Georgia Tech lost to Pitt 31-28 Saturday. That makes five straight defeats, and if you thought, "There goes the season after losses to Duke and North Carolina," well, there REALLY goes the season. Here's a link to my full game column MyAJC.com. Below my three "short takes" on the game:
1) Infamy Dead Ahead: Here's how five straight losses can bury a program. Neither of these two streaks are talked about a lot, but Georgia Tech's long run of bowl appearances and non-losing ACC season are both likely to end. The Jackets have gone to bowl games in 18 straight seasons and have posted winning or .500 records in the conference 20 straight years. But at 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the ACC, Tech would need to go 4-1 in the final five games to become bowl eligible and sweep its last four ACC games to go .500. With remaining games against Florida State, at Virginia, Virginia Tech, at Miami and Georgia, that just ain't happening. Things haven't been this depressing on The Flats since the final days of coach Bill Lewis, who was fired after starting 1-7 in a 1-10 season in 1994.
2) The Marshall Plan: Whether because of injuries or just plain old inadequacy, Tech's offense has struggled to find a consistently effective rusher this season (other than quarterback Justin Thomas). But freshman Marcus Marshall may be the answer to their problems. The freshman, making his first start of the season at B-back for Patrick Skov, had two 58-yards runs (one for a touchdown) and finished with 10 carries for 159 yards and (two) touchdowns. He has a nice burst of speed when he gets into the open field -- which assumes he can find open field, given Georgia Tech's blocking issues. It's probably safe to assume the starting job is now his.
3) The D (-minus) is for Defense: It has been a problem all season. In fact, defense has been a problem throughout the Paul Johnson era. Saturday was no different, as the Jackets allowed 31 points and two fourth-down conversions on Pitt's game-deciding, seven-minute field goal drive. Tech's offense tends to be the lightning rod for criticism but the defense is what has been losing games. But in four of the last five games, the Jackets allowed 457 yards to Notre Dame, 413 to North Carolina, 537 to Clemson and 391 to Pitt. Tech started the week ranked next to last (and 73rd nationally) in scoring defense (26.8) and 77th nationally in rush defense. "We're ranked 10th to 14th in pretty much every category," Johnson said. That can't happen.