In the poll for the first time this season, the No. 21 Yellow Jackets look to avoid being the second straight ranked team to fall to the surging Cavaliers when the ACC rivals meet Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Georgia Tech –11.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 55% of bets for this game have been placed on Georgia Tech –11.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
After a stumbling start, Virginia (4-3, 2-1) has become a factor in the ACC. The Cavaliers have won three straight, including a dramatic 16-13 overtime win over then-No. 18 North Carolina last Saturday.
That result dropped the Tar Heels out of the poll, and Georgia Tech (6-1, 3-1) moved into it for the first time since it was 2-0 last season. The Yellow Jackets beat Clemson 21-17 last Saturday, and jumped into the Top 25 the following day.
After being unranked all season, Georgia Tech is now the highest-ranked ACC team in the poll. Florida State, at No. 23, is the only other ranked ACC team.
"The kids have shown some toughness and character," said Georgia Tech's first-year coach, Paul Johnson. "It makes you proud."
Demaryius Thomas caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Josh Nesbitt with 5:22 to go against the Tigers, lifting the Yellow Jackets to their fourth straight victory. Nesbitt, who also ran for a 5-yard score just before halftime, had 77 yards rushing to push his season total to 442.
Georgia Tech also got another strong game from Jonathan Dwyer, who ran for 109 yards. It was the fifth time he has gone over the 100-yard mark and gave him 706 yards and four TDs on the season.
Dwyer ran for 75 yards and a TD versus Virginia last season, but Georgia Tech lost 28-23 on Sept. 22, 2007.
The Yellow Jackets gave up 354 yards in that game, but have surrendered more than 300 only once this season. They allowed 407 yards in a 38-7 win over Mississippi State on Sept. 20.
Georgia Tech's defense ranks in the top 10 in the country in eight categories, and leads the nation in tackles for loss with 9.0 per game. The Yellow Jackets rank fifth in the nation in scoring defense at 11.6 points allowed a contest.
Defense has also been the Cavaliers' strength, as they've shut out two teams this season and held a strong North Carolina offense to 10 points in regulation.
Clint Sintim is the leader of that formidable Virginia defense, topping the ACC with eight sacks. He's had at least one sack in four straight games.
"This defense never quits," the senior linebacker said. "The resiliency on this team is undying."
Jon Copper was named the ACC's defensive lineman of the week after recording a career-high 16 tackles against North Carolina. He made 10 solo tackles, and had one for a loss.
The Cavaliers offense was held to 275 yards against the Tar Heels, but averaged 33.0 points and 428.5 yards in the previous two contests. Virginia has outscored its last three opponents by a combined 82-33.
"Every team throughout the course of the year has to find its identity," Cavaliers coach Al Groh said. "We clearly think over the last three weeks we're starting to find our identity, which is a tough-minded, stick-together, purposeful team with a lot of resolve. There's a lot of trust and unity on the team."
Virginia found a way to score when it needed to most against North Carolina. Trailing 10-3 with 2:18 to play, quarterback Marc Verica led the Cavaliers on an 82-yard scoring drive that sent the game into overtime before Dedric Peerman ran in from 2 yards out for the win.
Peerman has rushed for two TDs in each of his last two games. He ran for 138 yards and a TD in last season's matchup with Georgia Tech.
Virginia leads the all-time series 15-14-1.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
VIRGINIA is 10-5 against the spread versus GEORGIA TECH since 1992
VIRGINIA is 11-5 straight up against GEORGIA TECH since 1992
7 of 12 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
VIRGINIA is 1-0 against the spread versus GEORGIA TECH over the last 3 seasons
GEORGIA TECH is 1-1 straight up against VIRGINIA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at GEORGIA TECH since 1992
GEORGIA TECH is 4-3 against the spread versus VIRGINIA since 1992
GEORGIA TECH is 5-3 straight up against VIRGINIA since 1992
6 of 7 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at GEORGIA TECH over the last 3 seasons.
GEORGIA TECH is 0-0 against the spread versus VIRGINIA over the last 3 seasons
GEORGIA TECH is 1-0 straight up against VIRGINIA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[RB] Keith Payne missed last game %27?%27 - Hand - 10/04/08
(!) [QB] Peter Lalich has been dismissed from team - Legal problems - 09/1
[TE] Joe Torchia missed last game %27?%27 - Shoulder - 10/04/08
[OG] Zak Stair missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/04/08
[DE] Sean Gottschalk is out indefinitely - Undisclosed - 09/28/08
[LB] John Bivens has left the team - None - 09/28/08
[S] Matt Leemhuis missed last game %27?%27 - Thumb - 10/04/08
[CB] Jerrard Tarrant has been suspended from the team. - Suspension - 07/0
[WR] Andrew Smith missed last game %27?%27 - Shoulder - 10/04/08
[OL] AJ Smith missed last game %27?%27 - Elbow - 10/04/08
[CB] Martin Frierson missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/04/08
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Posted: 10/21/08 1:30 PM