They call it "Clean, Ole-Fashion Hate"; a rivalry that dates back to 1893. They have played one hundred and eight times and there have been some amazing finishes in this game. In 1997 Javarious Tillman intercepts a pass from Mike Bobo with 14 seconds left in the game, but is called for pass interference. On the next play, Bobo connects with Cory Allen to go up and seal the game and stomps Tech's heart winning 27-24. The next year, Joe Hamilton gets his first win against the bulldogs in Athens with a Brad Chambers field goal that stops the seven year streak and Tech brings home the Governor's Cup with a piece of the hedge to go with it. In '99, the game that was hyped "the shootout" lived up to the billing with both offenses racking up a combined total of 1,097 yards. Tied 48-48 in OT, Georgia Tech's Luke Magent kicks a field goal that is blocked by Georgia but the ball is recovered by back up quarterback George Godsey and what on was a third down. The next kick was not blocked and Georgia Tech beat Georgia 51-48 and also the last time Tech beat Georgia at Grant Field.
The Bulldogs are going on with life without Aaron Murray who had an incredible 13,166 yards passing and 121 touchdowns for his career at Georgia. Hutson Mason, who has started two games for UGA, has now been given the reigns as starting quarterback. He proved that he is more than capable of carrying the torch under center for the bulldogs after leading the the team from a come from behind win over the yellow jackets in a 41-34 double overtime win. He almost got the bulldogs a bowl win if it wasn't for a costly interception against Nebraska. In both of those games, he combined for 619 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. Mason has been in Mark Richt and Mike Bobo's system for four years and when he has been called to play, he has been very productive and has shown to be just as effective as Murray. In a way, Mason is being thrown in a similar situation like former bulldog DJ Shockley. Shockley played sparingly behind David Greene, and when his time came to start, he lead the bulldogs to an SEC Title. Mason has the potential to do the same and more with his supporting cast....which is our next topic.
If UGA is going to Atlanta this year, they will be relying a lot upon Todd Gurley. Number 3 has been nothing short of amazing at Georgia. So far the junior has racked up 2,374 rushing with 27 touchdowns. He is without a doubt the best running back in the nation and he will be suiting up for someone on Sundays in 2015. Gurley did play hurt last season and even sat out three games (Tennessee, Missouri, and Vanderbilt). Even though he played hurt, he still plowed through defenses in the nation's toughest conference and helped his team get a bowl birth. The bulldogs also get Keith Marshall back who is just as deadly with the rock in his hands. You throw two five star running backs out of high school (Nick Chubb and Sony Michel) and the bulldogs all of the sudden have likely the best backfield in college football.
On defense, the bulldogs welcome first year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt who has was the secondary coach at Alabama from 2010-2012 and defensive coordinator for FSU in 2013. Pruitt has three National Titles under his belt. Last season his Seminole defense was first in the nation in scoring defense (10.7 ppg), third in the nation in total defense (248.2 ypg), second in the nation in passing defense, and first in the nation in interceptions (26). The bulldogs used a lot of man coverage under Todd Grantham. The problem Grantham had was consistency. You saw a lot of his players confused or out of place. Grantham's defenses would also give up a lot of big plays and were heavily penalized. They relied a lot on athleticism in the past to make up for the defense's confusion. Pruitt has been brought in not just because of his resume, but because of what he's been able to do in a short amount of time. He's known to bring out of the strengths of his players and I don't see why he won't in Athens. The only question is that how long will it take for his defense to click?
This years game is between the hedges. The last time Tech played in Athens the bulldogs were up 28-3 by halftime and never looked back. Tech put up 426 yards but still lost 42-10. Last year's game was not a sleeper. The Yellow Jackets dominated the first half with two touchdown catches by DeAndre Smelter and a three yard touchdown keeper by Vad Lee. The second half was a different story with Georgia giving the rock to Todd Gurley who ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns. The game went into two overtimes and on a fourth and five on the six yard line, Vad Lee's pass to Darren Waller is tipped by Damian Swann and the bulldogs hold on to win the game 41-34.
This year the dogs are healthier and have a ton of talent and also have a new defensive coordinator. The Yellow Jackets are going back to their bread and butter with two quarterbacks who can run the offense. The problem Tech has had in the series is stopping the run. Tech has got to limit Gurley's big plays. The Jackets also have to get more third and outs against the bulldogs and keep Georgia's offense off the field. I think Tech keeps it competitive but the bulldogs just have too much talent and pull away in the fourth quarter and win.
Does Tech have a chance to upset this year in Athens? How can they win this game?