One of the keys that most people pointed to for Georgia to have a chance against Georgia Tech was time of possession. Georgia wound up achieving its goal of holding Tech under its season average. Interestingly, while there was certainly a measurable effect on the number of plays the Jackets ran, the stats show that there was more to the end result than that.
Going into the game, Georgia Tech was averaging ten more plays on offense (69.36) than it was allowing on defense (59.36). Georgia actually allowed roughly four more plays per game on defense (64.72) in its first eleven games than it ran on offense (60.64). Tech wound up running six more plays Saturday night (64) than did Georgia (58). As you can see, Georgia really didn’t do more than narrow the margins; the seasonal trends still played out.
What else made the difference, then? Two things: turnover margin and yards per play. For only the second time all year, Georgia won the turnover battle. The Dawgs also enjoyed a significant edge in yards per play, gaining 7.2 ypp to Tech’s 5.3 ypp. And if you look at the Jackets’ seasonal stats, all of that mattered.
The Tech defense yielded similar or worse ypp numbers in four other games this year, all of them wins: 7. 2 against Mississippi State; 8.2 against FSU; 7.4 against Virginia Tech; and 7.5 against Vanderbilt. Tech didn’t have an advantage in ypp in any of those games. But Tech was +4 in turnover margin against MSU and had significant possession advantages against Virginia Tech (70-45) and Vanderbilt (82-53). The FSU game was the (slight) puzzler, statistically speaking, as the Seminoles had one more possession on offense than Georgia Tech, went +1 in turnover margin and were even on ypp. (FSU did have 65 yards in penalties compared to Tech’s 9, though.)
What all these numbers suggest is that Mike Bobo called a great game. (Georgia’s ypp number against Tech was 1.3 ypp above its season average going into the game.) Georgia needed to control the game throughout and Bobo made sure that happened. As I said in the wake of the Auburn game, if you’re a good offensive coordinator, taking what the other guy gives you until he stops it is where you start. Tech never had an answer for the Georgia running game and Bobo resisted any urge he might have had to get cute with the playcalling. Tech had nothing else to counter with. And that, in the end, was your ball game.