Georgia Tech simply became one of the very best teams in the land

“So are you still not impressed?” (Lynne Sladky/AP photo)

"So are you still not impressed?" (Lynne Sladky/AP photo)

“So are you still not impressed?” (Lynne Sladky/AP photo)

On Aug. 30, this correspondent watched Georgia Tech beat Wofford, which isn’t an FBS team, by 19 points. I’d love to tell you I knew then that the Yellow Jackets would, on the night of Dec. 31, beat Mississippi State, which plays in the presumably impregnable SEC, by 15 points in the Orange Bowl. But I’d be lying.

On Aug. 30, Tech appeared — to me, if no one else — essentially the same as it’d been since Chan Gailey’s holdovers left for the NFL. Justin Thomas did throw the ball pretty well, but the Jackets didn’t exactly knock the Terriers, who would finish 6-5 in the Southern Conference, backward.

Come Nov. 29 in Sanford Stadium, the same Georgia Tech knocked Georgia backward. Come Dec. 31 in Miami Gardens, the same Georgia Tech — the same but different — knocked Mississippi State backward. The team that didn’t look to be much more talented than Wofford was clearly superior to two of the better teams in The Only Conference That Matters.

Over its final four games, Tech beat Clemson by 22 points, and the Tigers would beat Oklahoma by 34 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Jackets beat Georgia in overtime, and the Bulldogs would beat Louisville by 23 in the Belk Bowl. Tech played Florida State, which nobody has beaten since Nov. 24, 2012, to the wire in Charlotte, and New Year’s Eve brought the total destruction of Mississippi State, which for five weeks was adjudged the nation’s No. 1 team.

The point being: Beyond the four teams in the College Football Playoff and TCU, who was playing better than the Jackets at year’s end? Who would have believed that Georgia Tech, which went 28-25 over the four seasons before this, could make a legitimate claim to being one of the nation’s best half-dozen teams? (Baylor would be in the conversation for No. 6, but you get the idea.)

I didn’t see this coming, not even after Tech went to Blacksburg and won for the first time since 2006. But the defense got better as it went, and Paul Johnson’s stylized offense got as good as it has ever been at Tech, and this time there was no asterisk — “He’s only doing it with Gailey’s players” — to attach. These were all Johnson’s recruits. This was all his doing. As splendid as the Tech teams of 2008 and 2009 were, this was his best.

As Tech was flattening Mississippi State, Twitter was dotted with proclamations that the Bulldogs’ performance was “embarrassing for the SEC.” (Granted, the state of Mississippi had a rotten day.) That missed the point that had been should have been made these past six weeks. There should have been no embarrassment in losing to Georgia Tech.

Because those players who didn’t impress against Wofford coalesced into a functioning and dominating whole. Because this became one the best teams in the country. Because Georgia Tech would have been very good in any league.

Reader Comments 1

429 comments
Pistol66
Pistol66

Please don't forget how young this team is, playing 18 freshmen and sophomores! Coach Johnson has this team on the rise as uga declines! Should have beat them two years in a row! Very good recruiting class should provide depth needed to play with anyone! FSU -TECH GAME NEXT SEASON SHOULD HAVE NATIONAL IMPLICATIONS! GO JACKETS and THWG!

davidg32
davidg32

Have to admit one thing, Mark:  If I had known ahead of time that Dak Prescott would throw for 450+ yards and 3 TD's...and run for another 50 yards and yet another TD...I would have bet every nickel I could have gotten my hands on that Mississippi State would just steamroll over Tech.


Instead, Georgia Tech beat MSU in a game where their best player had one of his best games ever.  You have to tip your hat to the Jackets on this one. 

Bill Dillard
Bill Dillard

Georgia Tech matured into an excellent football team over the course of the season.

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

"There should have been no embarrassment in losing to Georgia Tech."


What about losing to Duke and North Carolina (back to back) in the middle of the season?

58Supersports
58Supersports

All SEC teams had bad week except UGA ...love the GT win!

Bama  blew it with turns. Ohio looked good.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Bama blows a 21 to 6 lead .Bama QB throwing pick sixes and getting run over by the Buckeyes.Urban out coached Saint Nick and Kiffin. Finebaum's show should be hilarious for the next few days, all those Bammers wanting to tar and feather poor Lame Kiffin.

TampGator1
TampGator1

Hey DawgNole.......exactly what did you say about my post earlier?  And congrats on that Rose Bowl win today......oh.....I meant......so sorry.  And what a classy team FSU is....NOT.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1

Actually, I said good call on that one.

Again, nobody with a fla heritage has room to fling crap bombs about lack of class.

Defining hypocrisy--again.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH_IO

What rock have you been hiding under? 

Question # 2 Will Lane Kiffin be blamed and fired for his play calling tonight?

Question #3 Who will be the favorite on Jan.12 Ducks or Bucks?

TampGator1
TampGator1

@OH_IO 


Congrats on the win. I posted that Ohio State had a great chance to win at the beginning of the game and not surprisingly DawgNole jumped all over me.   Well, enough said.  I was actually pulling for the Buck Eyed Peas.  Not sure how you guys will fair vs. Oregon, however.  They looked outstanding.  But FSU was very overrated this year.  TCU should have been in over them.  


TampGator1
TampGator1

@OH_IO 


And it looks like the SEC East is saving the SEC this year.  Every SEC West team has lost except Arky.  East undefeated with the Vols and Gators left to play.  But no doubt the SEC has been very overrated this year.  But the league is very young, as is OSU.  But I am very happy that FSU and Bama lost.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1 @OH_IO

Jumped all over you?!

You're just a born liar--through and through--aren't you? Here (below) is the post in which you claim I "jumped all over you." It was 21-6 Bama when I posted. And I followed that up this morning by posting "good call on that one." Stop lying.

Now go back to your classless gloating about a team that's beaten yours 4 of the past 5 years.

But first, stop dodging my question: Are you going to Birmingham to support your team Saturday--after calling out GT and ATL fans for their perceived lack of support? Hello?

Let's show the folks again what a hypocrite you are.

_____________________

DawgNole 2 hours ago

Very good chance?

Ohio State's getting smacked around--albeit not as badly as FSU--and looks like they're already out of it.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH_IO

Yeah, how did y'all win that game last night?

Great job by your guys bouncing back from that 21-6 deficit. They could've rolled over at that point, but instead showed their stuff.

Any thoughts on next week? Obviously we'll find out who's for real.


grh0317
grh0317

Great to be a Jacket fan! Let's win it all next year! Go Jackets!

Guyon
Guyon

SEC, SEC, SEC.  Miss St, Miss, Auburn and LSU from SEC West all lose. WOW!                                                                                                      

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Looks like the Buckeyes may be pretenders ,just like the Seminoles turned out to be.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@9014EAEO @Buschleaguer

No, I was just trying to Buzz OH-IO's tower ,to see if he was on this blog,since the AJC is too cheap to have an on site live blog at the Sugar Bowl.Hope the Buckeyes can actually give the Tide a good game tonight.

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

OK. the real games have begun. Let's forget about the money grab bowl games and enjoy elite level college football now. The other bowl games have no meaning....just brats and beer.

TampGator1
TampGator1

After watching the SEC West playing in bowl games.....other than Arky.......I am now giving OSU a very good chance of beating Bama. Satan vs. The Liar.   Maybe both can lose the game somehow.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1

Very good chance?

Ohio State's getting smacked around--albeit not as badly as FSU--and looks like they're already out of it.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@DawgNole 


Early third quarter and OSU is dominating both sides of the ball and leading 27 to 21. Yes, a good chance......oh great proofreader.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@green_jacket 


DawgNole stalks me and foams at the mouth while doing so, tossing all reasoning skills and sense of decency out of the window in the process.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1 @DawgNole

Good call on that one as it turns out.

Did you also predict that your basketball player would tip in a rebound to give FSU a victory?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1 @green_jacket

Says the hypocrite who can do no better than post "FU" repeatedly when he's been exposed yet again on a blog.

And you want to talk about class?

You still dodging my question about whether or not you'll be in Birmingham for that monumental bowl game Saturday--after hypocritically taking GT and ATL fans to task for their team support?

Well?


5150POAD
5150POAD

FSU leaving the field like crybabies and not shaking hands is why most ACC fans don't claim or want anything to do with the NOLES.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@9014EAEO 


Nor Gators. The actions of the FSU players at the end of the game with the exception of Winston, amazingly, were classless and predictable.   And after trash talking the Ducks all week as well.  It is Free Shellfish U. after all.   

DawgNole
DawgNole

@9014EAEO

Must've been everybody but Fisher and Winston, who were shown mingling with the Oregon players and offering congrats.

5150POAD
5150POAD

@DawgNole Herbstreit said it and they showed the tunnel about 70-80% of the FSU player left the field and didn't shake hands. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

@DawgNole 


When has FSU ever known how to act, win or lose? FSU might be the least respected football program in the country and they reinforced that image tonight  I hope a lot of recruits were watching tonight.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1 @9014EAEO

Do you have a link to that week-long trash-talking?

Or is that just you trash-talking again?

And your classless gloating rings pretty hollow coming from a fan of a school legendary for its misdeeds.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@9014EAEO @DawgNole

You said "FSU leaving the field"--as if it were ALL of them.

Shame on those who did so w/o shaking hands.

Guess they didn't know how to act after a loss. It's been awhile.

TampGator1
TampGator1

Man......I am one very happy Gator tonight. Crime...'n.....Noles...... does not pay.  Go Ducks.   59 t0 20 and it could have been a lot worse.  Obvious that FSU was not one of the top four teams before this game.  TCU should have been there instead.     

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1

Of course, you wait until AFTER they get drilled to proclaim that FSU was not one of the top four teams BEFORE the game--as if you knew it all along. Typical.

Had you said that BEFORE the game, your classless crowing might have some semblance of validity.

As far as the game itself, FSU obviously had NO answer for Oregon's offense--and was further undone by its mind-numbing landslide of turnovers.

green_jacket
green_jacket

@DawgNole @SoWhat_70 @Dirtyb8 I think he is referring to the SEC west which is 1-4 in bowl games, not the SEC.  Ironically, the east seems to be carrying the SEC after being labeled the weak sister all year.

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

Year end results for Georgia teams:

1. Georgia Tech

2. Georgia Southern

3. UGA

4. Georgia State

End of story

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

@lvg GT was 1 late fumble away from looking up at Georgia Southern.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@BillEidson @Maggot_Man @lvg

Actually it was a overturned non fumble call that became a fumble;A call  made by a ACC replay official that gave the ball to the Jackets. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@9014EAEO @Buschleaguer

Ga. Southern and Tech . In the play in question with Southern driving deep in Tech territory. Southern ran a play that was originally called an incomplete pass by the officials on the field ,but the replay official overturned the call and said it was a lateral recovered by Tech. Tech then went on to drive for the winning touchdown.

5150POAD
5150POAD

@Buschleaguer I thought it was pretty clear it was a fumble. I have it on DVR and still looks like a fumble to me.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@9014EAEO @Buschleaguer

Not arguing about the call ,It was a bad play by the Eagles  freshman QB .He just should have taken the loss on the play instead of trying to force the pitch.

@eidsonb
@eidsonb

@Buschleaguer @9014EAEO  If we stop the 4th and 25 in Duke....if we don't have the Procedure penalty against UNC and have to kick the FG.  The point is moot.

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  1. […] the end of last season, Tech was one of the half-dozen best teams in college football. I’m not sure it can be quite that good again. I’m not sure a defense that lived off […]