- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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GEORGIA TECH (2-4, 1-3 ACC)
The first half of the season can be summed up in two overtime losses, a humiliating home loss to Middle Tennessee, and the firing of defensive coordinator Al Groh. It was a miserable, humbling first half of the season for the team picked to finish second in the Coastal Division.
The Yellow Jackets fell behind in the division race from the get-go when they lost in overtime, 20-17, to Virginia Tech in the highly-anticipated Labor Day season opener. At the time, it looked like a narrow loss against a good, nationally-ranked defense. It was hardly a foreshadowing of the troubles that would ensue. A convincing 56-20 romp of Virginia two weeks later had the Jackets looking like they still had a chance to get back into the division race, but Georgia Tech went on to lose three straight -- including a humiliating 49-28 home loss to Middle Tennessee. It was Georgia Tech's first loss to a non-BCS school since 1996, and it was the first time since 1988 that the program lost back-to-back home games. There’s no question it was the worst loss of coach Paul Johnson’s career in Atlanta.
Groh was fired after a 47-31 road loss to Clemson, leaving behind a defense that had allowed 30 points per game and a team struggling to pick up the pieces.
Offensive MVP: Senior quarterback Tevin Washington. He led an offense that ranks third nationally in rushing. He’s on pace to break school and ACC records for rushing touchdowns (13 this season, 31 for his career). He’s passing at a rate of 62 percent completion. He is tied for the national lead in touchdowns scored.
Defensive MVP: Senior DT T.J. Barnes. In the center of the 3-4 defense, Barnes is not going to accumulate a ton of statistics -- he has just 13 tackles and a half-sack. But on a defense that has struggled, Tech coaches will likely agree he’s been the most consistent player this year.
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4dJared Shanker and Andrea Adelson