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Historical Analysis: Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh

Though recent meetings have been between two middling teams, the historical matchup between Tech and Pitt has featured some exciting games between absolute giants.

An image from Georgia Tech’s 1918 game versus Pittsburgh
The Owl, 1920 (University of Pittsburgh digital archive, public domain)

With less than a day remaining before kickoff between Georgia Tech and ACC Coastal foe Pittsburgh, it’s time to take a look at the history of the series betwen the Jackets and Panthers. The brunt of the fun between the two teams has been had since Pitt joined the ACC just under five years ago, but there are still some fun matchups to dig into since the series’ first game back in 1918. Let’s get started with a look at the overall history, courtesy of

Chart courtesy of, one of the coolest sports sites on the Internet (

The Names to Know

Pop Warner | Pittsburgh Head Coach (1915-1923)

Pop Warner is to Pittsburgh what John Heisman is to Georgia Tech, but likely even better. The Warner era is hands-down the most successful in the history of Pitt football, encompassing nine seasons and three national championships to complement a 60-12-4 overall record. He toppled the Jackets in three consecutive seasons, defeating Heisman twice and Bill Alexander once.

Bobby Dodd | Georgia Tech Head Coach (1945-1966)

You know him, you love him, and he’s the only coach in Georgia Tech history not named Paul Johnson to beat Pitt, having done so twice. More on that later.

Johnny Majors | Pittsburgh Head Coach (1973-1976, 1993-1996)

We can’t get away from this man. Not only did he face the Jackets a number of times during his days at Tennessee, but he also defeated Tech twice during his first stint as head coach of Pittsburgh. Get out of here, Johnny.

Pepper Rodgers | Georgia Tech Head Coach (1974-1979) | Georgia Tech QB/K (1951-1953)

As a player, Rodgers was clearly quite versatile. His teams, unfortunately, weren’t so great on both sides of the ball, particularly against Pitt. Rodgers lost to the Panthers twice during his tenure, matching the 0-2 mark of John Heisman.

Notable Games

1918 The Jackets (or Golden Tornadoes, technically) were absolutely dismantled by the eventual champion Pitt Panthers by a final score of 32-0. The loss snapped Tech’s 33-game no-loss streak (there were two ties) under John Heisman.

1955 & 1956 The Jackets dropped two consecutive bowl games to Pitt over this period, losing the 1955 Sugar Bowl and the 1956 Gator Bowl. Both games were upsets, with Tech outranking Pitt significantly each time.

1920 The Jackets just can’t get out of the way of Pop Warner and company. The Panthers were Tech’s sole loss in the 1920 football season.

2014 Let it be remembered as the Law of Averages game that hasn’t come back to bite us quite yet. Pitt fumbled the ball five times in the first quarter, with Tech recovering each one. That little series of mishaps resulted in the second-most lopsided result in series history, 56-28 Tech.


Though it hasn’t been this way lately, Tech vs. Pittsburgh has historically been a matchup of absolute giants. The Panthers owned Tech during the days of legendary coaches Heisman and Alexander but Bobby Dodd was able to return the favor with a pair of wins of his own. Outside of that, Paul Johnson has been left to carry the banner for Tech; he’s beaten Pitt twice in four opportunities since the Panthers joined the ranks of the ACC in time for the 2013 season. Hopefully Johnson will be able to pull his head above water at 3-2 after tomorrow’s game and secure his first win against Pat Narduzzi in the process.