Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson wanted his players to focus on their FCS opponent, Alabama A&M, and not on the looming showdown with hated rival Georgia.
The Yellow Jackets seemed to get the message, blasting the visiting Bulldogs of A&M 66-7 on Saturday afternoon. With their tune up out of the way, it was all clear for the Jackets to say they are ready for some “Clean Old-Fashioned Hate” on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Jackets don’t need to be reminded that Georgia has dominated both the all-time series (63-39-5) and the recent history. None of the current Jackets has beaten the Bulldogs, who have won four consecutive games and 11 of the past 12 in the series.
That means the last home game for Tech’s seniors also is their final shot to beat Georgia.
“That’s big motivation going into next week, that we haven’t done it,” Tech senior offensive tackle Will Jackson said. “If we were able to do it that would definitely be the highlight of our time here. Nobody feels it more than we (players) do, not having beaten those guys in so long. But certainly our fans and alumni and the students put a lot of onus on that game.
“It’s a huge game for everybody involved, so there’s no extra motivation needed.”
Tech coach Paul Johnson beat Georgia 45-42 in his first season, but has lost by increasing margins since then: 30-24, 42-34, 31-17, and 42-10.
“It’s a big game,” Johnson said. “We haven’t played up to our potential the last couple years. We need to play better.”
It would seem Tech has a chance to end the streak this year — and not only because the Jackets are 5-1 at home. The Bulldogs are finishing a relatively disappointing season after they came just short of winning the SEC in 2012.
The Bulldogs started the season with aspirations for a BCS championship and were still in the hunt after winning four in a row following a season-opening loss at Clemson. But injuries, inconsistency and a loss to Missouri ended those hopes.
Georgia’s chances for an SEC East title ended with a deflating loss to Auburn last week. The Bulldogs lost on a touchdown pass off a deflection in the final minute.
“Hated to see them lose that way,” Jackson said sarcastically. “That was terribly unfortunate.”
Georgia still boasts a formidable offense led by quarterback Aaron Murray and running back Todd Gurley. The Bulldogs also should be motivated to make sure a sour season doesn’t get worse with a loss to Tech.
Before the season, some of Tech’s players said beating Georgia was a bigger goal than winning the ACC. After all, the Jackets won the conference in 2009, but the current players haven’t defeated Georgia.
“It’s probably the biggest game of the year for us,” Jackets A-back Robert Godhigh said. “Being a senior, it definitely means a lot to go out there and try to beat those guys, (especially) being the last game at home as well. It’s a big game for us, and we are going to take it that way in practice.”