Virginia landed at Hartsfield on Wednesday afternoon in advance of their weeknight contest here on the Flats. The Cavaliers and Jackets will face off at Bobby Dodd for the first time since 2018, as previous Tech turn in the rotation was skipped due to the COVID schedule adjustment. Virginia enters the matchup 2-4 and having won the previous two matchups.
Almost incidentally, I am certain that you, dear reader, know the last time Georgia Tech defeated Virginia. Based on that phrasing, an outsider might think that would be because the Jackets and Hoos have some sort of particular animus that could make wins and losses linger a little longer in the mind, but no, the real reason has everything to do with the tandem of Duke and Pittsburgh. As has been famously trumpeted from every media outlet from Atlanta to Bristol, Tech enters this game riding a two game win streak, a feat not accomplished by the Jackets since the fall of 2018, when Tech rattled off four consecutive wins against the likes of Virginia Tech (49-28 in Blacksburg), North Carolina (38-28 in Chapel Hill), Miami (27-21 at home), and, of course, Virginia (30-27 at home in overtime).
The final game of that stretch, the overtime contest against the Cavaliers to send Tech to 7-4 on the season, was certainly a wacky contest, featuring an 11 second flurry of action wherein a Brant Mitchell/Brandon Adams sack of Bryce Perkins with the Hoos pinned on the 1 yard line was followed up by a rollercoaster punt return touchdown by freshman Juanyeh Thomas to flip the script and give Tech the lead. Though Virginia would tie the game on a late field goal, Tech put three points on the board in overtime before a Virginia equalizer sailed wide of the goalposts in a finish strangely similar to the last time the Jackets took the field this season. Time, after all, is a flat circle.
Today, we’re not here to rehash the twilight hours of the Paul Johnson era. Honestly, we’re only here to tangentially talk about Virginia. With them being a familiar opponent, I’ve included a past feature on the Cavaliers to draw on, for a brief history of their program. Instead, tonight’s HTS will feature a brief look at the history of Tech’s fate in games played on weekdays.
In addition to the win streak discourse, the more attentive might have heard about a particular past edition of the featuring not only weeknight football, but current Tech head coach Brent Key, as well. I had it in mind to write about weeknight football before hearing the anecdote of his last home game for Tech coming on a Thursday night against Virginia, but now it only seems more fitting to take a look at the concept writ large.
Today marks the 1,323rd football game that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have played in their illustrious history. Of those contests, 136, or 10.3% of the total, have been played on a weekday, counted as any day besides Saturday or Sunday. Though a Tuesday or Wednesday tilt might sound a bit odd, given that the ACC’s television contract does not call for games to be played on those days, it has not been unheard of in the past for Tech to play a game in the middle of the week. The logic conclusion for these 13 midweek games is that they would be associated with bowls, as plenty of those are tied to a holiday, rather than the day of the week, or are essentially television filler arbitrarily assigned by ESPN throughout the later weeks of December.
In actuality, only ten of those games were associated with bowls, with the bowls split into each of the aforementioned types, with a pair of Orange Bowls (1947 and 2014), a Peach Bowl (2008), and a Sugar Bowl (1952), representing two premier bowls for each of Bobby Dodd and Paul Johnson, paired with a half a dozen of the latter type, most recently the dreary Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, a Wednesday that also happened to be just after Christmas. The remaining three contests are actually far more interesting, as they represent the only three times Tech has played a midweek football game outside of the postseason. While many might think of the midweek night football game as a modern invention due to weird contracts resulting in MAC fans having to freeze their way to the likes of Ypsilanti, Muncie, and DeKalb, two of the three games are positively ancient, happening roughly 120 years ago as Tech took on Furman randomly in the middle of an October week and then again three years later when John Heisman’s first team played Tennessee Meds in the middle of November. Go figure.
The only time this has happened in the modern era is when Tech opened the defense of its most recent national title in a kickoff classic against Penn State in the Meadowlands and was promptly knocked off for the first time in exactly twenty two months, falling 34-22. It really is interesting how dates work out sometimes.
As for Mondays, I looked at those separately from the midweeks, despite that being almost as rare of an occurrence. Friday and Monday games occur at roughly three times the frequency of a midweek contest, as Tech has played 19 of each. Unsurprisingly, given we just played on a Monday earlier this year, two of those games have been ACC matchups. Much like the 2022 edition of the Clemson series, the 2012 VPISU game took place on Labor Day Monday, and Tech has played in early September on Monday a grand total of four times, with another memorable occasion being the opening weekend of Mercedes Benz Stadium in 2017, no matter how painful that Tennessee double overtime loss was in the moment. Otherwise, Tech counts just four regular season games on Mondays in the heart of the calendar, spread between 1899 and 1925.
As for Fridays, Tech has played two conference games, both of which, oddly enough, have come against the Louisville Cardinals, who Tech has also only played two times in all of history. Another odd coincidence, to say the least. Before the 2018 Louisville game, which gave the world this masterpiece of short story, Tech’s most recent Friday game took place against Auburn, a game that remains the most recent matchup between the two storied rivals. Counting the aforementioned games, Tech has played 12 Friday regular season games since 1892, including one edition of Clean, Old Fashioned Hate, in which interim coach George O’Leary’s 1994 team was walloped 48-10.
Interestingly, but likely unsurprisingly, most weekday games have taken place on a Thursday, with Tech playing 85 times on the day. While many would think that would be due to the ACC television contract usually putting Tech on Thursday every few years, this is also due to the now long-gone tradition of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Tech has played a startlingly large amount of teams on the holiday, with nine schools — St. Albans, Ft. McPherson, Clemson, Alabama, South Carolina, Cumberland, Auburn, Florida, and Athens — combining for 37 (or 43.5%) of Tech’s Thursday appearances. No, that Cumberland game is not the Cumberland game, as it took place instead in 1904 and Tech won a much more competitive 18-0 affair. Those first six opponents listed, through Cumberland, represent 7 Thanksgiving games from 1893 to 1904, twelve years, or eleven seasons, counting the year Tech did not field a team.
Tech’s first regular Thanksgiving rival was Clemson, and many of the early editions of that series took place on Thanksgiving in Atlanta. 12 games from 1898 to 1914 were staged, the bulk of the early portion of that rivalry. In 1915, Auburn took the role of Tech’s season-ending rivalry week opponent, contesting the next 15 seasons’ worth of games on Thanksgiving, through 1929. Though Tech would play Florida the following year on the holiday, the school in Athens took its traditional place at the end of the schedule from the 1930s onward. Clean, Old Fashioned Hate has been played five times on Thanksgiving, in 1898, 1971, 1975, 1993, and 1995, with Tech losing all five. All time, Tech is 21-14-2 on the day.
Other notable Thursday Tech tidbits include 32 previous ACC games, with Tech hosting 24, since the 1983 season, including a 2016 contest against Clemson that was personally memorable due to being my first Tech night game during the fall of my freshman year and having too many midterms the next day. Tech is slightly below .500 in these games, winning 14, including a nasty 7 game skid from 2009 to that 2016 game.
All in all, Tech has played Virginia five times on weeknights — 1983, 1991, 1993, 2000, and 2006 — all on Thursdays during the ACC era, and has gone 4-1 in those games, most recently winning in 2006. All have taken place at Bobby Dodd.
In total, Tech has a .523 record in all weekday games, winning 70 over the course of their history. Tonight, Tech goes for their sixth Thursday night win over Virginia, and aims to take the lead in the all time series by the slimmest of all margin, a single game.
This evening, Georgia Tech and Virginia will meet for the 44th time in the history of the matchup, with the series knotted at 21-21-1, so tonight’s winner will decisively put themselves ahead in the action. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN, but tune in here at From the Rumble Seat for coverage via the gameday thread and the postgame recap, along with live updates via @FTRSBlog on Twitter.