Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech are bowl eligible. (Reuters)
ATLANTA - With two games remaining in the regular season, Georgia Tech knows this much about its bowl future — it’s going to be at a bowl game of some sort. The rest is rather muddied.
The Yellow Jackets, bowl eligible with six wins, could still play in the Orange Bowl and they could end up at the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La.
There’s even a slight possibility that they could spend New Year’s Eve for the third consecutive year in El Paso, Texas, for the Sun Bowl.
“If we had to take them, we would gladly take them,” Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas said.
Tech’s array of options stems from the fact that the ACC Coastal Division is wide open. Though Tech’s league schedule is complete and other teams have only one or two games remaining, four teams — Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech — could still represent the Coastal Division in the ACC championship game in Charlotte Dec. 7.
Said Olivas, “It’s kind of crazy, but our pool seems to be widening.”
Tech has finished ACC play with a 5-3 league record and can still earn a share of the Coastal Division for the fourth time in coach Paul Johnson’s six years with help. Simply to win a share of the title, the Jackets will need Duke, which is 4-2 in the conference and is the only team controlling its destiny, to lose one more game, either at Wake Forest this Saturday or at North Carolina Nov. 30.
To actually represent the Coastal and get a rematch with Florida State in the ACC championship game will require more results to go Tech’s way. Specifically, Miami at 3-3 and Virginia Tech at 4-3 must lose one more game. The Hurricanes finish with Virginia Saturday and a road game against Pittsburgh Nov. 29. The Hokies have an open date before its final regular-season game at Virginia Nov. 30.
Said Johnson, “Who knows what’s going to happen with that.”
A Virginia upset of Virginia Tech would appear to be the outcome least likely to occur. The Cavaliers have lost seven games in a row and have also lost nine in a row to the Hokies and 13 out of the past 14.
Should the Jackets reach the ACC title game and upset No. 2 FSU, they would play in the Orange Bowl for the first time since the 2009 season. If Tech were to make the ACC title game and lose, the Jackets could return to the Sun Bowl. The Sun Bowl has the No. 3 pick of ACC teams after the BCS bowls and is contractually obligated to take the ACC title game loser if it is still available, which is how the Jackets ended up there last year.
Olivas said Monday that while the Sun Bowl has enjoyed having Tech the past two years, it would prefer not having the Jackets for a third year in a row, for Tech’s sake as much as the game’s.
“Part of the bowl season is to give the kids a chance to see parts of the country they don’t ever get to see,” he said, and the Jackets have west Texas pretty well covered.
Tech would almost certainly view it similarly. If the situation arose, Olivas said the Sun Bowl and Tech could both petition the ACC to have the title-game loser clause voided, allowing the Jackets to drop past the Sun Bowl.
Depending on Tech’s finish — the Jackets play FCS Alabama A&M Saturday and end with Georgia Nov. 30 — the Jackets’ potential landing spots include the Russell Athletic Bowl (which has the No. 2 pick after the Chick-fil-A Bowl), the Sun (No. 3), the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., (No. 4), the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., (No. 5) and the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La. (No. 6), where Tech went at the end of the 2010 season.
Many projections have Tech going to the Music City Dec. 30. Music City Bowl president and CEO Scott Ramsey said that Tech “is certainly in our mix at this point.” Atlanta’s proximity and Tech’s never having been to the bowl are two selling points for Tech. Another is its traditional rivalries with several SEC teams, as the bowl also has an SEC tie-in.