Georgia Teams Clash

Atlanta, GAGeorgia Tech can earn its first trip to a BCS bowl with a victory in the ACC championship game.

Considering how it's fared at home against Georgia recently, though, it has something else to prove first.

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The seventh-ranked Yellow Jackets won a thriller in Athens last season to snap a seven-game skid in the series, and they'll look for their first home win over the Bulldogs in a decade as the area rivals meet Saturday night.

Oddsmakers from online sports book have made Georgia Tech -7.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Georgia Tech -7.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Georgia Tech (10-1) clinched the Coastal Division with a 49-10 win at Duke on Nov. 14. That set up a rematch of its 30-27 victory over Clemson on Sept. 10 next Saturday in Tampa for the right to represent the conference in the BCS.

Before the Yellow Jackets renew that series, which dates to 1898 and has been played 74 times, they will face their oldest rival. Georgia's Tech's history with Georgia (6-5) extends through 103 games back to 1893 and has been given the nickname "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate."

"I understand it's a big game," said coach Paul Johnson, whose Yellow Jackets ran over the Bulldogs for 409 yards last season in a 45-42 victory, their first in the series since 2000. "I'm not backing away from that, but what I'm trying to say is, it's not going to end our season if we win or lose the game. I'm not going to let one game define my football season when I have to play 13 games."

The Bulldogs were ranked in seven of the last eight matchups and four times in the top 10. The Yellow Jackets were ranked four times, but never higher than 16th.

This season, Georgia Tech is the ranked team with its eye on the BCS, while Georgia is not in the Top 25 entering the game for just the second time since the start of the 1996 season.

"When you get into a rivalry game, it's like anything," Johnson said. " Georgia has more to gain beating us then we do beating them. We're ranked, they're not. It's the complete opposite of last year and it will probably go back-and-forth."

The Yellow Jackets haven't beaten Georgia in Atlanta since a 51-48 win in 1999.

The Yellow Jackets rushed for 273.2 yards per game last year - fourth in the nation - in their first season running Johnson's triple-option offense. They have topped that this year with 314.1 yards a contest behind the nation's top rushing trio.

Quarterback Josh Nesbitt and tailbacks Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen have run for 2,600 yards, more than 115 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Nesbitt had a season-low nine carries for 30 yards against the Blue Devils, but threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns.

He completed one pass for 19 yards and was held to 40 on the ground in the victory over Georgia last season, but faced a Bulldogs defense that ranked 22nd in the nation at 312.0 yards allowed per game.

Georgia has allowed an average of 354.6 yards against FBS opponents this season and forced eight turnovers in 11 games - fewest in the nation.

Almost as bad is the Bulldogs' tendency to give the ball away. They are tied for 11th in the country with 26 giveaways, leaving them 119th in turnover margin at minus-18.

Georgia turned it over four times last Saturday against Kentucky in a 34-27 loss, its first to the Wildcats since 1977.

The Bulldogs are also fourth in the nation with 94 penalties.

"Turnovers have never been like this, and that's really the thing that did us in (against Kentucky)," coach Mark Richt said. "The penalties are not good, and definitely it's been frustrating, no doubt."

Georgia leading receiver A.J. Green, second in the SEC at 83.4 yards per game, sat out last week with a sprained shoulder and is doubtful for Saturday. He had four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown against Georgia Tech last season.

Even if Green can play Saturday, he won't be the most accomplished receiver on the field. Georgia Tech junior Demaryius Thomas has 950 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and his 24.4 yards per catch are tied for first in the nation.

Nesbitt averages 11.3 yards per throw to place second behind Cincinnati's Zach Collaros, though neither has enough attempts to qualify among the national leaders.

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Posted: 11/24/09 7:47PM ET

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