Both were picked to win their divisions. Both were ranked in the preseason Associated Press poll: Georgia was No. 9, Georgia Tech No. 16. On Sept. 19, the Jackets were favored at Notre Dame even though the Irish were higher-ranked. On Oct. 3, Georgia was favored against Alabama, which hadn’t been an underdog since the 2009 SEC championship game. But look now.
Georgia is 5-3 and out of contention for the SEC East title, having twice lost as a favorite. Tech is 3-6 and out of contention for the ACC Coastal title, having lost — whoa, Nellie — five times while favored. Neither is ranked. Both teams have had major injuries. One team (not Georgia) has scored a famous victory. Neither, however, has had the season it was supposed to add. And so we ask: Which has been the bigger dud?
Tougher schedule: Georgia has played two of the teams ranked in College Football Playoff committee’s top 10. Trouble is, not one of the Bulldogs’ five victories has come against an opponent worth a fig. The combined conference record of Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Missouri — the three SEC opponents Georgia has beaten — is 3-12. (Vandy beat Mizzou, which beat South Carolina, which beat Vandy.)
Tech’s schedule looked tough but has been much more arduous than that. The Jackets have played three teams ranked by the CFP, two in the top five. They’ve also played the three teams heading the Coastal — North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Duke — the combined ACC record of which is 11-2. And Duke’s “loss” to Miami bears a big fat asterisk. No question here. Georgia has had much the easier road.
Best win: No doubt here, either. Tech over Florida State, though it was fluky. Tech has one good win. Georgia has no good wins.
Worst loss: Lots of doubt here, simply because there have been so many. Georgia lost by 28 points to Alabama after trailing by 35. It lost to Tennessee after leading by 21. It lost to Florida 27-3.
Tech blew a 21-point lead against North Carolina and was routed at Notre Dame and Clemson. (Though the Jackets did make those games look closer than they were with cosmetic surges. Tech trailed Notre Dame 30-7 after 59 minutes but closed within 30-22; Tech trailed Clemson 40-10 but lost 43-24.) But the biggest blotch on either ledger came on Halloween, and it wasn’t — believe it or not — Georgia looking wretched in Jacksonville. That same day, Tech lost at Virginia. ‘Nuff said.
Lousier coaching: Two-way tie for last here. Though Georgia does have better players. Still, Tech lost to Virginia.
Bigger constituent disgruntlement: Tech fans don’t like what has happened, but Tech beat Georgia and won a major bowl last season. That goes a ways toward masking the pain. Georgia hasn’t won a major bowl since New Year’s night 2008. Georgia’s fans are beyond disgruntled, and they have cause. They take this lumpy cake.
Worse offense: Here’s my favorite bar-bet question — not that I bet or, for that matter, frequent bars — of the millennium. What two Georgia-based FBS schools have the best offenses? The answers are Georgia Southern (No. 36 nationally in yardage) and Georgia State (No. 45).
Georgia ranks 67th. (Dawg Nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Mike Bobo.) Tech ranks 68th. (Remind Paul Johnson of that the next time he rips his defense. Which is 49th nationally, FYI.) Both are terrible on offense. Tech’s offense is one spot worse with a quarterback who was mentioned in preseason as a Heisman candidate. Disadvantage, Tech.
Worst choice: Faton Bauta, starting quarterback.
Adding it up, which is the bigger dud? I say Tech. There’s a difference between having a disappointing season and a losing one, which the Jackets will unless they beat Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia. And there’s never a reason to lose to Virginia.
So why aren’t you calling for Johnson and Tech to part? Because he won a major bowl last season. Georgia last won a major bowl since … oops, said that already. And these aren’t apples-to-apples jobs. Georgia has more talent and more resources than Tech. Georgia is one of the five best coaching jobs in the country; Tech is one of the five best coaching jobs in the state.
Final question: Who wins Nov. 28? Georgia, by the score of 3-2.
Further reading: I’m sorry, but Georgia and Richt need to part.