After another excruciating one-point loss last Saturday against Miami, it is understandable for Tech football fans to be frustrated. One point losses on close plays to end games will do that. Despite Tech’s mediocre 3-2 record, there is still reason to be optimistic about Tech football, even in spite of the brutal schedule ahead.
On Saturday, Tech joined a handful of BCS teams to have multiple one-point losses in a season. Since 2000, only 37 teams have lost multiple games by one point. While the 3-2 record hurts when it comes to conference standings and bowl game qualifications, Tech is a much better team than that record indicates, and future games should reflect that reality.
Using Pythagorean record, which predicts a team’s strength and win percentage based off points scored versus points allowed, Tech is No. 21 in the nation and No. 4 in the ACC behind Clemson, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. In the yardage-based Pythagorean record, which looks at strength and win percentage as a function of yards gained versus yards allowed, Tech is No. 20 in the country. Based on these statistical predictors, Tech is actually one of the best teams in the country, and although results have not followed yet, they should be coming soon.
Tech’s schedule, which looked brutal as of last week, now appears a little lighter thanks to some upsets from a crazy weekend. Despite having no ranked versus ranked matchups, there were an incredible seven upsets last weekend, including four top ten upsets. Among those upsets were ACC favorites Clemson, who for the first time since last year looked human. The Tigers were upset on the road by the Syracuse Orange, 27-24, taking their first loss since losing to Pittsburgh over a year ago, 43-42. Clemson is the toughest team on Tech’s schedule, but their loss to Syracuse means that the Jackets might have a chance to down the reigning national champs.
Down the stretch, Tech will be facing Wake Forest, a team that has lost two in a row and is only 1-2 in ACC play; the suddenly-mortal Clemson; an upstart UVA team that has yet to face serious ACC competition; Virginia Tech (who the Jackets knocked out of the AP Top 25 Poll last season with their backup quarterback) and a lackluster Duke team who was only narrowly able to defeat UNC earlier this season.
The Jackets are 2-1 in ACC play currently, and given that their conference schedule looks significantly weaker thanks to this weekend, there still exists slim hope for Tech to beat a path to the ACC Championship game.
If the ACC Coastal turns out to be as close as it was in 2012, Tech might be able to earn a spot in the game without running the table — a 6-2 record could be enough to get the Jackets to the title if Miami stumbles down the stretch (which, given their close calls, they certainly might). Even then, a bowl game should not be out of the question for Tech.
Tech fans can also take solace in the youth of the team. QB TaQuon Marshall, who has been nothing but a revelation for Tech’s offense, is presumed to be returning next season for his final year of eligibility, and KirVonte Benson is only a sophomore. Much of the offense’s core will be intact for at least next season, and despite losing the Austin twins next year, the same can be said of the defense. Tech’s future looks bright, and if this season does anything, it establishes Tech as a team with something to prove.
Both the Tennessee and Miami games were disappointments for Tech, but looking forward, there is still much to be excited about with regards to Tech football. The future looks bright for the Jackets.