Opinion Week: Georgia Tech Football is Capable of Going Undefeated

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Opinion Week continues with a look at this fall's schedule, and what could be.

Sometimes, I'm a complete and total Negative Nancy. Sometimes, I'm objective and reasonable (or so I think).

And then sometimes, I'm a complete and total homer.

It's been a while, but I'm going to channel my inner "complete and total homer" for this article. But never without reason. I want to look at this season in a "best-case scenario, Gold-colored glasses" fashion, but still with a completely logical and reasonable basis.

I think it's possible for Georgia Tech to go 12-0 this season.

First, let's look at the schedule.

Date Opponent Location Schedule
8/30/2014 Wofford Terriers (FCS) Atlanta, GA 12:30pm
9/6/2014 Tulane Green Wave New Orleans, LA --
9/13/2014 Georgia Southern Eagles (FBS) Atlanta, GA 12:00pm
9/20/2014 Virginia Tech Hokies Blacksburg, VA --
10/4/2014 Miami Hurricanes Atlanta, GA --
10/11/2014 Duke Blue Devils Atlanta, GA --
10/18/2014 North Carolina Tar Heels Chapel Hill, NC --
10/25/2014 Pittsburgh Panthers Pittsburgh, PA --
11/1/2014 Virginia Cavaliers Atlanta, GA --
11/8/2014 NC State Wolfpack Raleigh, NC --
11/15/2014 Clemson Tigers Atlanta, GA --
11/29/2014 georgia bulldogs Athens, GA --

So let's take a look here. If you go ask any Georgia Tech fan out there -- and I mean any fan, with any reasonable opinions -- they would tell you, without debate, that the Wofford, Tulane, Georgia Southern, Pittsburgh, Virginia (in Atlanta), and NC State games are all winnable games. Good? OK, great.

That leaves six more games: Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson, and uga. The reason Duke falls on this list is that they were the Coastal Champions last year, even if we beat them by 3+ touchdowns. But, I think there are folks out there who could make an argument that we'll lose that game this year. That said, I think it's unlikely we lose that game this year, making it fall in the "winnable" category. North Carolina also falls on the list as the perennial underperformers in the ACC. For years now, the Tar Heels have had a ton to be excited about, only to finish with 7- and 8-win seasons. That, not to mention that Paul Johnson's teams have won 5 in a row over UNC. So I think that, even with them having the potential that they do, and having thought for a couple years now that UNC is due in the series, this game is very much "winnable".

Which leaves the "Big 4", so to speak: Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson, and uga -- 4 teams that Georgia Tech has combined for one victory against in the past four seasons. I contend that, even with a loss in 10 straight against these 4 teams, there's plenty of reason to think that Georgia Tech could possibly sweep them.

Virginia Tech

This is one of those where the record doesn't tell the whole story. Yes, we've lost four straight to the Hokies. But let's review:

  • 2010: On a Thursday night in Blacksburg, Joshua Nesbitt throws an ill-advised pass shortly before halftime that ends up intercepted in the end zone. On the return, Nesbitt runs over to tackle the ballcarrier and breaks his arm. Virginia Tech scores 21 in the fourth quarter against Al Groh's defense and comes back from a 2 touchdown deficit to win 28-21.
  • 2011: Georgia Tech is rolling. Coming out of halftime, Tech is down 21-13. In two drives, they ran a cumulative 15 plays for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns, and lead 26-21. Immediately after, Virginia Tech is on its own 17 yard line with a 3rd and 19. Jeremiah Attaochu rushes Logan Thomas and sacks him, and the Hokies are dead in the water, both on the drive and in the game. Except Attaochu loses composure over the difficulty of tackling the 6'5", 260lb Thomas, and slugs him in the head for a 15-yard penalty. The Hokies end up scoring on that drive and combine for 16 points on their final 3 drives, and win 37-26.
  • 2012: On Memorial Day to kick off the season, Georgia Tech is down 14-10 with 7:46 to play. Tevin Washington completes 5 passes, including one to Deon Hill that caps a 5-minute drive in a touchdown. The Jackets lead by 3 with FORTY FOUR SECONDS ON THE DAMN CLOCK. Logan Thomas completes two passes to Corey Fuller (including one on 4th and 4) as he moves his offense 51 yards in those 44 seconds. Virginia Tech kicks a field goal before winning in OT.
  • 2013: Georgia Tech loses by a touchdown at home, only managing 273 yards of offense. Logan Thomas magically channels "RGIII in early 2011" mode out of nowhere and completes 19 of 25 passes, 3 weeks after completing less than 20% against Alabama. Virginia Tech scores a combined 7 points on drives that start on their own end of the field. Georgia Tech's offense falls flat to a brilliant Hokie defense, and the favored Jackets lose to a Hokie team they should have beaten, in one man's opinion.

All I'll say here is that each of these games was winnable. This year is at least as winnable, if not moreso, than any of the last four.

Miami

Miami lost its QB, Stephen Morris, to graduation, and lost its replacement QB to knee surgery. Their second- and third-string QBs have a combined one season of experience with 8 total passing attempts in college. Combine that with the fact that Duke Johnson is returning from a broken ankle, as well as the ideas that lower leg injuries are a grab bag for how well they heal and that the Miami offense was hot garbage last year without him, and there's plenty of reason for doubt in Coral Gables. This game is definitely winnable for the Jackets.

Clemson

Off the top of my head, Clemson lost its top 4 skill-position players in Tajh Boyd, Roderick McDowell, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant, three of whom were drafted. That's before we get to the offensive line or defense. I might suggest the Jackets were the favorite if this game were earlier in the year. But with the game at home and against a team that is far from proven in its new, reformed state -- this is extremely winnable.

georgia

Ah, yes, the annual state championship game. The one we've won once since 2001. You know, I think you'd be surprised at how this is similar to the Virginia Tech series lately...

  • 2009: Georgia Tech is the favorite. uga leads 17-3 at halftime. Georgia Tech comes storming back with touchdowns on 3 of 4 drives, and trails 30-24 with 3 minutes left and the ball. After a fourth down conversion, it's fourth down again and Josh Nesbitt passes to Demaryius Thomas, a future first-round NFL Draft pick at wide receiver. Thomas takes his eye off the ball, and the Jackets lose.
  • 2010: Georgia Tech has gone blow-for-blow with their rivals and trails 35-28 at the midway point of the fourth quarter. They score a touchdown with less than 5 minutes left. Scott Blair has made every extra point he's attempted since the second game of the previous season. He misses. After the teams trade fruitless offensive drives, uga has the ball with 1:38 to play, deep in Georgia Tech territory. After a timeout, the Jackets' defense parts and lets Washaun Ealey score, getting the ball back, still in a one possession game. After making it across midfield, Tevin Washington is intercepted, and the game is over.
  • 2011: Georgia Tech trails 14-10 around a minute before halftime. uga manages 10 straight points on either side of halftime, and 17 unanswered. Georgia Tech scores late to lose 31-17. I got vomited on that day.
  • 2012: The uga defense is stacked with talent. After a score on uga's opening drive, Georgia Tech is driving down the field, in scoring position. Robbie Godhigh runs 19 yards to the uga 1, where he's picked up, only for Bacarri Rambo to strip the ball and take off running. It all spirals out of control from there. Alec Ogletree suplexes Godhigh in the middle of the field. It's 42-3 at the start of the fourth quarter. Everything is awful.
  • 2013: Please don't make me relive this. Georgia Tech jumps out to a 20-point lead and leads 20-7 at halftime. They manage 7 more points in regulation while uga scores 20 to tie, including a field goal with around 4 minutes to play. Todd Gurley carries 4 times for 50 yards and two touchdowns in overtime. Georgia Tech loses without trailing prior to the second overtime.

Again, games closer than the record would suggest. This game is as winnable as it's ever going to be with Aaron Murray gone and an average QB in Hutson Mason at the helms.

So there you have it. I think every game this season is winnable, and with good reason. That's not to say that I think Georgia Tech wins every game -- I highly doubt that happens. But each game, individually, is winnable. There's not a game that I'm going ahead and marking as a loss. And that's enough hope for me.

Are my gold-colored glasses making me see an alternate reality, or is this a legitimate theory?

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