Georgia Tech as Coastal champion? Yep, it could happen

It was a stretch to think the Yellow Jackets could be in such a position, but here they are. (AP photo)

It was a stretch to think the Jackets could be in such a position, but here they are. (AP photo)

With one conference game remaining, Georgia Tech stands a real chance of winning the Coastal Division. This development is so outrageous as to shock someone who picked Georgia Tech to win the Coastal Division. Namely, me.

Know how bettors at the horse track turn losing tickets into a cascade of confetti? That’s what I’d done, albeit figuratively, with that prediction. Tech was 2-4 halfway through the season, 1-3 in ACC play. No way, I figured, that Virginia Tech and/or Miami — they’d beaten the Yellow Jackets in overtime — would lose the four conference games needed for Georgia Tech to finish ahead of both. Well, the Hokies have, and Miami might, and even if the Hurricanes don’t, the Jackets could still play for the conference championship. (More on this in a bit.)

There’s also the likelihood that Georgia Tech, should it squeeze into the title game in Charlotte, will do so at 6-6. (Assuming a victory over Duke on Saturday and a loss at Georgia on Nov. 24.) This wouldn’t be the greatest advertisement for ACC football, but the last great advertisement for ACC football came in the 20th Century. Somebody has to win this  crazy league, and who better than these Jackets?

Georgia Tech is 68th among 120 FBS teams in total defense, 83rd in scoring defense. It dumped its defensive coordinator in midstream and has actually seen its points-against average rise since the change — from 30.17 under Al Groh to 30.25 under the interim Charles Kelly. The Jackets are still yielding 40-plus points every other game (three times in six with Groh, two in four without), and somehow they have a chance to be champions of one of the Big Six conferences.

Cold numbers don’t quite capture the degree of improbability. Tech needed three big things to happen last week, and all three did: Florida State scored with 40 seconds remaining to beat Virginia Tech on Thursday; Virginia scored with six seconds remaining to beat Miami on Saturday, and the Jackets won at North Carolina on a day when they yielded 50 points but scored 68.

If the Jackets beat Duke — they’re a double-digit favorite, which might not be a great thing — they’ll finish 5-3 in league play. Miami must win at Duke on Nov. 24 to get to 5-3. If Tech and Miami tie for first, the Hurricanes win the tiebreaker. (Thanks to their 42-36 victory here Sept. 22, a game the Jackets led by 17 points entering the fourth quarter.)

There’s another way Tech can make it, but it has nothing to do with Tech. Miami is facing NCAA sanctions, and the school is trying to decide if, in the attempt to lessen those penalties, it should impose a postseason ban on itself. The ACC will not allow Miami to represent the Coastal in the title game and then decide to skip a bowl; the conference has made it known that the Hurricanes must declare their intentions before the conference-championship match is made.

There’s no consensus as to what Miami will do. Given that the program has never played in an ACC title game, some believe the school will see this opportunity as too prime to punt. Others believe that the Hurricanes, who figure to be very good next season, don’t want to find themselves in 2013 occupying the space Ohio State does now — having a team capable of playing in a BCS bowl but being hamstrung by a postseason ban.

Miami hasn’t been forced to declare: At 5-5, it’s not yet bowl-eligible. But we could see something like this: The Hurricanes beat South Florida on Saturday for their sixth win, Georgia Tech beats Duke and then, on Monday, Miami announces that will forgo postseason play, thereby ceding the Coastal title to Tech. How might the Jackets celebrate this bizarre achievement? By tearing down the goalposts in an empty Bobby Dodd Stadium before practice on Day 1 of Georgia Week?

On Sept. 29, Georgia Tech was beaten at home by a Sun Belt opponent. Today Georgia Tech faces the possibility of becoming the first team ever to lose to Middle Tennessee by 21 points and then play in the Orange Bowl. Crazy league. Crazy season.

By Mark Bradley

211 comments Add your comment

Geaux Jackets

November 12th, 2012
4:32 pm

Mark Bradley

November 12th, 2012
4:38 pm

Kudos, Geaux.

GTPhenom

November 12th, 2012
4:45 pm

Crazy indeed. I wouldn’t count the Jackets out of the UGA game just yet MB. It’ll be a tough game, but statistically, UGA compares rather favorably to UNC numbers wise. And the most significant win is over a UF team that is vastly overrated. Not saying we should even be close to favored, but I really get the feeling that the GT/UGA game will be a shootout ala 2008, and in that scenario, I think anything could happen. Good article by the way Bradley, keep up the good work.

Answer This

November 12th, 2012
4:46 pm

GTPhenom

November 12th, 2012
4:49 pm

Maybe sad, but it’ll be even sadder if this 6-5 Coastal Champion beats the esteemed SEC East Champs. Hey, at least we’ll get another matchup between the Coastal Champs and the East Champs . . . lol

Coach Z

November 12th, 2012
4:49 pm

To quote Paul Johnson, “That’s why we play the games.”

Tech Tower

November 12th, 2012
4:50 pm

Would be much better to beat uga……

GTPhenom

November 12th, 2012
4:51 pm

Very true Coach Z. There’s a reason fans shouldn’t have sailed ship so quickly . . .

Reebok

November 12th, 2012
4:51 pm

Just beat Duke and get bowl elgible. And then hope the Mark Richt is feeling charitable and doesn’t elect to hang 70 points on our ‘defense’ in Athens.

Coach Z

November 12th, 2012
4:55 pm

@GTPhenom – I find it very difficult, impossible to sail away from these Jackets. GT is like Cosa Nostra, they keep pulling you back in.

I get excited to see the Yellow Jackets happy!

not so fast

November 12th, 2012
4:56 pm

ok, now you are writing about the right sport at GT…yes this can happen

Gordon

November 12th, 2012
4:57 pm

Couldn’t UVA beat VT and Tech get in if Tech, UM, and UNC all win out? It doesn’t have to be BC to beat VT, it can be either BC or UVA.

Gordon

November 12th, 2012
5:00 pm

Never mind, you changed it.

GTPhenom

November 12th, 2012
5:01 pm

Coach Z, I’m a second year student here, but I’ve grown up a GT fan my entire life. These past two years have been my first chance to make games, and I haven’t missed out. Made all home games last year, and now I’ve made every home game this year + the road game against Clemson, and the road game against UNC. It’s great. I’ll support this team through thick and thin, regardless of the outcomes.

MalibuGT

November 12th, 2012
5:02 pm

Reebok, i couldn’t agree more. As soon as this team starts to get ahead of its, bad things happen. Duke will not be a pushover. They can score points in a hurry.

Gotta believe CPJ will start Vad on Saturday.

GOTTA BELIEVE

November 12th, 2012
5:02 pm

With Vad Lee, you are going to see a shootout in Athens, not what UGA was expecting whatsoever.

Coach Z

November 12th, 2012
5:10 pm

GTPhenom, you are lucky to be a student. I feel your allegence to the Jackets, both in heart and on merit. I feel like alumni or current students most stick with their school through thick and thin, like you do. But from an outsider looking in, like myself, being a Yellow Jacket fan is a choice and I’ve often asked myself why GT. Well, lets just say, it’s all about class!

I hope you are there when GT plays Duke, I was at Duke in 2009 to see the Yellow Jackets win and take to eating the oranges!

Nickj0321

November 12th, 2012
5:11 pm

Ill take it any way we can get it!

SansWorld

November 12th, 2012
5:13 pm

Last year a miserable 6-6 UCLA team went to the PAC12 Conf Championship in lieu of USC who was on probation. UCLA gets thumped by Oregon, then takes a losing record to face Illinois in the Irrelevant Bowl.
But who knows what can happen with this Tech team. At this I would not be that surprised if they win out. Certainly Duke, UGA and FSU have all played some poor games this year, and are capable losing on any given Saturday. That said, none of them have looked as bad as GT vs BYU or MTSU.

wes

November 12th, 2012
5:17 pm

The Coastal is a complete dumpster fire this year. Worst it’s ever been.

Having said that, you can’t help but be a little excited about getting another opportunity to go to our 2nd BCS game.

What a weird stinkin’ year.

gtne80

November 12th, 2012
5:22 pm

All of the above is true, but as a Tech fan, it’s the last thing that I want this team or even our fan base talking about at the moment. This team needs to be completely focused on this weekend’s game with Duke. Nothing else (football related) should matter to them right now, not the UGA game and certainly not the ACCCG or a bowl game.

In the last two weeks, this team has given up two touchdowns to a team that was starting a linebacker at QB and then given up 50 points to the next opponent. Duke isn’t awe-inspiring, but chances are their offense will be better than Maryland’s.

Habersham Dawg

November 12th, 2012
5:22 pm

If Georgia Tech gets to the ACC title game and wins it, then all I would have to say is, congratulations. A title is a title is a title. I’m actually pulling for your boys to pull off this unlikely championship. They deserve the feeling of hoisting a trophy, and winning any championship is difficult.

SansWorld

November 12th, 2012
5:27 pm

Thanks Habersham

it would be kind of funny to win the ACC ex DRad this year, seeing how his mis-managemet flitered it away from us in ‘09

CW

November 12th, 2012
5:31 pm

None of this matters if Tech doesn’t concentrate on the task at hand, beating Duke.

This is not the Duke of last year or any other year. They have a very good QB, very good receivers and will be a challenge for our defense.

Tech players, coaches and fans need to focus on the game this weekend before thinking about what could happen beyond Saturday.

If our offense plays as well as last week and our defense and special teams play with the same energy as last week, I think we’ll win.

That said, I thought our special teams play last week was maybe the best in the last two years. Tanner deserves a lot of credit for coming off the bench and converting all those PAT’s and both FG’s. We covered Bernard well on the punt, had solid returns on punts and returned a KO for a TD. Huge improvement over the keystone kops earlier in the season.

Habersham Dawg

November 12th, 2012
5:38 pm

It wouldn’t be funny, it’d be poetic justice, Tech winning the ACC just after he jumped ship mid-season.

Jackets81

November 12th, 2012
5:41 pm

With Vad under center, UGA will not know what hit them. Count on it.

SansWorld

November 12th, 2012
5:47 pm

..This is not the Duke of last year..

The Duke of last year came pretty darn close to beating the Jackets.

ignition

November 12th, 2012
5:47 pm

In No Way will GT beat UGA .. Matter of fact the game will not be close..
Sorry

Little late to the bandwagon...

November 12th, 2012
5:48 pm

…and these scenarios, aren’t you, oh KY Bluegrass scribe? Your counterpart Ken had all this covered LAST week…

Mark, can you tell us...

November 12th, 2012
5:51 pm

…why the Falcons should have gone for two yesterday?

BDK

November 12th, 2012
5:55 pm

@ GTphenom
How can you say Florida is a overated team? They have wins against South Carolina, LSU, and Texas A&M. Give UGA credit for beating them in what is essentialy a home game for Florida every year. Most years I would predict a close UGA-Tech game. Not this year. I would be shocked if UGA does not win by at least 17 points. Just enjoy these new possibilities of a chance to play in the ACC championship. Maybe Miami will bow out and concede the division.

Bobby Dodd Jr.

November 12th, 2012
5:56 pm

Yes Way ignition. Actually, it will be too close. Sorry

GT George

November 12th, 2012
5:57 pm

MalibuGT – Last home game. Washington will start. Senior Day I think.

Max Sizemore

November 12th, 2012
5:58 pm

I agree, Jackets81. UGA could be tested by the Vadman.

Name Changed to Avoid Moderation

November 12th, 2012
6:00 pm

Awwww…Ain’t that cute?

Tech fans talking on the blogs like they have a team and all!

See you between the hedges boys. Time for you to take your whippin’

Rick James

November 12th, 2012
6:01 pm

This is why under the current system the team winning the ACC championshp does not and should not get consideration for the national title game.

Jacket Time

November 12th, 2012
6:03 pm

Couldn’t agree more with the focus on beating Duke 1st mentality. This is no guarantee win. Have we forgotten MTSU already? Worry about UG when the time comes.

Jacket Time

November 12th, 2012
6:03 pm

10 of 11

November 12th, 2012
6:09 pm

Tech fans: Congrats on the UNC win. That was as good a game and win as you have had all season. However BYU and Middle Tennessee were equally as bad a loss. I just don’t understand after beating UNC how you all now think you can beat UGA?

The Maryland win shouldn’t be used as judgment because they played a linebacker at qb (their third in three games). You all think UGA fans jump on bandwagons?? This is unreal. UGA is heads and above better than Middle Tennessee and they beat you by 21 points at home.

Get a grip on reality.

Rick James

November 12th, 2012
6:12 pm

@Jackets81

With Vad under center, UGA will not know what hit them. Count on it.
——————————————————————————————-
You mean the way Tech didnt know what hit them when they played Middle Tennesee State? I know you’re jacked up after running up the scoreboard this weekend but you wont be playing North Carolina.You gave up 50 points and Georgia has one of the top offenses in the SEC.The chances of Tech giving up 50 against Georgia are much greater than them scoring 68..

Georgia Fan

November 12th, 2012
6:12 pm

Great article, Mark!! Yes, GT has a shot at the ACC CD championship and stranger things have happened.
I happen to be a UGA fan but pull for GT in the ACC games. I just wish that GT’s coach could somehow find a way to put together an effective defense. I mean, hey…if you’re going to run that type of offense then you’ll need to shut the other team down to make it work.
It can work but it requires very good athletes on both sides of the ball. That’s the point that GT’s coach just doesn’t get, cannot get or just doesn’t give a rip about; maybe an ego trip on his part.
Now let’s take a look at a team back in the 1990s that ran the triple option perfectly and had a fast, ferocious defense to lay waste to SEC teams such as Florida and Tennessee. Can you guess the team?

Jacket Man

November 12th, 2012
6:13 pm

Yeah, it would be funny if it turned out GA Tech ends up winning the Coastal and Clemson somehow ends up winning the Atlantic just as DRad gets there. Then it would be poetic justice for the Jackets to end up winning the ACCC to make up for the one they had ripped away from them by the NCAA due to DRad’s Administrative “issues”.

Just a couple of observations about the team. First, I think the defense grew up some the second half of the North Carolina game. We’ll see if it was just good adjustments by the coaching staff (which I’ll also take) or the lights came on and the guys on the defensive side of the ball finally started to get comfortable and attacked.

Secondly, if the Jacket offense can play with the same offensive “efficiency” they did against North Carolina, then all their defense will need to do is make a few stops a game and it will be golden. Having Vad Lee at QB means the corners and safeties have to respect the pass and aren’t able to provide as much run support without risking getting burned over the top for a long gain by a wide receiver or A-Back. They also can’t sit on the QB draw any more because Vad can actually pass when he drops back and not necessary have the planned run.

In other words, it’s a whole different offense with Vad Lee as QB than with Tevin Washington under Center. I might add that the whole team seems to have more “confidence” in Vad as well; Offense and Defense; he seems to be more of a natural leader than Tevin.

Thanks for all Tevin has done; he’ll always be a member of the Tech family and have a place in the record books, but it’s obvious that this is Vad Lee’s team now. Let Tevin start Saturday for Senior Day and give him a couple of reps, like he had against North Carolina; perhaps he’ll even break the TD record. Then, maybe even let him start his final game at UGA, but the bottom line is Vad’s the man now…

Pepper Rodgers

November 12th, 2012
6:17 pm

Bobby Dodd Jr.

November 12th, 2012
6:19 pm

Vad didn’t play in that game Rick James. You’re a Super Freak!

whatsthatsmell?

November 12th, 2012
6:25 pm

A vastly over rated team? UF, yea, they were overrated against top 10 teams LSU, S. Carolina and Texas A&M, only loss to #5 UGA , dude what are you on and I hope your not operating heavy machinery!

Ghost

November 12th, 2012
6:29 pm

Jacket81, I think you have that reversed,Vad will not know whats hit him when he plays in Athens. He’s never played against a defense with that much talent.There’s a world of difference between the UNC defense and the one he will face in Athens.

Bobo

November 12th, 2012
6:32 pm

Some Thoughts on This Possibility

1) As an ACC fan, how much further can we fall? No one can question that as a conference, we are in a sad, sad state. Right now, FSU and Clemson are our only ranked teams and the only ones that deserve to even be close. What in the world has happened to Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech, and for that matter, other traditionally decent teams like UNC?

2) We may be turning a corner with this team. Paul Johnson did what had to be done with Al Groh and he seems to learn his lesson, even if he’s too stubborn and too slow to do so. I truly believe he will bring in guys who can fix his incompetent recruiting ability. I think he’s a smart guy and he knows he isn’t affable or likable to many people, so he’s going to go get whoever he has to get to save his own butt. It would be great if that person could also coach defense.

3) Anything is possible the rest of the way. It would be just like UGA to get to this point and pick this game to choke and fold. After the year we have had, I think it goes without saying that GT would GLADLY piss in their cornflakes and ruin any chance at a BCS title that might still have.

It’s not like UGA has been the model of consistency in the Richt era either. Remember how you guys were going to fire him in 2011? Can I see GT stopping UGA? NO WAY. We will give up 40-50 points easy. However, I can also see a way that GT can score that many too. The only way we win is another of those 51-48 deals like we did about 10 years ago, and the odds are 5%, but they’re still there.

4) Brighter days appear to be ahead with Vad Lee. We may seriously have a poor man’s Joe Hamilton in waiting. His skills are clearly superior to Washington and he will make everyone around him better. I have no idea why Johnson waited this long. His arm is far superior to anything we’ve had since George Godsey. That 55 yard bomb in the 2nd half against Carolina wouldn’t have ever been completed by Washington, Nesbitt, Ball, or A.J. Suggs.

5) With that said, we MUST recruit about 10-15 legitimate 4 star players in the next year or two. Enough is enough. No more settling for guys who are also considering places like Duke, Middle Tennessee, or Georgia Southern. We are better than that.

Bill 2

November 12th, 2012
6:34 pm

Damn..how about that!

1 4 GT

November 12th, 2012
6:36 pm

NAME THIEF ALERT!!! The eralier post & any that may show up after this are the phony name thief. I could care less about MB’s happy hour habits.

dawg4u

November 12th, 2012
6:38 pm

Wow the Kennedy assasination and all the possible who-might have done it scenarios don’t hold a candle to the things that must happen for Tech to win the ACC Coastal as far as intrigue and mystery go. The ACC is better than Barnum and Bailey but is is definitely interesting. Good article, Mark although I had to read it twice to get it all down.