The Wins That Matter Most
Welcome back for Round 2 of The Upper North Perspective. I want to start off with a sincere thank you to the FTRS community for reading the column and so actively commenting and debating on the subject. The community actively engaged in the topic, and I could not be more excited about that.
A goal of mine is to source potential topics from the comments, so I actively read and jot down ideas to research. The responses went into a variety of subjects that would be great to feature in The Upper North Perspective. “BooBooBoo” threw out a wonderful idea to cover CPJ, recruiting rankings, bathroom choices, gorilla deaths, gun control, and the ever exciting how we compare to Stanford all in one column, but I think that one is better suited for a different day.
With all that said, this is the start of a two part column looking at our schedule and the importance each win takes. We will dive back in with a closer look at the ACC Coastal and where Tech fits in the Wheel of Destiny.
Looking at the 2016 Schedule
Let’s look at the 2016 schedule and rank each game for what a win can do for us and our perception. I am one who freely admits that all wins matter; however, certain wins do matter more for perception just as some losses mean more. The most logical way for me to analyze what each win means to me as a Tech fan is to assume that we will win them all. I will rank these based on the value and significance I think each win provides for Georgia Tech.
#12 Mercer, 9/10/16- This one is fairly obvious and a good example of what I mean by the changing perception of wins and losses. A win here obviously ranks low on the list, but a loss would be damaging for the perception of the program nationally and in the state. Winning big here is great for our program to assert some dominance and get young guys game experience.
#11 Vanderbilt, 9/17/16, Tech leads 1-0 since 2008- This game is low on the list, but it is still important. Vandy is a lower tier SEC school, but they are still a SEC school. Conference superiority is impacted by this matchup, so it is important for Tech to be great here. This is a big game for our momentum as it is right before Clemson comes to town. A strong win here will be important for team psyche.
#10 Georgia Southern, 10/15/16, Tech leads 1-0 since 2008- I rank GSU as tenth on this list due simply to the Eagles not being a P5 opponent. This is similar to a win over Mercer as it does not do much for us, but it would be damaging to not win. This also asserts our dominance over a state school. This cannot be undervalued.
#9 Virginia, 11/19/16, Tech leads 5-3 since 2008- It will be extremely valuable to get a win and better our position for an ACC championship bid. This traditional opponent ranks lower on the list due to the perceived notion that they will not be a contender this year. A win here would not rattle the cage, but it will strengthen our stance in the ACC. ACC wins are always important.
#8 @Pittsburgh, 10/8/16, Tech leads 2-1 since 2008- This matchup does not have enough history to move the needle in either direction; however, each game has been unique. This game has value as an ACC game, and it is important to avenge last year’s loss when GT truly had Pitt on the ropes.
#7 @North Carolina, 11/5/16, Tech leads 5-3 since 2008- After back to back losses to the defending ACC Coastal champs, I am surprised I havethem here. Maybe I do not consider the wins by them all that impressive. Maybe I chalk up the loss last year to losing Adam Gotsis on a questionable targeting call. This game will be important as North Carolina should be in the top tier of the ACC Coastal again, and a November ACC win will be valuable.
#6 Boston College (Ireland), 9/3/16, Tech leads 2-0 since 2008- First game of the season with an ACC opponent in a time slot that kicks off the first college football Saturday of 2016? That is the reason why this game is important. This game provides a national platform to show that the 2016 team is different and gives the offense a chance to show its worth against an oft-dominant defense.
#5 Miami, 10/1/16, Tech is 2-6 since 2008- I actually almost had them lower on this list behind North Carolina, but my hate won out. We cannot ignore the dominance that Miami has showed in this series. It is important for Tech to change this trend with Mark Richt at the helm for Miami. Richt has owned Tech over the years. It is important to not let that roll over to this tenure. Though Miami has not been relevant locally, a win over Miami carries weight nationally.
#4 Duke, 10/29/16, Tech leads 6-2 since 2008- This game has gained importance over the last few years with Duke’s emergence, and they hold a two game winning streak over Tech. This cannot continue. It’s Duke. However, this game is on the rise due to the conflicts between Paul Johnson and David Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe made comments about cut-blocking and questioned why WRs would want to come to Tech, among other things. They have played nice publicly, but we know this is a big deal for both. It is important to reestablish dominance over Duke in the Coastal and halt the winning streak.
#3 @Virginia Tech, 11/12/16, Tech is 2-6 since 2008- It is no secret what this game means in the Coastal division annually. For the longest time, this game decided who went to the ACC championship. The rivalry has not held that meaning recently, but this game has an impact in the division standings. It is important for Tech to win to establish itself, yet again, over a new head coach. This game gained traction quickly in the ACC, and it is one of the games I circle every year.
#2 Georgia, 11/26/16, Tech is 2-6 since 2008- Hear me out on this pick. This is really more of a 1A and 1B for me this year, but I argue that the Clemson win will carry more weight at the end of the season. For a large portion of the fan base, this is the most important game every year, and it is always a top one for me as well. With Kirby Smart leading Georgia, Tech has a chance to change the culture of the series. A win in this matchup will place doubts in the Dawgs fan base, and it will give our team and community a sense that times are changing. For the statewide perception, this game is valuable, and it plays into the ACC/SEC rivalry. This game is huge for CPJ and Tech, but it is not the biggest for this year.
#1 Clemson, 9/22/16, Tech leads 5-4 (yes, 5-4) since 2008- When Clemson comes to Bobby Dodd this September, they have a real chance of being undefeated and a top two team. This Clemson team was also the nation’s runner-up playing in the NC last year. Deshaun Watson is back, and everyone is expecting this new era of Clemsoning, which is winning, to continue. Clemson is not going anywhere and will be a top team for the entire season. That is part of the reason this game is so big. If you read the recruiting interviews for GT’s incoming class, the common answer for who they look forward to playing most is Clemson. Clemson matters to recruits across the nation, and they are a marquee team that kids want to play. This game will do more for us than any other when it comes to recruiting. Clemson is also in this position due to the timing of the matchup. Clemson comes to town early and will be the first ranked team GT will play this season. It is on a Thursday night in front of the entire nation. This gives Justin Thomas the ability to show that Tech is back to 2014 form. A win also gives the young guys who suffered through the 3-9 season a chance to gain a belief that they belong at the top tier of college football. At the end of the year, a win over Georgia is going to be for state pride, but this win will be over a top 10 team that propelled GT to better things for the rest of 2016.
Now, it is your time to let me know how you see the significance of the games. This is how they stack up for me, so I am excited to see why yours may be similar or different. Thanks for reading again, and I will see you next week!