ATHENS — Greetings from Sanford Stadium, where Georgia will renew its rivalry with Georgia Tech for the 109th time. Or 111th, depending on whom one believes.
Like everything else about this series, the two sides don’t agree even with how many times they’ve played. Obviously, teams representing the two schools played in 1943 and ’44, during the height of World War II. But Georgia doesn’t recognize those as sanctioned games. Tech won those two contests 48-0 and 44-0. The Bulldogs argue that while they competed with students from the school, the Yellow Jackets used military personnel from schools all over the country who were training at The Institute before going off to war.
There certainly was some disparity in the results, with Georgia winning 21-0 and 34-0 in the two years preceding those seasons and 33-0 and 35-7 in the two years after. But, alas, that will never be resolved. They’ve agreed to disagree. So Georgia lists its advantage in the series as 65-38-5, and Tech as 40-65-5.
What is certain is the Bulldogs have won 13 of the last 15 in the rivalry, but have lost two of the last four played in Athens. Tech won in its last trip between the hedges in the 2014 “Squib Kick” game, 30-24 in overtime. It also won here in 2008, 45-42.
This definitely feels like one that Georgia could stand to lose. After all, both teams come in with identical 7-4 records. You can’t really draw much from their like opponents. Tech and Georgia have both played North Carolina and Vanderbilt. The Yellow Jackets stomped Vandy 38-7 while the Bulldogs lost to the Commodores 17-16. But UGA beat North Carolina 33-24 and the Tar Heels walloped Tech 48-20.
So let’s just go ahead invoke the cliche, “throw the records and results out the window,” because that is really so true and applicable when it comes to Tech and Georgia playing for the Governor’s Cup. I’ll say this: The matchups are really good. The Bulldogs are pretty good at stopping the run, and Tech is real good at running. Georgia’s young and agile offensive line will be need be particularly nimble today as the Jackets will do everything they can to get them on the ground.
Georgia is also throwing it at a pretty good clip lately, and that’s the biggest chink in Tech’s defensive armor. As always, Georgia is going to try to establish its run game. But I definitely expect the Bulldogs try to hit Tech deep early and often. That’s something we’ve seen with much more regularity from Georgia in recent weeks. The biggest difference in the Bulldogs this season behind quarterback Jacob Eason has been his ability to connect on the deep ball. He has had completions of 49 yards or more in each of the last three games and in six games overall.
But don’t count out the contributions of tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who may or may not be playing their last games at Sanford Stadium. And it most definitely will be the final home games of 19 Georgia seniors. Among those are a few men who have contributed a great deal these last four years, including receiver Reggie Davis, center Brandon Kublanow, safety Quincy Mauger and tackle Greg Pyke.
That’s how I see it, a tight contest that could go either way. Mark Bradley, Jeff Schultz, Seth Emerson, Doug Roberson, Jeff Sentell, Andy Johnston and I are all here to chronicle today’s events before, during and after the game. So be sure to follow us on DawgNation.com and, if you’re out and about, your DawgNation app. We look forward to telling you all about it.