Georgia Tech had to hold off a late Maryland rally last weekend in order to stay perfect, winning 21-16. The 6-0 start is the school's best since the 1966 season, and ensures that the Yellow Jackets play in a bowl for the 15th consecutive year. Georgia Tech has also won 10 of its last 12 against ACC Atlantic Division opponents.
"To accomplish something that hasn't been done since 1966 (starting 6-0) certainly speaks volumes to those guys," said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson at his weekly press conference this week. "Going up to Charlottesville is always a challenge, (it's a) tough place to play. They're 3-2 this season, but I think their two losses have come to two teams that are a combined 10 and 2."
Virginia meanwhile, is coming off a bye after beating Idaho in overtime on October 1st. It was a quality outing for the Cavaliers, who overcame three turnovers and outgained the Vandals by 200 yards. Virginia will host NC State on October 22nd, then travel to Miami for a Thursday night matchup with the Hurricanes on October 27th.
The series between Georgia Tech and Virginia is tied at 16-16-1.
Tevin Washington made his 10th consecutive start last weekend against Maryland, and rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Washington continues to direct one of the nation's most efficient offenses. Georgia Tech is fourth nationally in total offense (553.5), fourth in rushing offense (360.5), sixth in scoring offense (46.5) and second in passing efficiency (209.1). Washington has thrown for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns against two interceptions, and has run for another 309 yards and six scores. Orwin Smith leads the team with 77.3 yards rushing per game, while David Sims gets 72 yards per contest. The two have combined for 13 total touchdowns, with Smith scoring eight on the ground.
The Georgia Tech defense had given up at least 21 points in its first five games heading into the Maryland matchup, and are 31st nationally in total defense (342.8). The Yellow Jackets allow 161.3 yards rushing per game, and 181.5 passing (15th nationally). And while the unit is 107th in tackles for loss per game (4.5), it has 11 takeaways and 15 sacks in six games, with Jeremiah Attachou accounting for four sacks and Brandon Watts posting three. Julian Burnett leads the team with 58 tackles, and Isaiah Johnson is tied for third in the ACC with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Virginia's offense isn't as dazzling as Georgia Tech's, but it has been a productive unit that ranks in the top 50 in most offensive categories. The Cavaliers are 39th in total offense (438.8), 41st in rushing (177.2) and 38th in passing (261.6). Virginia has featured a two quarterback system this season, with Michael Rocco seeing a majority of the snaps. Rocco has completed 94-of-149 passes for 1,032 yards, but has thrown just two touchdowns against seven interceptions. He had one of his more productive outings of the season against Idaho, connecting on 20-of-30 passing for 240 yards and a score. Freshman David Watford has played in five games, completing 25-of-50 passes for 240 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The counterpart in the backfield, Perry Jones has averaged 73 yards per game and has proven to be a quality receiver (24 catches, 199 yards, one touchdown). Kevin Parks averages 70.5 yards per game rushing and six touchdowns, although he didn't play against Idaho. Kris Burd has put up the best numbers at receiver, catching six balls per game (ranks 36th nationally) and averages 74.6 yards per outing.
"We are going to have to be able to put points on the board," said Virginia head coach Mike London at this week's weekly press conference. "We are going to have to be able to get the ball in the end zone. We are pretty good in the red zone but we have got to go from the 20, past the 20, to get that point where you get in the red zone. Field position is going to be critical for us- where we start with every possession."
The Cavaliers played perhaps their best game defensively against Idaho two weeks ago, holding the Vandals to just 296 yards of total offense and 12 first downs. The defense came up with a big stand to the win the game in overtime, after Idaho elected to go for two and the win with the score 21-20. Virginia is 23rd nationally in total defense (311.8), 25th in pass defense (195.4) and 35th in rush defense (116.4). Virginia also is 14th in tackles for loss per game (7.8) and have recorded 10 sacks through five games.
"They're big on the defensive line like most people we have played. It's not any different than most people you play in the league," said Johnson. "Like I said, statistically they're one of the better teams in the league right now. They're in the top 25 in the country (defensively). It'll be a challenge."