This weekend’s game against Gardner Webb marks the first time Tech has ever played the Runnin’ Bulldogs. The Dogs are coming off a loss to Charleston Southern, 13-10, in their Big South opener. The Dogs ran up 473 yards of total offense and scored just 10 points. The Bucs were able to take advantage of their opponent’s miscues and kick a field goal with less than one second left to seal the win.
The Bulldogs of Gardner Webb are led by Head Coach Steve Patton in his 12th season at the school. Patton has averaged just fewer than seven wins a season with a record of 72-48 in his 11 years. Patton’s win total is tied for the highest number in school history and his .600 win percentage is the best.
This season, Gardner Webb opened at Tennessee Tech, where they lost 12-28 to the Golden Eagles despite more yardage than Tennessee Tech.
The Dogs rebounded with back to back wins against Tusculum and Austin Peay before losing to Sam Houston State and former Oklahoma quarterback Rhett Bomar, 33-49, at home.
The Dogs come to Atlanta before returning home for two straight home games, including the first of four straight conference games.
The Jackets are coming off their first home shutout in eight years and their last shutout since blanking North Carolina 7-0 in 2006, their Coastal Division Championship year. Tech is coming off a dominating win over Duke. Offensively, the Jackets had 454 yards of total offense, 230 of which was from true freshman quarterback Jaybo Shaw to redshirt sophomore Demaryius Thomas. Sophomore running back Jonathan Dwyer added a career high 159 yards.
Last season, the Jackets had a home-and-home scheduled with Army, with the game this year to be played at Army. However, Army backed out of their end of the deal soon after the game in Atlanta last year, and Tech was forced to find a new opponent.
This late in the scheduling process, it is very difficult to find another Bowl Subdivision team without incurring a large expense as Tech would not have been able to return the trip until after the 2012 season.
The Jackets game against Gardner-Webb will not be counted towards bowl eligibility because the Jackets have already played one Football Championship Subdivision team. The Jackets may get sophomore quarterback Josh Nesbitt back, but senior quarterback Calvin Booker may see significant playing time in his place.