Today’s Midtown Patch question of the day is for fans of the Georgia Tech football program.
It is simply this: Would you rather the Yellow Jackets defeat Georgia this coming Saturday in Athens, or beat Florida State the following week in the ACC Championship Game?
Say what? Tech’s in the conference title game? Yep, it’s true after a Monday morning announcement from the University of Miami, in what school officials there called an "unprecedented decision," to self-impose a post-season ban in anticipation of NCAA sanctions revolving around a former booster providing athletes and recruits with cash and gifts.
The ACC does not allow bowl-ineligible teams to play in the league championship game, and no bowl-eligible team in the Coastal Division can match Tech’s 5-3 league mark.
Few would have thought coach Paul Johnson’s team could be in such a spot just three weeks ago after the Jackets were held without an offensive touchdown in a humiliating 41-17 homecoming loss to BYU.
That dropped Tech to 3-5 overall to go along with its 2-3 ACC record that included divisional losses to Miami and Virginia Tech. But the Jackets regrouped to win at Maryland and North Carolina before Saturday’s 42-24 win over visiting Duke.
Aiding the Jackets cause has been Virginia Tech’s worst season in two decades. The Hokies, who defeated the visiting Jackets in the season opener, have dropped four conference games this fall for the first time since joining the league in 2004.
So now Tech finds itself in the Dec. 1 ACC title game in Charlotte, N.C., where it will face No. 10-ranked Florida State, 10-1 entering its finale against Florida. It will be Tech’s first appearance in the championship game since 2009, which the Jackets won over Clemson. But that victory was vacated last year by the NCAA due to impermissible benefits violations.
Tech, which lost to Wake Forest in the 2006 ACC title game, tied Florida State for the 1998 league title when there wasn’t a conference championship game in place. The 1990 team, which shared the national championship with Colorado, is the only Georgia Tech squad to win the ACC title outright.
And now the 2012 team, which saw its defensive coordinator dismissed last month, improbably has the chance to be the second. Tech, which joined the ACC in 1978 after a 14-year run as an Independent, was a longtime member of the SEC and won five league titles (the last in 1952) before exited the conference in 1964.
So the reality is that Georgia Tech has won just one outright conference championship in the last 60 years. But before the opportunity comes to win a second, the Jackets will face their most-hated rival Georgia Saturday afternoon in Athens. Kickoff set for high noon.
Georgia has dominated the series and has scored triumphs in 10 of the last 11, and 17 of the last 21 meetings with the Yellow Jackets after a two-touchdown win last year in Atlanta. Overall in the series that is known as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” the Dawgs lead 61-39-5.
Last month on an Atlanta sports talk radio station, former Georgia great Hines Ward (1994-97) said of going 4-0 in his career against the Jackets, “that wasn’t really a rivalry.”
The 10-1 Bulldogs, currently third in the BCS standings, are apparently wins over Tech and Alabama in the SEC Championship Game away from playing for the national championship.
So Tech fans, given the choice: would you rather beat the hated Bulldogs and derail their national championship dreams, or beat FSU for the program’s first outright ACC title in more than two decades?