As we close in on the beginning of the season, we’ve already talked about each of the teams that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will be playing this season. Now, the members of the staff will be giving their best-, worst-, and likely-case scenarios for the upcoming season. We start today with the best-case scenarios!
With the most gold-tinted of glasses on, I think the Jackets will go 11-1 in the regular season, winning the Coastal but taking a loss to Clemson along the way. To go through the games real fast: Alcorn State is dispatched with little concern; South Florida can’t put it together on offense without Quinton Flowers; Tech stomps a middling Pittsburgh, but can’t overcome the talent disparity versus Clemson; Bowling Green is expectedly a snooze-fest; losing Lamar Jackson is too much for Louisville; Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils mismanage a tough close game; Justin Fuente and VPISU still can’t figure out the flexbone in year 3; Larry Fedora and UNC are still rebuilding; a few bounces don’t go Miami’s way on the Flats; and Virginia actually really only has 27 ACC-caliber players on its roster and rolls over. That brings us to this year’s addition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate: Tech has been on a hot streak between the hedges at Athens Community College, and if the defense plays lights-out (which it should in this best-case scenario), Tech will steal another win versus the pups at their pound.
In the postseason, it’s entirely likely that a Yellow Jacket squad highly motivated by an emotional victory takes down Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Unfortunately, I still think the talent disparity between the two teams is too much to overcome, so even in this best-case scenario, I don’t think Tech takes this one. This will probably put us in a New Year’s Six bowl at 11-2, maybe the Peach or Fiesta versus the G5 at-large (probably Boise State or FAU), depending on how the bowl assignments work out. 12-2 with a NY6 bowl trophy to add to the Edge Center sounds pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good to me.
11-3 (two losses to Clemson, one to uga). There’s no reason we shouldn’t win every game outside of those three, it’s just a matter of execution. I think in those three games we can keep one close, but both Clemson and uga are just on another level compared to us right now. Teams like Virginia Tech and Miami will still be heavy favorites but we can certainly punch above our weight class when we’re playing well. We finish off the year with a solid bowl win over one of the teams from Michigan.
My best case scenario for this year for the Jackets is a 10-2 regular season and a coastal division title. I can’t see any way past Clemson or uga for Tech, but the other 10 games are not outside the realm of possibility. After that, I see an ACC championship game rematch loss to Clemson in Charlotte, followed by a Peach Bowl victory back in the grand old city of Atlanta over the G5 representative in the New Year’s 6, likely either Boise State or UCF. All together, 11-3 would put us in the top ten to finish the year and would be Paul’s best coaching job in his time here at Tech.
Georgia Tech starts the season by blowing the doors off of Alcorn State. Some describe it as “Cumberland-esque.” They spoil the South Floridian sunshine with a solid first road win and follow it up with a convincing win up at Pittsburgh the next week. Somewhere, the demons of Blewitt last second field goals dissipate. Somehow, some way, Tech manages the impossible - getting a night game at Bobby Dodd. They then capitalize and in their first ranked week since the lost 2015 season they edge a squeaker against the rival Clemson Tigers at home. From there, Tech is firing on all cylinders, knocking off Bowling Green, Louisville, and then Duke on homecoming weekend. The Jackets, long befuddled on Thursday night against the Hokies (what’s a Hokie anyways?) manage to pull that one off, too. That’s the way this season is going. They take their second in a row against the Tar Heels before the whiteout back on the Flats against Miami. A second night game on the Flats? You bet. Tech takes that one too, and finishes the season strong against a reeling Virginia team before showing up between the hedges for the rivarly-est game of the year. They prune the hedges and take their third straight in Athens. Tech faces a surprise Boston College team in the ACC Championship game, wins, and gets sent to a familiar place: the Orange Bowl. They win, defeating the Pac 12 champion Stanford Cardinal. They meet the SEC Champion in the national champion and take their second in a row from the school out East. 15-0. National Champions. We run this state. How about them apples? Don’t @ me, this is literally the best thing that could ever happen, dream big, friends.
Making the playoff is still beyond the realm of possibility. Another Orange Bowl appearance, though? Look, if TaQuon Marshall has improved on his passing game and the offensive line can keep it together, the Coastal is there for the taking. The two biggest threats aren’t without their flaws, and just going 1-1 against them could be enough to make it to Charlotte. The problem is, Clemson will be waiting there, and Tech isn’t beating them, even in a rematch. Still, just like in 2014, 10-3 should be good enough to send the Jackets to Miami. And that would be pretty cool. I mean, it’d actually be warm, but you know what I mean.
12-2 with losses to Clemson (x2). uga falls way short of expectations after losing seniors off of last year’s team. Win in the Orange Bowl over Wisconsin in a game that lasts 96 minutes total.
The Yellow Jackets get off to a nice 3-0 start, holding opponents to a combined less than 30 points and probably shutting out Alcorn State for Tech’s first shut out in a while (Internet points if you know the last time). Coming into Clemson, both teams are 3-0 and looks at weekly schedule will probably be at 3:30. Both teams come out, and Tech’s offense still isn’t able to do much, because I’m convinced no offense can do well against that Clemson front four. Tech’s new aggressive defense really starts to show off a little bit in this game, getting some decent pressure to cause a few turnovers. It ultimately isn’t enough, but Tech loses a close one 17-14. From there, Tech starts to run over some teams (looking at you Bowling Green, Louisville, and Duke). And then the Tecmo Bowl. Thursday night in Blacksburg, it’ll probably be raining. Both teams play a really sloppy game, but the Yellow Jackets chance it on fourth-and-short and kick a 52-yard field goal (kicker TBD) as time runs out to win 24-21. Now, with all the confidence in the world, Tech runs through its remaining opponents up to UGA, who is undefeated. There’s a chance it could be the College Gameday location, but probs not because of Bama. This would be another tough game, but because this is the best-case scenario, I’ll say Tech wins on the back of its defense turning in one of the best performances of its season and TaQuon Marshall having three total touchdowns. Tech wins 35-10 and heads off to Charlotte for a rematch with Clemson. This time around, it’s more of the same as neither offense is able to do a whole lot. Tech gets revenge and wins 14-13 and heads off to the CFP. And now that I’m drinking the kool-aid, Tech blows through both playoffs and wins the National Championship, beating Bama in the Championship Game 21-14.
10-2 in the regular season with losses to Clemson and uga. We’d most likely lose to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game and go to our 3rd Orange Bowl in 10 years.
Best case is 10-2 with the two losses coming to Clemson and Georgia. That’s not to say that we don’t have the capability to beat either of those teams, but rather that a best-case for a team of Tech’s talent level is to be better than everyone on the schedule expect for those two teams consistently. Of course, 2014 is a pretty great counterpoint given that we lost to Duke and UNC while beating Clemson and Georgia.