Georgia Tech will likely learn exactly where it stands in the next three weeks, beginning with Saturday's home game against Virginia Tech in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets (3-4, 2-3 ACC) have lost two of their past three games after a 48-40 loss at Virginia last week. They are running out of time toshow they've made progress toward no longer being in the bottom tier of the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.
Georgia Tech has yet to win back-to-back games this season, but the Yellow Jackets opened as 3.5-point favorites against the Hokies (3-4, 1-2).
When coach Geoff Collins took over for Paul Johnson prior to the 2019 season, the Yellow Jackets were coming off a 7-6 season that ended with a loss to Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl.
But they've gone 9-20 overall, including 7-15 in ACC play, under Collins, who has the team in danger of not playing in a bowl game for the third straight season, something that hasn't happened at Georgia Tech since the early 1990s. Prior to Collins' arrival, the Yellow Jackets had played in a bowl game in 17 of the previous 19 seasons dating to 1999.
But Collins insists the Yellow Jackets are getting better, even if their record doesn't show it.
Georgia Tech has lost three games by a combined 15 points after a 48-40 loss to Virginia last week. The Yellow Jackets' other setback was a 52-21 hammering by Coastal Division-leading Pittsburgh.
"The biggest thing we talked about is just creating margin in the program," Collins said on Tuesday. "When we first got here there was a big margin and now that margin is really small."
How big are the Yellow Jackets' next three games, which include a trip to Miami (3-4, 1-2) and home against Boston College (4-3, 0-3)?
A team must have six wins to be eligible for a bowl game. If the Yellow Jackets don't win their next three games, they close the season at No. 11 Notre Dame (6-1) and at home against top-ranked Georgia (7-0).
"In this game, when you are playing in this league, you are playing against quality opponents and we've become a really good competitive team," he said on Tuesday. "But that margin is so small and you leaving one play to chance, that is the margin from our record being what it could be to what it is."
The Yellow Jackets couldn't have picked a better time to play Virginia Tech, which is reeling after three straight losses. The Hokies gave up two touchdowns in the final 2:28 in a 41-36 loss last week to visiting Syracuse, which amassed 550 yards of total offense, including 314 on the ground.
The Hokies have become the ACC's epitome of mediocrity, having gone 22-22 in their past 44 games and 15-14 in their past 29 ACC contests. The teams didn't play last year and there are very few key returning players from the Hokies' 45-0 win at Georgia Tech in the teams' last meeting in 2019.
Against Virginia, the Yellow Jackets played their best game offensively of the season.
Quarterback Jeff Sims threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns and an interception, while Jahmyr Gibbs rushed for 132 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run, on just 13 carries. Kyric McGowan had seven catches for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"A tremendous challenge this week," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. "We're going on the road to Georgia Tech, which has an explosive offense with really good skill players."
--Field Level Media