- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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GEORGIA TECH AT NO. 3 GEORGIA
Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
Records: Georgia 10-1 (7-1 SEC), Georgia Tech 6-5 (5-3 ACC)
Last week: Georgia beat Georgia Southern 45-14, Georgia Tech beat Duke 42-24
What’s the Story?: No. 3 Georgia needs one more win to all but ensure that next week’s SEC championship game is for a spot in the BCS championship game. That win will have to come in Saturday’s game against in-state rival Georgia Tech -- in the final home game Georgia’s seniors will play between Sanford Stadium’s storied hedges. Victory over the Yellow Jackets means an enormous buildup to next week’s game in Atlanta. A defeat would be one of the most devastating losses in Mark Richt’s tenure as Georgia’s coach.
Five headlines: See our five storylines to watch here.
Players to watch:
Aaron Murray: Georgia’s quarterback has toyed with Tech’s secondary in two previous meetings, so expect to see him sling it around on Saturday. He leads the nation with a 174.33 passer rating and is coming off a 330-yard performance last Saturday against Georgia Southern.
Alec Ogletree: All Ogletree does is lead Georgia in tackles, as he did once again with 12 stops last week against Georgia Southern. Ogletree led Georgia with 11 tackles last season against Georgia Tech and will be at the center of the Bulldogs’ defensive effort against the Yellow Jackets' option offense.
Garrison Smith: Smith was named SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week last season against Georgia Tech -- the school where his brother Greg once played running back. He has emerged as one of the Bulldogs’ top defensive linemen since Abry Jones went down with an ankle injury midway through the season and recorded seven tackles last week against Georgia Southern.
Tevin Washington: Washington has shared time with Vad Lee at quarterback, but he remains one of Tech’s most dangerous offensive weapons. He is second on the team with 598 rushing yards and has run for 18 touchdowns (Lee has 447 rushing yards and nine scores). Washington is not a particularly intimidating passer, however. Georgia picked off two Washington passes in last season’s meeting, so it would not be a major surprise to see Lee play in passing situations.
Orwin Smith/David Sims: Tech’s outside-inside combination of Smith and Sims can create problems for any defense. Smith leads the Jackets with 673 rushing yards and leads the ACC with an average of 9 yards per carry. Sims seems to be returning back to full speed after an injury slowed him earlier in the season. He forms a tough-running tandem with fellow fullback Zach Laskey on inside dives.
Jeremiah Attaochu: Attaochu plays the Jarvis Jones role in Georgia Tech’s 3-4 base defensive scheme. Nobody in the country plays the part as effectively as Jones, but Attaochu is having a perfectly effective season at outside linebacker. He leads the Yellow Jackets with nine tackles for a loss and seven sacks.
Georgia’s defensive front vs. Georgia Tech’s rushing attack
There is no mystery to this game. Georgia Tech is going to rack up yardage on the ground with its flexbone offense -- the Yellow Jackets rank third nationally with an average of 324.91 rushing yards per game -- and the Bulldogs simply must get enough defensive stops to build a lead. The Jackets don’t play well from behind, but it isn’t particularly easy to pull away when Tech continuously strings together time-consuming scoring drives.
By the Numbers
Georgia has dominated this series since Richt became the Bulldogs’ coach. Richt owns a 10-1 record against the Yellow Jackets, with the only loss coming in 2008, Johnson’s first season at Tech. Johnson is 1-3 against Georgia since taking over at Tech.
Georgia Tech is bowl eligible for the 16th straight season, which is the nation’s fourth-longest streak -- trailing Florida State, Florida and Virginia Tech.
Although Georgia Tech has been vulnerable to the pass, allowing 251 yards per game, the Yellow Jackets have intercepted at least one pass in 10 consecutive games -- the longest such streak in the FBS this season.
On Deck: Georgia plays a to-be-determined opponent -- most likely No. 2 Alabama (10-1) -- in the SEC championship game next Saturday. Georgia Tech will face No. 10 Florida State (10-1) in the ACC championship game.