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Johnson says Jackets focused on Georgia
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ATLANTA — Georgia Tech’s bowl plans and ACC championship hopes will not be on the line when the Yellow Jackets play Georgia this week.

That comes a week later, when they play Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Tampa, Fla. The winner goes to the Orange Bowl, no matter the outcome of Georgia Tech’s in-state rivalry game.

Coach Paul Johnson says he’s not worried that his No. 7 Yellow Jackets (10-1) might be looking ahead to Clemson or overconfident against Georgia (6-5), which is coming off its first home loss to Kentucky since 1977.

“Our whole focus is on Georgia right now, as well as it should be,” Johnson said Sunday. “If not, we’ll get embarrassed. I don’t think our guys are thinking about anything other than the game Saturday night against the University of Georgia.”

Georgia Tech beat the Bulldogs 45-42 last year in Athens to end their run of seven straight wins in the series. Georgia couldn’t hold a 28-12 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs (6-5) lost another halftime lead in their 34-27 loss to Kentucky on Saturday night. Georgia led 20-6 before its four second-half turnovers helped Kentucky to its first win in Athens since 1977.

Georgia coach Mark Richt pledged Sunday that his program’s decline would be temporary.

“All programs go through some cycles,” Richt said. “We’ve been on a pretty good upswing for quite some time. This year has certainly been a downturn when it comes to the record. It is what it is. But will we get it back on track and get back to the winning ways we’re used to? I think so. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it.”

Johnson said Georgia’s loss to Kentucky only showed the Bulldogs’ talent.

“There’s not any worry about being overconfident,” Johnson said. “All you have to do is turn the tape on. They have some great players. I mean, the game Saturday night, they beat Kentucky up and down the field. They had almost 500 yards (487) to 260. They just had some turnovers that cost them the game. If they don’t turn the ball over, they win going away.”

Georgia has a minus-18 turnover margin for the season. Opponents have scored 102 points off the Bulldogs’ 26 turnovers.

Georgia Tech had a open week and will bring an eight-game winning streak into its home game against Georgia. The Yellow Jackets’ only loss was a 33-17 decision at Miami on Sept. 17.

Georgia Tech held at No. 7 in the BCS standings this week.

“We really haven’t talked about it a whole lot,” Johnson said of the BCS. “We know we’ve got to continue to win each week and that will take care of itself. If we win our division and our league, we know we’ll go to the Orange Bowl, and that’s our goal.”

Georgia Tech has been led by a strong junior class that includes defensive end Derrick Morgan, running back Jonathan Dwyer, safety Morgan Burnett, receiver Demaryius Thomas and quarterback Josh Nesbitt.

Johnson said he plans to talk to the juniors this week to discuss their NFL options.

“I’ll talk to most all the juniors who are thinking about what their status might be and hopefully they’ll come up with a plan and if enough things meet their criteria, then they’ll go,” Johnson said. “If they don’t, then they’ll probably come back to school.”

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