The scheduling of high-profile non-conference games are not only fun for the fan bases, but it can signify the growth of a football program. In an age of declining football game attendance, quality non-conference opponents could potentially draw in bigger crowds. The willingness to schedule big-time games could be part of becoming a big-time program. Here are three programs Georgia Tech football should play:
3) Oregon Ducks | Pac-12 | Eugene, OR
Georgia Tech has only played the Pac-12 three times since 1998 when the BCS era had started according to topdan.com. Since 2001, the Oregon Ducks have been on the rise including two national title appearances, a Heisman Trophy winner (as well other finalists), and numerous NCAA records. The Oregon Duck (mascot) is known for doing push-ups for each point Oregon puts on the board which draws plenty of attention to their typically high powered offense.
The Ducks are also popular for their "swagger" which makes them more appealing. Nike co-founder and Oregon alum, Phil Knight, is attributed to making Oregon a rich football program. Knight is responsible for the 500+ uniform combinations the Ducks have accumulated over the past 20 years since their partnership with Nike. It'd be a hot topic to see what uniform design Oregon would wear against Tech.
The Ducks are famously known for their no-huddle offense. In the no-huddle, the team lines up in formation without huddling to call the play - hence its name. The offense relies on the gap scheme blocking by the offensive line. Oregon has a balanced attack with a focus on the run. It's very fast paced.
2) Michigan Wolverines | Big Ten | Ann Arbor, MI
Since 1998, the Jackets have only played two Big Ten teams - neither being Michigan. The Wolverines are known for having one of the winningest programs in college football. They've produced legendary coaches and players such as Bo Schembechler, Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard, and Tom Brady.
Football fans know of Michigan's stadium,"The Big House." It's a crown jewel in terms of college football stadiums. It's one of the largest stadiums in the world and can hold up to 107,600 fans. Since 1975, Michigan claims to have consistently held at least 100,00 people for every home game.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh has revived the Wolverines' program since the firing of Brady Hoke at the end of the 2014 season after going 31-20 in three seasons. In a five year span, Harbaugh has continuously hauled in top recruiting classes. Michigan's bread winner has been their defense and it has averaged a top 5 national finish during Harbaugh's tenure. The Wolverines' hybrid 4-3 defense has tons of blitzing and a majority of man to man coverage.
1) Auburn Tigers | SEC | Auburn, AL
Up until 1987, Georgia Tech vs. Auburn was an ongoing rivalry dating back to 1906 - with the exception of 1943 when Auburn did not field in a team as a result of WWII. The first matchup between the two programs was 1892. The Jackets and the Tigers have faced each other 92 times in their storied history. The two have only squared off twice since the closing of their rivalry - 2003 and 2005.
Aside from a renewed and rejuvenated competition should Georgia Tech and Auburn ever play again, witnessing the Tigers' traditions is one all football fans should experience. As far as national championships go for mascots, Aubie the Tiger is award-winning. Aubie first came to life during the 1979 season and was the first mascot to be inducted in the Mascot Hall of Fame.
The "War Eagle" battle cry is a 100-year-old legend. It's considered neither a mascot or nickname for Auburn. In 2000, War Eagle VI, also named Tiger, was the first eagle to take a pregame free flight in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Since then, Auburn has carried on the tradition of their beloved eagles free flying before kickoff of every home game.
Since coming to Auburn in 2013, head coach Gus Malzahn has had seven consecutive winning seasons - including a BCS National Championship appearance in 2014. He's led the Tigers to a 62-31 record, an SEC championship, and two SEC-West division titles. Similar to Geoff Collins and staff, Malzahn likes to recruit out of Georgia.
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