The biggest games in series history
There's a lot on the line for both teams when No. 8 Georgia hosts No. 16 Georgia Tech on Saturday. Here's a look at five of the biggest games in the series known as Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate:
1927 — The first game in the series to garner national attention. Georgia came in with a perfect 9-0 record and expecting an invitation from the Rose Bowl. But, on a muddy field in Atlanta, Georgia Tech ruined the Bulldogs' season with a 12-0 upset.
1942 — In the middle of World War II, Georgia got its revenge for the loss 15 years earlier. Led by Heisman Trophy winner Frankie Sinkwich and future All-American Charlie Trippi, the Bulldogs routed unbeaten Georgia Tech 34-0 to earn a Rose Bowl bid. Georgia Tech freshman star Clint Castleberry, who was third in the Heisman balloting that year, played his only game in the series. He joined the Air Force and was killed in action in 1944.
1946 — With the war over, unbeaten Georgia romped to a 35-7 victory over once-beaten Georgia Tech to lock up a Sugar Bowl berth. The Bulldogs completed a perfect 11-0 season with a win over North Carolina but had to settle for No. 3 in the final rankings.
1948 — Georgia claimed the Southeastern Conference title and an Orange Bowl bid with a dominating 21-13 victory over the Yellow Jackets. In Miami, the Bulldogs were upset by Texas and finished 9-2.
1966 — In Bobby Dodd's final season as coach, Georgia Tech's perfect season was ruined by a 23-14 loss to Georgia. Kent Lawrence sparked the Bulldogs with a 71-yard punt return. Georgia Tech went on to lose to Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators in the Orange Bowl to close at 9-2. Georgia (10-1) knocked off SMU in the Cotton Bowl and ended with a No. 4 national ranking in a season remembered for national champion Notre Dame's 10-10 tie with Michigan State.
ATHENS — There's no need for any extra motivation when Georgia faces Georgia Tech.
These teams just don't like each other.
"It's a game you think about all year long," Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday.
Yet, in a change from previous meetings, there's a lot more on the line than merely state bragging rights.
Both teams are having seasons to remember, transforming what is often nothing more than a provincial showdown into a game taking its place alongside more prominent national rivalries such as Alabama-Auburn and Michigan-Ohio State.
In fact, Saturday's game between the hedges might be the most substantial for both teams in nearly a half-century.
No. 8 Georgia (9-2) hopes to land a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game and still has an outside shot at sneaking into college football's inaugural four-team playoff.
No. 16 Georgia Tech (9-2) has already locked up a berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game and is looking to strengthen its credentials for a major bowl, most likely the Orange.
The combined record of 18-4 is the best for the rivalry known as "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate" since a classic 1966 meeting, when Vince Dooley's Bulldogs (8-1) took a 23-14 victory to ruin a perfect season for Georgia Tech (9-0) in Bobby Dodd's final season as Yellow Jackets coach.
"Both teams are playing really well," Richt said. "You can show up 9-2 and having lost your last two games, or you can show up with a pretty good string of victories. I think both teams are in the process of that."
Indeed, Georgia comes in having won three in a row, most notably a 34-7 blowout of then-No. 9 Auburn. The Yellow Jackets are on a four-game winning streak, which includes a dominant 28-6 victory over then-No. 19 Clemson that helped lock up the ACC Coastal Division title.
"It's a huge game," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "Clearly, there are a lot of the fan bases that don't like each other. For us, it kind of adds a little bit, too, being ACC vs. SEC. We sit right here in the middle of the SEC. That's all we hear all the time."
The Bulldogs have controlled the series since the mid-1960s, winning 38 of the last 50 meetings. They've been especially dominant under Richt, taking 12 of 13.
Richt has no idea why he's had more success against the Yellow Jackets than any of Georgia's other rivals.
"We've had a bunch of very, very close games that we've been able to win," Richt said. "We do try to take every game serious around here. But this one, it's the end of the year. It's a rival game, It does get our blood pumping."
Last year's game was especially galling for Georgia Tech.
Playing at home, the Yellow Jackets raced to a 20-0 lead but couldn't hold on, even with the Bulldogs having to go with backup quarterback Hutson Mason in place of injured starter Aaron Murray. Georgia rallied to win 41-34 in double overtime.
"Every game you lose, it bothers you. Clearly that was an important game. Yeah, it lingers," Johnson said. "Maybe it stings more because it's them, but it would have bothered me regardless of who it was."
Georgia will be paying attention to another game Friday.
No. 17 Missouri can clinch the SEC East with a victory over Arkansas, which would deny the Bulldogs a spot in the Dec. 6 conference championship in Atlanta.
But, if the surging Razorbacks can pull off another victory over a ranked team (coming off impressive wins over LSU and Mississippi by a combined score of 47-0), then Georgia would take the division title no matter the outcome of its game against the Yellow Jackets.
Mason, a fifth-year senior who has made this team his own with Murray now in the NFL, figures the Bulldogs still have a shot at making the national playoff if Arkansas knocks off Mizzou.
Despite losses to South Carolina and Florida, the Bulldogs would surely get some consideration from the selection committee if they closed the season with victories over Georgia Tech and, in all likelihood, No. 2 Alabama in the SEC title game.
Under that scenario, either Georgia or Mississippi State would likely get the nod as SEC's representative to play for the national championship.
"I think it gives us a strong argument to be in the final four," Mason said. "But the reality of it is, if we don't take care of business Saturday, it won't happen."