ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude had a surprising answer Tuesday when asked for his historical perspective on No. 1 Georgia’s defensive front, led by Jordan Davis.
“Maybe like the Rams, the Steelers,” Patenaude said.
To be sure, no Georgia coach has used NFL measuring sticks for Georgia Tech’s talent this week as the teams prepare for Saturday’s game for state bragging rights.
With Georgia coach Kirby Smart chasing a national championship in his sixth season and Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins finishing with another losing record in his third year, the gap between the programs seems wider than ever.
Georgia (11-0) is the unanimous No. 1 team in The AP Top 25 poll for the seventh consecutive week. The Bulldogs, also No. 1 in the College Football Playoff ranking, will take a 15-game winning streak, the longest active streak among FBS teams, into the game at Georgia Tech.
Georgia has won the last three games and nine of the last 11 in the rivalry. The teams didn’t play last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After last week’s ugly 55-0 loss at No. 6 Notre Dame, Georgia Tech (3-8) takes a five-game losing streak into its final regular-season game.
The Yellow Jackets are 35 1/2 point underdogs, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and will need a major upset to avoid their third consecutive three-win season under Collins.
Georgia Tech was 3-3 following a 31-27 win at Duke on Oct. 9 before starting its losing streak. Last week’s lopsided loss to Notre Dame disrupted Collins’ ability to point to other close losses as evidence of progress.
Collins opened his weekly news conference Friday by acknowledging “possible fan frustration, donors, boosters, all those things.”
“I get it,” Collins said. “I understand it. I’m frustrated. I’m as big of a competitor as there is in the game and so I’m frustrated. Even though we’ve made progress, it still hasn’t shown up in the win column, where we want it to be, where we need it to be and where it will be.”
A season-ending win over Georgia would be Collins’ best proof of progress.
Even in a state rivalry game, Georgia’s biggest danger on Saturday might be looking ahead to its Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 3 Alabama on Dec. 4 in Atlanta. Thus far, Georgia has avoided any missteps when heavily favored, including in last week’s 56-7 rout of Charleston Southern.
“That doesn’t concern me,” Smart said. “Our guys are very mature and handle things very well. It was awesome at the game the other day to come out and approach this thing with a ‘will not be denied’ attitude. We’re going out to play our best game. That’s out goal — play our best game of the season.”
Davis, the 6-foot-6, 340-pound defensive tackle, ran for a touchdown out of the Bulldogs’ jumbo formation against Charleston Southern.
Davis is one of many standouts on Georgia’s defense, which leads the nation with only 7.5 points allowed per game. Georgia Tech has allowed 32.5 points per game to rank 106th in the nation.
Collins said Sunday will be an important day to “evaluate everything and what steps do we need to take to make sure we’re progressing.”
Asked about his evaluation of his coordinators, Pattenaude and defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker, Collins said “That’s a conversation that we’ll continue to have.”