Special to the Journal
Labor Day will be extra special this year, as it concludes with the start of Georgia Tech’s 2012 football season.
When the Yellow Jackets line up against the Hokies of Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium (kickoff is at 8:00 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN and ESPN3), it will be more than just a match-up of ACC Coastal Division powers. It marks the 120th season-opener in school history.
Here are a few numerical nuggets about the history of Yellow Jackets season-openers to help get you in the mood for football and tithe you over until the end of the long weekend.
.705 – Georgia Tech’s all-time winning percentage in season openers. The Jackets have an 83-32-4 record in their first game of the season.
.867 – Paul Johnson’s career winning percentage as a head coach in season openers. Johnson is 13-2, going 4-1 at Georgia Southern from 1997 through 2001, 5-1 at Navy from 2002 through 2007 and 4-0 thus far at Georgia Tech.
0 – The total number of points Georgia Tech allowed in season openers from 1912 through 1921. The Yellow Jackets have posted 33 shutouts all-time in season openers.
1 – The previous number of season-opening games Georgia Tech has played on Monday. The Jackets dropped that one, 31-7, to No. 2 Notre Dame on Sept. 9, 1974 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
1 – The previous number of times Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were scheduled to hook up in a season-opening game. That came was scheduled for Aug. 27, 2000 in Blacksburg, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
1 – The number of offensive plays the Yellow Jackets needed to score in last year’s season opener against Western Carolina. The play was a five-yard run by Orwin Smith following a Brandon Watts sack and forced fumble, which was recovered by Quayshawn Nealy.
1 – The number of career rushing attempts by redshirt sophomore A-Back Deon Hill. It went for a five-yard touchdown and concluded the scoring in the 2011 season-opening victory over Western Carolina. Coincidentally, Hill and Orwin Smith went to the same high school (Central, in Phenix City, Ala.).
5 – The Yellow Jackets current winning streak in season openers. That’s 4-0 under Paul Johnson.
7 – The number of win for the Jackets in their last eight season openers.
11 – The number of wins for Tech in its last 13 openers.
30 – The average margin of victory in four season openers in the Paul Johnson Era. The Jackets have averaged 45.5 points per game to 15.5 for their opponents, outscoring them 182-62. Tech beat Jacksonville State 41-14 in 2008 and 37-17 in 2009, beat South Carolina State 41-10 in 2010 and bested Western Carolina 63-21 last year.
6 – The number of points Georgia Tech scored in its first opener, a 12-6 loss to Mercer in 1892 (a game played in Central City Park in Macon).
6 – The number of points the Jackets allowed in their first season-opening win, a 28-6 victory over Georgia in 1893.
4 – The number of times prior to this season that the season opener also was the conference opener. All four games were against NC State and the Jackets hold a 3-1 edge in those games. Tech is 4-1 all-time in ACC openers against the Wolfpack, the most conference-opening wins against any ACC opponent.
4 – Georgia Tech’s current win streak in ACC openers. The Jackets have yet to lose under Paul Johnson, having won, 19-16, at Boston College in 2008, beat Clemson, 30-27, in 2009, and the last two years topped North Carolina, 30-24 in Chapel Hill in 2010, and 35-28 last season. Johnson is the only coach in Georgia Tech history unbeaten in ACC openers.
5 – The most victories against one opponent in a season opener. The Jackets have five opening-night W’s against Vanderbilt, Clemson and Gordon College.
9 – The most season-opening games played against one opponent. The Yellow Jackets have kicked off a season nine times against South Carolina. The Jackets are 4-5 overall, going 4-1 at home, but 0-4 in Columbia.
18 – The number of times Georgia Tech has opened its season as a ranked team. They are 18-2 in those games and have won six straight games. The Jackets are 2-1 in openers where both teams are ranked, the last one coming in 1991 when the No. 8/6 Jackets lost, 34-22, to No. 7/8 Penn State, to kick off Bobby Ross’ final season. The 11th-ranked Jackets beat No. 20 Kentucky, 13-0, on Sept. 21, 1957 under Bobby Dodd, while the 1942 team, ranked No. 6, upended No. 4 Auburn, 15-0, on Sept. 26th, under William Alexander. Both games were played on Grant Field.
20 – The number of times Georgia Tech has played a ranked team in its season opener. The Jackets are 6-14 and, although they have lost their last five meetings the biggest spread in any of the games was 12 points. Four of the games decided by 10-or-fewer points, and the last three came by a total of 13 points.
22 – The Yellow Jackets longest unbeaten streak in season openers, from 1904 through 1925. Tech went 20-0-2 in that run. They stayed hot after the streak was broken, as following the 7-6 loss to Oglethorpe in 1926, Tech opened its season with wins 18 of the next 19 years.
10 – Tech’s longest winless streak in openers (1971 through 1980). The Jackets got off the schneid in 1981, as Bill Curry began his second year as coach on the Flats with a 24-21 win over No. 4 Alabama in Birmingham.
34 – The number of years since Georgia Tech has been shutout in a season opener. That came on Sept. 10, 1977 at South Carolina, a 17-0 loss.
28 – The number of points Georgia Tech scored in the first quarter of last year’s opener against Western Carolina. The 28 points and four touchdowns are highs for a quarter in the Paul Johnson Era.
42 – The number of points in the first half of last season’s opener. That’s also a record for Tech under Johnson.
45 – The number of yards by Calvin Johnson in the 2004 opener. Johnson caught two passes, with a long play of 29 yards. He is one of the eight freshmen to start an opener for Georgia Tech since 1996.
271 – The number of passing yards by Tevin Washington in last season’s opener. It’s his career-high. Washington also set a career-best with his three touchdown passes, one of which was a career-long 82-yarder to Stephen Hill. Tevin also had a 77-yard scoring strike to Hill and a 26-yard touchdown pass to Roddy Jones.