Georgia Tech vs. Georgia: Keys to Rivalry Clash for Each Team

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2012

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 17: Head Coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs huddles with his team before the game against the Georgia Southern Eagles at Sanford Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Massive BCS bowl implications and in-state bragging rights will be on the line when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets march into Sanford Stadium to take on the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs.

The Yellow Jackets come into the game winners of three straight contests and will be playing for the ACC championship on Dec. 1. 

Nevertheless, Georgia Tech certainly won't be looking too far ahead. The Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry has always been strong, and destroying the Bulldogs' national championship dreams would be a huge momentum boost heading into next week.

Georgia, meanwhile, will simply look to execute, get away with a win and hope that Auburn pulls off a massive upset over No. 2 Alabama. 

How can both sides get to their desired goal? Here is a look at the keys to victory for each side on Saturday. 


Georgia Tech 

Tevin Washington/Vad Lee Combo Must Have Huge Game

Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson has gone unorthodox with a two-quarterback approach, and it's worked swimmingly thus far. Georgia Tech has won four of its five games since Vad Lee took a more integral role in the offense, as the team now has a fresh dual-threat quarterback on every possession.

Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, none of those games came against a team even sniffing Georgia's stratosphere. The Bulldogs are giving up just 18.4 points per game this season and have allowed a mere 33 points in their past four games.

Johnson's offensive system is almost wholly reliant on the excellence of his quarterbacks on the ground. Without Lee and Washington having a strong game, the stable of running backs will struggle to excel as well.


Defense Must Rise to the Challenge

While the quarterbacks hold the key to keeping Georgia Tech in the game, the Yellow Jackets defense will be the deciding factor on Saturday.

Georgia Tech's defense has allowed five opponents to score over 40 points, as the unit has struggled all season to stop sustained scoring drives.

If the Yellow Jackets were looking for a reprieve on Saturday, they won't find it. The Georgia offense has been fantastic for much of 2012, thriving on efficiency from quarterback Aaron Murray and big plays from the scintillating rushing attack.

Simply put, Georgia Tech will have to play way above its head to keep this game close. Still, isn't that the recipe for just about every upset in the history of everdom? 


Georgia Bulldogs

Discipline on Defense

The Yellow Jackets destroy opposing defenses because overly aggressive members of the front seven jump on fakes. This leaves wide-open lanes for ball-carriers and frustrates defensive coordinators to no end, because it's all extremely preventable.

As Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham knows, his team isn't exactly averse to making those mistakes. The Bulldogs rank in the back half of the SEC in just about every run defense category imaginable, and they give up 151 yards per game on the ground.

All things considered, if Georgia sticks to its average, the No. 3 team in the land will skate to an easy victory. But the professional stylings of SEC offenses certainly won't prepare the Bulldogs for this gimmicky Georgia Tech running attack.

If the Bulldogs practice discipline and slow down the Yellow Jackets on the ground, they win. If not, there will be a lot of disappointed fans wearing red on Saturday.


Don't Take Georgia Tech Lightly

On paper, Georgia Tech is a middling team in a weak conference that runs a one-dimensional offensive attack and has a struggling defense. 

The Bulldogs players know this, as do their fans and coaches.

If talent was the only factor in this game, Georgia would walk away with an easy victory and would start watching the scoreboard, hoping for an Alabama loss.

However, if the last few weeks (or history for that matter) can teach us anything, it's that there is no impenetrable team. Every squad has an exploitable flaw, and the Bulldogs saw that firsthand earlier this season when they got eviscerated by South Carolina.

Head coach Mark Richt needs to keep his players focused on the task at hand and come away with a victory before looking forward. If Georgia takes its foot off the gas pedal at any moment on Saturday, the Yellow Jackets will take advantage, steal momentum and come away with an upset.

If the Bulldogs play a full 60 minutes? Well, then, it's about time to become the biggest Auburn fans on the planet.



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