Hurricane Irma threw a wrench into the scheduling plans of multiple ACC schools, as Florida State and Miami’s Sept. 16 game was rescheduled for Oct. 7, and Georgia Tech was forced to cancel its Sept. 16 matchup with UCF in Orlando.
As an ACC game, the matchup between the Seminoles and Hurricanes had to be rescheduled. But Georgia Tech’s game with UCF was expendable, leaving the Yellow Jackets in a unique position. The impromptu bye will help Georgia Tech in the short term, but it may hurt them in the long term if they’re hovering around .500 in late November.
Paul Johnson admitted this week that the school has had conversations about playing a 12th game. But the Yellow Jackets want to play on Oct. 7, the team’s bye week. Georgia Tech could reschedule with UCF in early December if the Yellow Jackets don’t win the ACC Coastal and play in the ACC Championship Game. Johnson expressed his preference for an Oct. 7 game.
With only 11 games on the regular season schedule at the moment, Georgia Tech’s path to bowl eligibility has been reduced by one possible win. The Yellow Jackets will now need to find five wins among their remaining nine opponents to secure postseason eligibility.
The flip side is that Georgia Tech gained some much-needed rest after playing two games in six days. After dropping a gut wrenching 42-41 decision in overtime to Tennessee on Labor Day, the Yellow Jackets came back the following Saturday and defeated Jacksonville State, 37-10. Bye weeks always help from the standpoint of healing up players, even if they come early in the season. In Georgia Tech’s case, with its offense, byes are even more beneficial as far as giving running backs and offensive linemen extra time to recuperate.
If there ever was a good time for such a bye week, this was it for the Yellow Jackets, with ACC play on the horizon. Georgia Tech hosts Pitt and North Carolina the next two Saturdays in Atlanta before traveling to Miami Oct. 14. Those three games will play a decisive role in whether or not the Yellow Jackets can return to the top of the ACC Coastal this fall.
Pittsburgh’s defense was gashed by Oklahoma State last week, and allowed over 1,000 passing yards through their first three contests. Georgia Tech will throw something entirely different at the Panthers, but Pitt’s defensive woes gives the Yellow Jackets a major advantage. The advantage was enhanced by the fact that Georgia Tech has had several extra days to prepare for Pitt, while the Panthers have been forced to treat this week like any other week.
Georgia Tech’s bye week can prove to be a fluke stroke of luck. That is, if they can run the gauntlet of Pitt, UNC, and Miami unscathed, and emerge as the team to beat in the Coastal. But if they falter, the UCF game will be looked back upon as a crucial win that the Yellow Jackets needed.