No. 4 Georgia can’t overlook rival Georgia Tech

NCAA Football
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The fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs have bigger goals on their agenda this season, but the biggest one can’t be achieved unless they first dispatch Georgia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta.

The Bulldogs enter the game against their in-state rival as a four-touchdown favorite. Georgia (10-1) has easily won the past two meetings since Georgia Tech (3-8) stunned the Bulldogs in Athens in 2016. Georgia has won nine straight games in Atlanta.

But Georgia can’t afford a letdown prior to its appearance in the Southeastern Conference championship game against LSU. While a loss to Georgia Tech wouldn’t keep the Bulldogs out of the conference title game, it would doom any hopes for an appearance in the College Football Playoff.

“We have a mature team, and we said the other day that the most important step is the next step,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Georgia Tech is the next step, and they’ve got a football team that’s peaking at the right time. … (They) played a really good game Thursday night (against North Carolina State), so we’ve got to go out and play a good football game.”

Statistically, there is no comparison between the two teams. Georgia’s dominance over the first 11 games of the season is obvious.

Georgia averages 31.2 points, compared to just 17.5 points for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have not scored 30 points in a game all season.

The stingy Georgia defense allows 10.7 points per game, compared to 30.6 points for Georgia Tech.

Georgia averages 413.4 yards in total offense, 198.3 on the ground and 215.1 through the air. Georgia Tech averages 299.7, with 157.3 yards rushing and 142.5 passing.

The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Jake Fromm. The junior has completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 2,131 yards and 17 touchdowns. Fromm is 33-6 as a starter, including two wins over Georgia Tech, and he threw four touchdown passes against Yellow Jackets last season.

Georgia’s deep running game centers around D’Andre Swift, who has surpassed 1,000 yards for two straight seasons. Swift has 1,130 yards and seven touchdowns. Brian Herrien (420 yards) and Zamir White (281 yards) have had highlight moments this year, too.

If Georgia has a weakness, it has been the inability to develop a go-to receiver. Lawrence Cager (33 catches) has been their best, but he has been injured and limited to six starts.

Georgia Tech settled on redshirt freshman quarterback James Graham as its starter in the fourth game, and he has been inconsistent. Graham’s up-and-down season included a win at Miami, a poor showing against Pitt, a strong effort in a loss to Virginia and a horrible game against Virginia Tech. Last week, he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in a 28-26 victory over NC State and was named ACC co-Rookie of the Week.

The Georgia Tech running game features sophomore Jordan Mason, who has 862 yards and seven touchdowns. He runs behind a makeshift line that includes a walk-on and will be challenged by a Georgia run defense that allows only 68.5 yards per game (No. 2 in the nation) and did not allow a rushing touchdown through its first nine games.

“I’m looking forward to this week because it’s going to be a battle,” said Georgia Tech linebacker David Curry, one of four permanent team captains.

–Field Level Media

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