Friday November 19, 2004
Technique - The South's Liveliest College NewspaperSports

For Tech fans, victory against UGA means far more than ordinary win

By Charles Frey / Student Publications

Tech only plays Georgia in football one Saturday each year, but the result of the game is not quickly forgotten by either side.

By Clark Nelson Staff Writer

Next Saturday, Tech will play its final game of the regular season against bitter rival Georgia. To many fans and alumni, this game is the most important of the season. The two teams played for the first time in 1893, a 28-6 Tech win, and have played every year since 1925. The win in 1893 was the first ever for Tech.

Though Tech now plays in the ACC, the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs squared off many times as conference foes in the SEC. Between the two schools are 18 conference titles and four national championships. Both schools are two of only a handful to play in the Sugar, Cotton, Orange and Rose Bowls.

Tech and UGA have played in a combined 71 bowl games, have a total of 42 victories in those games and hold two of the highest all-time bowl winning percentages. More recently Tech and Georgia have both been bowl-eligible for each of the last eight seasons.

Other than having historically successful football programs, this game is so important because of other similarities between the two. Tech and Georgia fans are neighbors, friends, co-workers, spouses and for a couple of times each year, sworn enemies.

Being in the same state, the two schools compete for a lot of the same high school football recruits each year. Some players decide they like Tech better, some prefer UGA.

Growing up in the state of Georgia, many kids decide early on whom they want to root for. I grew up in Georgia, but never rooted either for Tech or UGA. Once I got on campus, I knew right away how important this rivalry was.

My first taste of the fever-pitched atmosphere of this game was in 1999—a game that turned out to be the highest scoring contest ever between the two teams. After going back and forth all day, Georgia looked as if it would score the winning touchdown as time ran down, but a fumble on the goal line saved the day for Tech.

The Yellow Jackets kicked a field goal in overtime to win the game, and Grant Field was flooded with students and fans. Ripping Georgia’s heart out felt extremely good.

The win became bragging rights for a whole year. Tech alumni could go back to and tell all of their Georgia co-workers (or employees for that matter) about the game. You could call your high school friends who were in Athens and ask “How ‘bout them Dawgs?”

Tech went on to win the next year, while Georgia has won three straight in the series. Either way, the winning side has a year of bragging rights.

“Every Tech fan has to work or interact with UGA fans, and there is nothing better than to be able to smirk at the UGA fans after a [Tech] win. It’s 364 days of bliss,” said former Tech student Will Jennings.

A main reason for all the hatred is the amount of respect between the schools. Any Tech fan will tell you that UGA is its biggest rival.

Tech fans may feel some UGA fans do not respect Tech as their main rival. UGA fans will often mention Florida, Tennessee or possibly Auburn before getting to Tech when listing their biggest rivals. From my experiences, UGA fans feel lucky to break even against many SEC rivals, but expect to beat Tech.

The last Georgia coach who lost three in a row to Tech was out of a job the next football season. The last three seasons UGA has had a trio of its best teams of the last 20 years, a big reason for a three-game winning streak in the series.

Many Tech fans I know, myself included, are tired of hearing about how great of a player David Pollack is or how hard safety Thomas Davis hits.

Maybe I am biased, but I would like to hear some talk of how good of a wide receiver Tech has in Calvin Johnson.

I’d like to hear how Tech has three capable running backs that can hurt you in different ways or how Tech’s defensive line is just as good as the “unrelenting” defensive line of the Bulldogs.

This rivalry comes down to respect and bragging rights. Telling all of your UGA friends how much of a better school Tech is gets old after a while.

The Yellow Jackets need a strong performance against Virginia this weekend to build on their regained confidence from victories over N.C. State and Connecticut.

UGA will have a week off to recover from a 24-6 thrashing at the hands of national title contender Auburn.

Whatever the outcome, both teams will likely be going to bowl games at the end of the season. However, this will be my last Tech-Georgia game as a student at the Institute, and I cannot imagine a better send off from Tech than beating Georgia on their home field.