For a game nicknamed “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart was in a very complimentary mood discussing the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who visit Athens on Saturday to conclude a regular season that has gone decidedly different for both teams.

While top-ranked Georgia (11-0, 8-0 SEC) is a win away from earning consecutive undefeated regular seasons for the first time in school history, the Yellow Jackets (5-6, 4-4 ACC) need to pull off perhaps their biggest upset in school history to be bowl-eligible for the first time since 2018.

“(Georgia Tech’s) playing really well now. They're playing really hard now,” Smart said. “They always have — you know, Tech has good personnel. And the guys there know football and you can see that the kids are playing with a lot more passion and energy.”

While what Smart said may be true, the fact is the rivalry between the schools separated by about 60 miles has become as one-sided as any in the nation.

Georgia has won the past four meetings by an average of 36.3 points after a 45-0 win last year. The Bulldogs have beaten the Yellow Jackets in 17 of the past 20 meetings.

Georgia is coming off a 16-6 victory at Kentucky on Saturday and will play in the SEC title game for the fifth time in the past six years when it faces No. 5 LSU (9-2, 6-1 SEC) on Dec. 3. Georgia Tech rallied from a 17-0 second quarter deficit to pull out a 21-17 upset of then-No. 13 North Carolina (9-2, 6-1 ACC) on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Georgia Tech has gone 4-3 under interim coach Brent Key, who was promoted assistant head coach and run game coordinator after the school fired Geoff Collins following a loss to Central Florida on Sept. 24 that dropped them to 1-3.

Key, however, could be coaching his final game with the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech also fired athletic director Rick Stansbury and hired J Batt, the former executive deputy director of athletics, chief operating officer and chief revenue officer at Alabama.

“I’m worried about Georgia, it’s the No. 1 team in the country,” Key said. “It’s the biggest challenge of my life right now, is taking this group over there to Athens on 12 o’clock on Saturday.”

Georgia is favored by a whopping 35.5 points against the Yellow Jackets, who haven’t faced a team anywhere near as dominant as the Bulldogs have been this season.

Georgia is first nationally in scoring defense (11.09 points per game), third in rushing defense (83.1 yards per game), fifth in total defense (272.1 ypg) and 11th in scoring offense (38.4 points).

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,011 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, leading an offense that is seventh in the country in yards per game (496.3).

Tight end Brock Bowers has 41 receptions for 625 yards with four touchdowns, while Ladd McConkey has 46 catches for 606 yards and four touchdowns. Kenny McIntosh has been a threat out of the backfield with 33 receptions for 341 yards and a score, in addition to rushing for 568 yards and seven scores on 111 carries.

The Bulldogs’ Daijun Edwards is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, having rushed for 547 yards and seven touchdowns on 107 carries.

Bennett went 14-for-20 passing for 255 yards and four touchdowns against Georgia Tech, while Bowers finished with three catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns, including a 77-yard scoring reception.

Against North Carolina, the Yellow Jackets’ two quarterback system of Zach Gibson, who went 13-for-18 passing for 174 yards, and Taisun Phommachanh, who went 2-for-5 passing for 13 yards in addition to rushing for 44 yards and a score on 10 carries, led an offense that amassed 373 yards.

Hassan Hall has rushed for 520 yards and a score on 115 carries, while Dontae Smith has run for 386 yards and five touchdowns on 77 carries this season. Nate McCollum has 54 receptions — at least 32 more than any other Yellow Jacket — for 590 yards and three touchdowns.

The defense held North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, a Heisman Trophy candidate, to 16-for-30 passing for 202 yards and an interception.

Georgia Tech has allowed an average of 27.6 points per game, but it gave up just 17 against the ACC Coastal Division-leading Tar Heels, who had been averaging more than 40 points per game.

“We’ve challenged our team these last two months to become a more physical football team, and not just at the line of scrimmage,” Key said. “But also the way we run the football. and the way we stop the run; the way we cover kicks, the way we block on the perimeter, the way we take on blocks in the secondary, the way we finish on the quarterbacks and ball carriers — all of those things."

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