In-state rivalry games are just plain fun. It generally doesn’t matter what the records of the two teams in the game might be, as both sides are fighting for pride and a year’s worth of bragging rights. This year the traditional regular season finale between Georgia and Georgia Tech will mean just a little bit more than that, and the Yellow Jackets could be primed for a big upset.
If you saunter around the metro Atlanta area in the weeks leading up to the game, you’ll see a clear-cut divide in the two fan bases. Co-workers that usually coexist magnificently, suddenly become mortal enemies and have to be sent to their separate corners (particularly in the break room). Parties suddenly take on a very cliquish feel, with anyone wearing even a slight tint of red retreating to one side, and those sporting anything yellow moving to the other.
I remember one particular year when I made a friendly wager with an office colleague over the outcome of the game. “The loser gets their cube decorated in the winner’s colors,” she said to me. I picked Tech, as they seemed a sure-fire winner that particular year. As the game unfolded and it was clear that the Yellow Jackets were not going to leave Bobby Dodd stadium victorious, I braced for what I assumed would be an assemblage of red and black steamers and crepe paper in my cubicle.
What I found was much more horrific.
Every wall of my cube was slathered with red or black foam-core, and then summarily covered with an immense throng of Georgia Bulldogs paraphernalia. My chair was wrapped in red saran wrap on both the seat and the back, and my desk areas were completely buried in mounds of red and black confetti. It was impressive, to be sure. I even tried to get a snapshot of the carnage, but my camera (this was in the days long before digital photos) seemed unwilling or unable to even shutter one shot.
This is the essence of “Clean Old-Fashioned Hate” (as it’s called by locals), and why rivalries like this one have so much meaning. Michigan and Ohio State may hate each other all year, but they generally don’t have to live with each other as neighbors and co-workers.
This season will bring an interesting game to The Flats, with Georgia falling under the spell of an unbelievable number of key injuries that have derailed all of their season goals, and Georgia Tech rebounding from an early season slump to put themselves in position (as miniscule as it may be) to still possibly reach the ACC title game, and to finish the season with nine or possibly even ten wins.
Georgia will be without their star quarterback Aaron Murray, who was injured in against Kentucky, but Georgia Tech fans provided the Bulldog Nation with some bulletin board material to that end. There are seniors on this Yellow Jacket team that have never beaten Georgia, and on the flip side, there are Bulldogs who have never lost to Tech.
The stage is set for an epic staging of this classic rivalry, and given the events of the season leading up to the game, it could go either way.