Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

With upset win, Georgia Tech suddenly has chance to go 9-4

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Games like this don't dismiss the 1-7, rock-bottom finish in the ACC last season and it's not going to make some forget the defensive collapses from this year, including the carnage in Chapel Hill a week ago.

But what happened Saturday happens frequently under coach Paul Johnson. He brings Georgia Tech the extreme highs. The Jackets, a two-touchdown underdog, stunned Virginia Tech 30-20 Saturday in a game that really wasn't that close. They did so without starting quarterback Justin Thomas, B-back Dedrick Mills and two starting offensive linemen.

Tech does this. Johnson does this. There are several reference points but three immediately come to mind:

• Last season's 22-16 win over unbeaten and No. 9 ranked Florida State.

•  A 30-24 overtime win last season over then No. 9 Georgia  (which was a 10½-point favorite).

• A 28-23 upset of No. 4 Virginia Tech in 2009, which prompted fans to tear down one of the goal posts and carry it out of Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The Jackets (6-4, 3-4) became bowl eligible with the win. If they sweep their remaining games against Virginia (they will be favored), Georgia (they will be underdogs in Athens) and the bowl game, they would finish 9-4 -- the near-inverse of last year's 3-9 finish.

"I told the team 6-6 is not what we’re after," Johnson said. "We have a chance this week to get to seven (wins) and then we have a chance to get one more. Once we were out of the conference race, I challenged our team to try to win nine games. And if you look back over the last 50 years, it hasn’t been done a lot (at Georgia Tech)."

As Johnson left the field, members of the school's marching band and some of the 150 Tech fans in attendance chanted, "CPJ! CPJ!"

That's a far cry from those who've been screaming for his firing. But he has made a history of changing the narrative.

Paul Johnson isn't going anywhere.


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Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.