Georgia and Georgia Tech’s rivalry doesn’t exist solely on game days.
Take Jeb Blazevich’s story, for instance. The Georgia junior tight end accompanied his girlfriend, Georgia cross-country and track runner Addy Lippitt, to a charity run where some Georgia Tech cheerleaders were present.
Lippitt, wearing a Georgia track and field shirt, is pacing a competitor during the race when the Georgia Tech cheerleaders realize she’s wearing red and black.
“(Lippitt) runs by and they start booing her,” Blazevich said. “You can’t avoid it. The rivalry’s everywhere. Even being out of state, it’s something you know and you feel.”
Blazevich is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and learned early the importance of the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry. While he didn’t grow up experiencing it, he participated in the 2014 game, which saw the Yellow Jackets win in overtime.
It was a loss Blazevich still seems bitter about to this day, even though he’s avenged it in the past two years.
“It was my first time playing them and understanding the ramifications of that,” Blazevich said. “It’s not just you have to deal with it for a week, deal with it for a month. That game will last you a solid year before you get a chance to play them again. I definitely felt that one.”
This will be the first Georgia-Georgia Tech game for Kirby Smart as a head coach but his seventh overall. After redshirting as a player in 1994, he appeared in every game from 1995-98, with the Bulldogs going 3-1 in that span.
Smart was a graduate assistant at Georgia in 1999, a 51-48 overtime win for the Yellow Jackets, and was the running backs coach in 2005 when the Bulldogs won 14-7.
“I think any time you play your state rivalry, first of all, it's good for the state,” Smart said. “It's a lot of people split down the line when it comes to this game, a lot of passion and energy goes into this game on both sides of it. We tell our kids all the time, ‘You're remembered by what your senior class does and what your record is against Georgia Tech.’”
It’s a game dubbed, “Clean, Old Fashioned Hate,” and the on-field product usually backs it up. The game can get chippy as bragging rights are on the line. A lot of the players on both teams grew up competing with or against each other in the state.
Therefore, that’s certainly an element Smart hopes stays in check on his sideline during this year’s game.
“You've got to keep it within the grasp of your emotions,” Smart said. “You play with emotion, but you've got to play with controlled emotion. You've got to make good decisions on the field.”
Georgia, under former head coach Mark Richt, enjoyed quite the level of success against Georgia Tech over the past 15 years. The Bulldogs went 13-2 under Richt’s leadership, with Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson going 2-6 since taking his program over in 2008.
After last year’s win in Atlanta, Georgia has the Governor’s Cup sitting in a trophy case at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
Defensive lineman John Atkins said he’s hoping to keep it there once again.
“That trophy looks good at the end of the year that you get,” Atkins said.