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NCAAF: Georgia Tech narrowing gap, still in danger of missing bowl season

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Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins had said his Yellow Jackets have closed the distance between themselves and the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but that doesn’t make the losses easier to handle.

The Yellow Jackets’ 33-30 loss at Miami last Saturday was their fifth defeat by nine points or less and third by six points or less this season.

“We are showing progress,” Collins told reporters on Tuesday. “The team that you see out there competing every single week has grown and developed. I think that is obvious, the growth and development in this program. If you can’t see how much we have grown, how much we have developed, you don’t want to see it.”

The heart-breaking setbacks have pushed Georgia Tech (3-6, 2-5 ACC) to the brink of missing out on bowl eligibility. The Yellow Jackets must win their final three regular-season games, beginning on Saturday against Boston College (5-4, 1-4), to reach the six-win total required to be invited to a bowl game.

“We want to win every game,” Collins said. “Having Boston College — a really good ACC opponent — coming into town, our focus will be to find a way to win the game.”

The Yellow Jackets play at No. 10 Notre Dame (8-1) on Nov. 20 before hosting top-ranked Georgia (9-0), which they haven’t beaten in Atlanta this century, on Nov. 27 to close out the season.

The Yellow Jackets, who have lost three straight games and four of their past five, haven’t had the turnaround they envisioned under Collins in his third year as coach.

When Collins took over for Paul Johnson prior to the 2019 season, the Yellow Jackets were coming off a 7-6 season that ended with a loss to Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl.

But they’ve gone 9-22 overall, including 7-17 in ACC play, under Collins. The team is in danger of not playing in a bowl game for the third straight season, something that hasn’t happened at Georgia Tech since the 1990s. Prior to Collins’ arrival, the Yellow Jackets had played in a bowl game in 20 of the previous 22 seasons dating to 1997.

The Yellow Jackets had their chances against Miami. Georgia Tech led 28-24 entering the fourth quarter before Andres Borregales’ 31-yard field goal cut the lead to 28-27 with 13:20 remaining. The Hurricanes took a 33-28 lead they wouldn’t relinquish on their next possession on Tyler Van Dyke’s third touchdown pass of the game, a 15-yard strike to Key’Shawn Smith with 10:27 remaining. Van Dyke completed 22 of 34 passes for 389 yards and no interceptions.

The loss was especially disheartening for the Yellow Jackets, considering they seemingly did everything that was needed to win. Jordan Mason had a 71-yard rushing touchdown, Jahmyr Gibbs added a 29-yard scoring run, Jaylon King returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown and the defense forced three turnovers.

But just like in its 26-17 loss to Virginia Tech a week earlier, the Yellow Jackets were burned by a receiver’s big game. Charleston Rambo had seven receptions for a whopping 210 yards and a touchdown a week after Virginia Tech’s Tre Turner torched Georgia Tech for 187 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

–Field Level Media

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