This is part eight of a 12 piece series examining all 12 ACC school’s 2012 schedule and making predictions based on returning players and incoming talent. Today we focus on two time Coastal Division champion Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets had a solid season in 2011. They finished in a tie for second in the Coastal Division with the Virginia Cavaliers. Quarterback Tevin Washington is entering his final season as the play caller for head coach Paul Johnson. Washington will be able to focus on football 100% in 2012 as he is graduating this summer.
Georgia Tech has only lost one real weapon on offense in wide receiver Stephen Hill. Hill caught 28 passes last season for 820 yards and five touchdowns. Hill is a loss because he added a fourth dimension to coach Johnson’s triple option. The triple option is hard to defend to begin with but it was almost impossible with Hill out wide. People should expect even more running from Georgia Tech this season.
The Yellow Jackets start the season on Labor Day with a game against rival Virginia Tech. The winner of this game has gone on to win the Coastal Division every year since division play was adopted by the ACC (in 2005). The Hokies hold the edge in that span with VT winning five to GT’s two. The Hokies lost a lot of offensive firepower after last season, but they still have Logan Thomas at the helm of the offense. The real story in this one will be the defense. Georgia Tech’s winning percentage when their opponent has over a week to prepare is abysmal. VT’s defensive coordinator Bud Foster has all summer. That and the fact that the game is in Blacksburg mean the Hokies will come out on top in the “Techmo” Bowl (predicted GT record 0-1).
Georgia Tech will then be visited by Presbyterian. This is simply a tune up game, a chance for that triple option to sharpen its teeth on a lesser opponent. This game won’t be close (GT record 1-1). The Jackets will then be visited by the Virginia Cavaliers in week 3. UVa was the first team to beat Georgia Tech last season (they started out 6-0), but that game was in Charlottesville. This is in Atlanta and the Wahoos have lost a lot of starters from last season (mostly on defense). This should be a close game, but the Yellow Jackets will avenge last season’s loss (GT record 2-1).
The Hurricanes will then make their way into Atlanta. Miami came out on top last season when these two met; the final score was 24-7. Miami is dealing with issues off the field and as of now it isn’t clear whether or not those will leak into play on the field. The U’s head coach Al Golden continues to bring in the country’s top talent, but that hasn’t led to much success for Miami over the past six years or so. This will be a close game, but Tech’s home field advantage will be the difference (GT record 3-1).
Tech will then leave conference play to take on Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders were terrible last season (they had a 2-10 record). This game will play out much like the Presbyterian one, a blow out in the Jackets favor (GT record 4-1). Georgia Tech then has a tough game at Clemson. Last season Tech was able to upset the then undefeated Tigers in Atlanta by a score of 31-17. Clemson will be better this year and this game is in Death Valley which gives the Tigers the edge (GT record 4-2).
The Jackets next game is against Boston College. The Eagles won’t be great this season. Georgia Tech’s triple option will just be too good for BC. Tech will win this one and it could be a blowout (GT record 5-2). Georgia Tech will then be visited by BYU. The Cougars were good last season; they finished with a 10-3 record and won the Armed Forces Bowl over Tulsa. BYU beat who they were supposed to but weren’t able to upset anyone. They lost against better teams like TCU, Texas and Utah. Georgia Tech is a better team with an unorthodox system on offense. That gives the Jackets a decided advantage (GT record 6-2).
Tech will finish its ACC schedule with three games in which they will be favored to win. It starts with a road game against Maryland. This was a close game last season, the score was 21-16, but Maryland just isn’t a good enough team to stay with the Jackets for an entire game (GT record 7-2). GT follows that with a trip to North Carolina. The Tar Heels won’t be dreadful this year but they are serving a bowl ban. The Jackets will need this game more in order to keep pace in the Coastal division race. Georgia Tech will win this game late (GT record 8-2).
The Yellow Jackets final home game and final ACC game in 2012 will come against the Duke Blue Devils. Georgia Tech is simply better then Duke and will outclass them on the field (GT record 9-2). Tech’s final game is against archrival Georgia . The Jackets haven’t taken home the Georgia State Governor’s Cup since 2008. This will be a tight game, but Georgia is one of the best teams in the SEC. It is hard to come up with a scenario in which Georgia Tech can win, especially since this game is in Athens (GT record 9-3).
Georgia Tech will finish the season with a 9-3 record and a 6-2 record in ACC play. That will be a good enough season to keep pressure on Virginia Tech for the Coastal Division title, but it won’t be enough to keep up with the Hokies.