Countdown to Kickoff: 14 Days
As we enter the final quarter of our 100 Days to Kickoff series, we'll spend the rest of this week covering some season scenarios, mapping out where things could theoretically end up.
2017 Best-Case Scenarios
Tech football looked a lot different when I first drafted this article on a plane Friday morning. By the time my flight landed, oh, how the world had changed. That said, I’m going to stand by what I said. First off, this is the best case scenario. Not the most likely scenario, or even what I think is probably going to happen. This is simply what could happen if everything works in our favor. Clearly, that hasn’t been the case so far.
The past three seasons, Georgia Tech has been a terrific example of why preseason projections are almost always wrong. In 2014, everything went great, and we won the Orange Bowl. In 2015, not so much. Last year was a nice return to form, but didn’t match the highs of 2014. Those three years, with the head coach, quarterback, and many other key pieces remaining constant, still managed to surprise us. What do we have in store for 2017? It’s hard to tell. If we want to accept the best case scenario, though, I think we’d all be pleased with it.
A note on Dedrick Mills: the world is not ending. Of course, he’s a good player. Our season is not over. Strangely, sports have made me an eternally, if somewhat foolishly, optimistic person. “This is the year,” the saying goes. This still could be a great year on the Flats. I’ll put it this way: the stellar A-Backs are all still here. Nothing has changed on defense. We still have to find a quarterback. Do we need a B-Back who can run and block? Sure. But Paul Johnson is not worried. This is not the end of the world. Let’s enjoy football season for what it is: an unpredictable game which we haven’t even started yet. So, in the meantime, let’s get back to predicting it.
September 4, 2017 – Georgia Tech 27, Tennessee 24
There’s a lot of hype going into this game at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium. A lot of it centers around Tech’s offense and how Tennessee’s defense is preparing for it. There are some notable absences on both, adding to the drama. However, Georgia Tech will not fail to put up points. Nor will Tennessee. It’ll be a close game, but Tech, led by Matthew Jordan, will eke out a victory and return back to campus with a resume-building win notched in their belts.
September 9, 2017 – Georgia Tech 34, Jacksonville State 21
No sooner do the Volunteers fade of memory, then do the Gamecocks come rolling in. Not the South Carolinian type, but the Alabaman one. On short rest, Georgia Tech will give up more points than they did to last year’s FCS foe, Mercer, but it’ll still be a win. Though Jacksonville State fields a lot of highly-regarded talent, the Jackets are a better team, and it shows through. They open the slate at Bobby Dodd with a victory.
September 16, 2017 – Georgia Tech 31, Central Florida 17
Next, the Jackets head south to Orlando. Funny enough, current athletic director Todd Stansbury organized this game a few years back, when he held the same position at UCF. In this game, it is Stansbury’s new team, though, that leaves the field victorious, despite letting UCF make it too close for comfort in the third quarter. Once they step back on the gas, they seal the win and cap a successful trip to Florida.
September 23, 2017 – Georgia Tech 38, Pittsburgh 31
Back on the Flats, Tech looks to knock off a team that yanked victory out of their grasp two years in a row. The Panthers, a team in transition, still never quit, despite going down early. They return an offensive scheme that rakes in points, but no team wants to spot their opponent a two touchdown lead like they do on this Saturday afternoon, and the Jackets take this one by a score.
September 30, 2017 – Georgia Tech 35, North Carolina 24
At home for the second week in a row, Georgia Tech faces a 2-2 Tar Heel team still on unsure footing, after being upset by the California Golden Bears in week one, losing to Louisville, and only barely squeaking past rival Duke. Tech takes a commanding lead, while slowly giving it back in the second half to an increasingly-competent, and confident, North Carolina offense. However, a key stop and quick touchdown seals the game for the Jackets.
October 7, 2017 – BYE
Sitting at 5-0, the Jackets have turned heads and now find themselves sitting in the mid teens in the AP Poll. They enjoy a brief respite, as campus empties for Fall Break, while looking ahead to the biggest game so far: a primetime showdown against the Miami Hurricanes.
October 12, 2017 – Georgia Tech 24, Miami 21
In a game that lived up to its billing, Georgia Tech wins with a field goal late in the fourth. The tense, back-and-forth game was a tribute to solid defenses. The effective Hurricanes’ secondary smothered the Yellow Jacket offense. In the end, a few big plays and a late field goal were enough for Tech to take the win on the road. It wasn’t the easiest, but a win is a win.
October 21, 2017 – Georgia Tech 34, Wake Forest 14
After getting a 9-day recovery, the Jackets return to the Flats to face the Demon Deacons for the first time since 2010. The Deacs, suffering a sharp decline after the return to bowl eligibility in 2016, crumble early under the onslaught of the Jackets’ solid rushing. Tech runs all over Wake Forest and cruises to their easiest win in weeks, but the biggest test lay ahead the next week.
October 28, 2017 – Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 21
A 7-0 Georgia Tech team at 7-0 Clemson in Death Valley? That’s a game to watch. Sadly for the Jackets, they do not escape Clemson with a win. Even without their talented quarterback, the defending champions are still really, really good. Despite making it close early in the fourth, the Tigers hand the Jackets their first defeat, but, if there’s such thing as a quality loss, this is it.
November 4, 2017 – Georgia Tech 31, Virginia 10
Thankfully for Tech, the next week is a little easier. Virginia, still struggling to replace the star of a 2-10 team in Taquan Mizzell, hasn’t fared well in Bronco Mendenhall’s sophomore season. Though previous trips to Charlottesville have proved costly for the Jackets, the win was a convincing return to to normal. A routine win in Charlottesville in a game they never trailed.
November 11, 2017 – Georgia Tech 24, VPISU 17
Back in Atlanta, Virginia Tech pays a visit on Veteran’s Day. Having defeated Miami on the road the week before, they come into the Flats with confidence and swagger. This, however, distracts them, and they fall into a hole early. After fighting back, a crucial pick gives Tech a 14-10 lead. The back-and-forth contest trades leads yet again before the Jackets tie it at 17. Midway through the fourth, Tech scratches out a touchdown and holds on for dear life to the win, knocking away a deep pass as time expires, sending the Hokies back to Blacksburg disappointed.
November 18, 2017 – Georgia Tech 38, Duke 24
Was last year’s 4-8 letdown an anomaly? So far, that hasn’t been the case. After losing to lowly Virginia, they’ve gone 1-3 and look listless. However, they manage to give the Jackets chase until their weary defensive line, on the field for the majority of the game, fades. Though Daniel Jones deserves some of his hype, the quarterback just doesn’t have enough support to tie the game in the fourth. Instead, Tech adds another touchdown and coasts out the rest of a comfortable 14 point victory.
November 25, 2017 – Georgia Tech 30, georgia 27
Remember how much talent georgia has coming back this season? We definitely hear a lot about it. Think of it this way: that’s the same talent that led them to a 7-5 record in the regular season last year. Despite making strides, they prove inadequate in their pursuit of the Jackets. On another thrilling late touchdown, Coach Paul Johnson’s crew takes their first game from the dawgs in Bobby Dodd this millennium and first winning streak of Johnson’s tenure. Seriously. It’s about time.
December 2, 2017 – Florida State 31, Georgia Tech 19
All the hype for the Jackets comes crashing to a halt in Charlotte. Exhausted from the grind of the season, the Jackets don’t have enough to keep up with the Seminoles, and, for the most part, respond to Florida State touchdowns with field goals. Though they each score on five possessions, Tech’s aren’t fruitful enough to secure them the ACC crown and instead, the Jackets settle for the Orange Bowl. What a disappointment, the Orange Bowl.
December 30, 2017 – Georgia Tech 35, Auburn 24
With a whole month to rest and recuperate, Georgia Tech once again draws an SEC team in bowl season. Entering the game riding a five game winning streak against the SEC, they knock off another in a pass-happy affair in Miami. Having stabilized their passing, which had struggled the previous two games, Tech dispatches an unsuspecting Auburn with a devastating combination of their running and aerial attacks. They leave with the Orange Bowl trophy for the second time in four years. Clinton Lynch and Jerry Howard split the MVP award with two touchdowns apiece (along with another by Qua Searcy), and everyone wonders, “Dedrick, who?”
2017 Best Case Results:
|September 4||Tennessee||Atlanta, GA (Mercedes Benz Stadium)||27 - 24|
|September 9||Jacksonville State||Atlanta, GA||34 - 21|
|September 16||Central Florida||Orlando, FL||31 - 17|
|September 23||Pittsburgh||Atlanta, GA||38 - 31|
|September 30||North Carolina||Atlanta, GA||35 - 24|
|October 12||Miami (FL)||Miami, FL||24 - 21|
|October 21||Wake Forest||Atlanta, GA||34 - 14|
|October 28||Clemson||Clemson, SC||21 - 31|
|November 4||Virginia||Charlottesville, VA||31 - 10|
|November 11||Virginia Tech||Atlanta, GA||24 - 17|
|November 18||Duke||Durham, NC||38 - 24|
|November 25||georgia||Atlanta, GA||30 - 27|
|December 2||Florida State||Charlotte, NC||19 - 31|
|December 30||Auburn||Miami, FL||35 - 24|
This is all a best-case scenario, not how things must unfold, or even what I expect will happen. Like most things, it will likely be closer to the middle. How rose-colored should Tech’s glasses be for this year, especially in light of Friday’s events?