Don’t think this isn’t big.
Georgia versus Tech.
With both teams en route to their respective conference championship games.
It’s the matchup eagerly anticipated since the ACC launched its conference championship game in 2005. Here was something that partisans of both Tech and Georgia could agree upon. The two old rivals squaring off the week before playing for their conference championships would surely be a boon to both schools.
You’d wind up with a game so big, so hyped, that most of the top high school talent in the state would collectively proclaim, "I want to play in that game some day!"
Well, here we are, but it’s not quite like we envisioned it. Which means that it fits in nicely with the rest of this college football season.
Tech’s invitation to face Florida State for the ACC championship on Dec.1 came not on the field of play, but through a press conference.
Monday morning, Blake James, the interim athletic director at the University of Miami, announced that the Hurricanes would self-impose a postseason ban for the second straight season.
Ironically, Tech itself just became bowl eligible on Saturday. The Jackets pushed their record to 6-5 with a 42-24 win over Duke. That left Tech tied with Miami and North Carolina for the top spot in the Coastal Division, with three conference losses each. Carolina had previously forfeited its postseason rights.
Not really the way we envisioned Tech steamrolling into the championship game.
But this isn’t the same Tech team that lost to Middle Tennessee State and Brigham Young, either.
They’ve won three straight, and their offense is hitting on all cylinders. Regardless of who’s at quarterback.
Tech’s even outscoring its defense, a unit which remains a recruiting tool. High school players watching Tech’s defense in action doubtless marvel, "I could play for them right away!"
Meanwhile, across the state, Georgia sits at 10-1, ranked third in the nation.
Numbers we envisioned in our "conference championship game participants" scenario.
But Georgia has taken things a step further.
Suddenly, the Tech game isn’t an end unto itself. Thanks to the wild goings on last Saturday night, the Tech game for Georgia has now become a means to an end, step one en route to the national championship game. And Georgia controls its own destiny.
During coach Mark Richt’s weekly teleconference on Sunday, all the scribes wanted to discuss was the BCS, and the Dogs now very real chance to play for the crystal football on January 7.
In keeping with Georgia’s "one step at a time" approach, Richt declared, "I’m thinking we need to have a great week of preparation for Georgia Tech.
"Right this minute all I can think about is Georgia Tech. Anybody want to talk about Georgia Tech?"
Sure — anybody who sat spellbound watching the events unfold in Waco, Texas and Eugene, Oregon.
No one gave the Baylor Bears any chance to beat No. 1 Kansas State. Except maybe those who believe in the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Baylor entered the game with a 4-5 record (1-5 in the Big 12.) Their alleged defense had allowed a whopping 35.67 points per game. By comparison, Tech allows 29.6.
Not only did Baylor hold K-State to 24 points (while scoring 52), they also intercepted Collin Klein (the best player on the nation’s best team, proclaimed SI’s cover) three times. Klein had thrown only three interceptions in his first 10 games.
And there’s this: K-State kicked off as a 13-point favorite over Baylor. Georgia’s favored over Tech by 13.
Anybody who watched Stanford beat Oregon likewise knows anything can happen.
The Cardinal held the mighty Oregon to 14 points, and that includes an overtime period. Prior to Saturday night, Oregon hadn’t been held under 42 points in a game all season. Season scoring average: 54.8.
More insanity: the two quarterbacks who engineered these upsets replaced Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck They just happened to be the two best quarterbacks in college football last year, now setting rookie records in the NFL.
At September’s end, the AP Top 25 featured 18 undefeated teams. By Sunday, Notre Dame was the only one left. College football. What a gas!
And so, on Saturday, when 92,746 screaming patrons wedge themselves Between the Hedges, Georgia will be playing for the national championship. Against an opponent quite capable of pulling off a major upset.
And what could be sweeter for Tech than that?
No, it isn’t exactly how we envisioned it.
But don’t think this isn’t big.