Welcome to our Top Ten of the Last Ten series. Paul Johnson has been the head coach at Georgia Tech for ten years now, so we thought this offseason would be a good time to take a look back at our ten favorite games from his time at the helm, so far. Today we’re presenting three games, because, well..... we couldn’t decide what should be number ten and what honorable mentions should be left out. We promise we’ll do better starting next week. Enjoy!
vs. Miami, 2008
White-out games feel somewhat familiar to Georgia Tech fans now, but they were a new thing in 2008, and - and this will shock you - the first one faced some resistance from Tech’s otherwise famously agreeable fanbase. “But it’s so cold!” “Where am I going to find white gear?” “I’ve always worn this beige/tan shirt to football games!” Fortunately, as the cover image shows, enough fans were able to put their bellyaching aside for one night to look pretty decent on television.
2008 was already feeling like a banner year for Georgia Tech football. A come from behind win against Clemson and the program’s first win vs. FSU since 1975 had the fanbase buzzing. This was the final game on the schedule before facing Georgia in Athens - a Thursday night game vs. #23 Miami. Athletics’ decision to hold the first white-out on this game paid off in spades. Tech busted out a halfback option which saw Demaryius Thomas successfully complete a pass to Lucas Cox, Paul Johnson called an onside kick in the second quarter just because, and Michael Johnson had a pick six and Chris Fowler revealed that was why NFL scouts loved him. (And here we all thought it was his pass rush.) Jonathan Dwyer racked up 128 rushing yards in the first half and called it a day; the rest of the team, to their credit, chipped in another 344, making the total on the day 472. It was a beating the likes of which Miami had almost never seen before, and it’s comforting to know this success both vs. the Hurricanes and on weekday nights continued for years to come.
**stares into the abyss**
at Virginia Tech, 2014
Frank Beamer was always a bit of a bugbear for Paul Johnson. Remembering the last two wins against VT were with Justin Fuente at the helm, Johnson’s record vs. Beamer was 2-6. Not great! And in Blacksburg, that record was even more forgettable. Literally; who hasn’t tried to forget an iffy helmet-to-helmet call in 2008, Joshua Nesbitt breaking his arm in 2010, and Tech showing up on national television, on Labor Day, in these abominations in 2012? (I’m told that game also featured a late defensive breakdown which ultimately cost Tech the game, and why does my entire body suddenly feel itchy?)
And when VT quarterback Michael Brewer recovered a fumble for a touchdown late in the 4th quarter, you likely thought, like me, that it just wasn’t going to be Tech’s day again. This was the 2014 edition of Blacksburg weirdness that did the Jackets in. Just after a PJ Davis pick six and this seeming gift of a fumble which would have given Tech major momentum - poof, there it went.
We all knew how this was ending. Three possessions later, the Hokies defense had the Jackets dead to rights, again. 4th and 15? No way. Against a Bud Foster defense? Get out of here. Who was Tech going to throw it to? The guy who was pitching for the baseball team two years ago?
This time it was the Hokies’ turn to screw everything up at the end. Two plays later, they left Smelter open, again, for a 31 yard touchdown. The next play from scrimmage, they successfully completed a pass to DJ White. That led to a two minute, 33 yard drive to set up a play which began Harrison Butker’s path to glory.
vs. Clemson, 2014
Okay, so just between me and everyone out there reading this.... this one doesn’t make my personal top ten, y’all. It carries with it a huge asterisk in the form of DeShaun Watson - who would go on to play in a national championship, and then win the one after that, and who was doing pretty good up until then - planting his foot wrong and tearing his ACL midway through the first quarter. There was also Broderick Snoddy breaking his leg with his other leg, an injury so gruesome Mike Patrick noted it would not be replayed. But Stephen made a pretty good argument for its inclusion, and it went a bit like this: Cole Stoudt came into the game to replace Watson, and on his third play, this happened. Stoudt finished the day going six for 14 with two touchdowns, which is already not great, but made worse by the fact was half of those completions and both of the touchdowns were to Georgia Tech defensive backs. Sure, Tech’s offense only got into the end zone once, but it was better than Clemson’s zero. Was it the prettiest game? No. Was it fun? Yes. Was it so quick it clocked in under three hours, and under two if you cut out all the commercials? Also yes.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Look for future installments to a) feature just one game, and b) run on Sundays. See you then for #9!