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Better Know an ACC Opponent: the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Don’t expect a lot of passing action in Saturday’s game.

NCAA Football: Mercer at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The School: The Georgia Institute of Technology

Record: 2-0 (1-0 in the ACC). Tech was 3-9 in 2015. Its last win came in a 35-10 romp over Mercer, also known as the school so bad it made Johnny McCrary give up football forever.

Ranking: Unranked in the AP Top 25 and Coaches' Poll. The formulas have Georgia Tech rated 68th in the Real Time RPI, one spot higher than Middle Tennessee was last week (Vanderbilt is 85th).

Mascot: The Yellow Jackets. And an old-timey car, for some reason! At least Auburn’s multi-headed mascot problem combines three terrifying creatures (tigers, eagles, rednecks). Tech’s mascots can be stopped by the lure of nearby sugar water and unleaded gasoline.

Location: Atlanta, GA. The only city in America where half an inch of snow can create a state of emergency.

Coach: Paul Johnson, who has carved out a career as a successful football coach by sticking to the principles and virtues of a terrible high school team. His patented flexbone option ensures the ball will be pitched six times to increasingly slower players before some tight-end looking rando wearing a running back’s number blasts through a confused linebacker for a first down.

Conference: The Atlantic Coast Conference, better known as the origin story behind Arkansas State’s long journey to the Big 12. Things were (relatively) comfortably before the ACC decided to end the Big East as we know it and take Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College from their rightful homes. Wait, Boston College? Is that right? That doesn’t seem right.

All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 19-15-3. Yeah, but before 1915, the Commodores were undefeated against the Yellow Jackets and beating them by nearly 30 points per contest in an era where scoring more than 25 points was considered witchcraft. If we could only go back to those simpler times where Vanderbilt football was good and Atlanta was more concerned with blaming Mary Phagan’s death on people it personally disliked.

In the Last 20 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 0-3. It wasn’t pretty, either. A 135-51 aggregate score, and two of those losses came against relatively mediocre, seven-win Tech teams.

The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Eeesh. The 2009 team wasn’t one of those mediocre ones. An 11th-ranked Georgia Tech team gave up 31 points to Vanderbilt in Nashville and still won by 25 points thanks to 404 rushing yards. Plus side: it was the only time all year the Commodores scored more than 16 points against a Power 5 team.

Is Vandy Favored?: Nope. For the first time all season, Vanderbilt will be a 6.5-point underdog in Atlanta on Saturday. The over/under is 43, but that suggests one of these teams is going to score more than 20 points, so there’s no way that’s accurate.

Most Potent Offensive Threat: Dedrick Mills scored the winning touchdown in the team’s season opener against Boston College, then was suspended for last week’s game against Mercer. So he’ll be well rested, at the very least.

He’s really just a fill in for every running back in the Yellow Jackets’ stable. Qua Searcy is technically the team’s leading rusher, but take away his performance against FCS teams and he’s at -4 yards for the season. Matthew Jordan is technically a quarterback but he’s got two more rushing touchdowns than anyone else on the roster. Just throw a dart at the GT depth chart and whoever you hit will probably be the guy to break Vandy’s back Saturday.

Most Potent Defensive Threat: Senior linebacker P.J. Davis gets all over the field in a hurry, and he’ll be the most likely candidate to slow down Ralph Webb after Webb’s monster day against MTSU. He had 10 stops against Boston College in week one.

Matchup to Watch: Vanderbilt’s defensive front vs. Georgia Tech’s run-heavy flexbone offense. Boston College limited Tech to only 2.7 yards per carry two weeks ago, but Vandy hasn’t been as effective against the run. The Commodores have allowed opponents to gain a shade over four yards per touch this season, and while run defense hasn’t been a major problem for Derek Mason this season, it will be put to the test on Saturday.

Interesting Fact: Georgia Tech’s passing offense rank the past five seasons:

2015: 121st
2014: 118th
2013: 115th
2012: 112th
2011: 119th

At most, there were 125 teams on that list. How the hell did this school produce Calvin Johnson?

Bonus Fact!: Georgia Tech has satellite campuses in France, Ireland, China, and Singapore, all of which serve a public service for reminding foreigners to avoid the state of Georgia.

Triple Fact: Georgia Tech football also gave us the man who came to be Roman Reigns, so a belated thanks for ruining wrestling for the rest of us, Yellow Jackets.

If Georgia Tech wins, we: get reaaaaaal creative about finding Vanderbilt’s path to six wins. A 4-0 run through non-conference play is the best way to get to the postseason, but it’s not impossible to shake off a loss to the Yellow Jackets. It’ll just be way, way more difficult.