now the head coach at Georgia State.

Key’s recent comments about his hatred of Georgia will put Clean, Old-Fashioned hate in a bigger spotlight. It’s rare for a coach in this day and age to publicly show that kind of discontent for one of his rivals.

With this year’s game be playing on Black Friday, there will be a different feel to it. The game will no longer fall at noon on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The hope is that the primetime kickoff kills off the normally sleepy atmosphere that accompanies this rivalry game.

Georgia Tech last beat Georgia in 2016. Only the 2023 game has been a one-score game. Never mind that Smart has only lost once to Auburn since becoming Georgia’s head coach or that Georgia Tech has a more recent victory against Georgia than Tennessee.

While the football rivalry hasn’t always been competitive, one only needs to look at the recent baseball victory over Georgia Tech to see how passionate both sides of this rivalry can be when properly invested.

Key clearly hopes to get his first victory against Georgia in 2024. Hate can be a powerful motivator, even if it’s not entirely healthy. We’ll find out on Nov. 29 just how much Georgia has noticed Key’s comments.