One of Georgia Tech’s goals for the season – to win the national championship – is out the window. That became a virtual certainty when the Yellow Jackets took their second loss of the season, at Miami on Oct. 14, and a lock with loss No. 3 at Clemson on Saturday. Despite three losses, however, other goals are still on the table, and the Jackets are still pointing at the possibility of an ACC Coastal title and a berth in the conference championship.
“My job is to explain to them that’s still out there if we take care of our business,” coach Paul Johnson said. “If we don’t take care of our business, there’s no use to worry about what happens to anybody else because it won’t matter.”
The first order of business is beating Virginia on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.
Johnson explained a tiebreaker scenario that could get the Jackets to Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 2 – Georgia Tech beats Virginia, Virginia Tech and Duke to finish the league schedule at 6-2. Virginia Tech beats Miami, loses to Georgia Tech and beats Pittsburgh and Virginia to also finish at 6-2. Miami loses to Virginia Tech and then loses one more game, to either Virginia or Pittsburgh.
It would create a three-way tie for first at 6-2 that Georgia Tech would win. The ACC’s first tiebreaker – head-to-head competition – would not separate the three teams, but the second – division record – would. In this scenario, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech would be 5-1 while Miami would be 4-2. That would eliminate Miami, and then the procedure is to revert to head to head, which the Jackets would win by virtue of its victory over the Hokies.
“Now that’s a lot of if’s, but it’s not dead,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s assessment is accurate – it’s not a terribly likely scenario. In fact, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the probability for all of those results unfolding is 2.3 percent.
Tech also has other goals set out at preseason still alive – going to a bowl game, going undefeated at home and beating Georgia.
Going undefeated at home would actually be a historic accomplishment. Since Bobby Dodd’s retirement after the 1966 season, Tech has won all of its games at Grant Field twice, when it won a share of the national championship in 1990 and in Joe Hamilton’s senior season in 1999.
At Bobby Dodd Stadium this season, Tech has beaten Jacksonville State, Pitt, North Carolina and Wake Forest. Home games remain with No. 13 Virginia Tech and No. 1 Georgia. The Jackets have lost three in a row at home to the Hokies and eight in a row at home to the Bulldogs.