ATLANTA — With its double-overtime loss to Georgia on Saturday, Georgia Tech played its way out of the top ACC tie-in bowls. But it appears the Yellow Jackets have at least a couple bowls interested in having them visit.
Even better for Tech, that doesn’t include the Sun Bowl, where the Jackets have gone for the past two years.
“If it works out and we’re able to host them this year, I think it would be a great fit,” said Music City Bowl president Scott Ramsey, who on Sunday night was planning to speak with athletic directors, including Tech’s Mike Bobinski, on Monday to gauge interest.
The Music City Bowl, in Nashville, Tenn., has the fifth choice of ACC teams after the BCS bowls. The bowl ahead of Music City, the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., also has Tech on the table. Both are relatively close to Tech’s fan base, and the Jackets have never played in either bowl game. The Music City, first played in 1998, is the older of the two.
“I could see Georgia Tech either here or possibly in Nashville,” Belk Bowl executive director Will Webb said.
The Chick-fil-A and Russell Athletic bowls, which have the first two picks of ACC teams after the BCS bowls, can be scratched off the list after the Jackets’ loss to Georgia dropped them to 7-5. Miami (9-3), Virginia Tech (8-4) and, if it loses to heavily-favored Florida State in Saturday’s ACC championship game, Duke (10-2) look like better options for those two games. If the Blue Devils lose, they can fall no farther than the Sun Bowl, which has the third pick.
Both Webb and Ramsey said a Jackets win over Georgia would have strengthened their candidacy, as it likely would have meant a more travel-ready fan base, but both downplayed the loss.
“If you’ve got a team that’s going to lose the last game of the season, you want it to be a good game, not a blowout,” Webb said.
For the Belk and Music City, Tech also has the advantage of being far closer than other ACC options like Boston College or Syracuse. The proximity of both cities likely would also appeal to Tech fans, as the Jackets have played their last three bowl games in Shreveport, La. (2010) and El Paso, Texas (2011 and 2012). The Music City is on Dec. 30, a Monday afternoon game, which means fans could drive up for a long weekend. Possible opponents include Vanderbilt, Mississippi and Mississippi State.
The Belk is a short drive from Atlanta and is on Dec. 28, a Saturday afternoon game. Coincidentally, the Tech men’s basketball team plays at Charlotte the following evening. Cincinnati and Houston are two teams projected to receive invitations.
North Carolina (6-6) is another candidate, particularly for the Belk. While bowl projections have long cast Clemson into the Orange Bowl as an at-large team, the Tigers’ loss to South Carolina on Saturday may change matters. While the Orange Bowl has ACC ties, it doesn’t have to take an ACC team if Florida State wins the conference title and advances to the BCS title game.
“The bowls these days, they’re a lot more about TV ratings than just selling tickets,” said Sam Chi of bcsguru.com. “And with ESPN basically televising all these bowl games, I think they’re going to put some heat on the Orange Bowl (to pass Clemson in favor of a more appealing opponent).”
Were the Tigers to fall out of the BCS, the Chick-fil-A would likely pick them up and knock the ACC’s other bowl-eligible teams down a notch.