Looking at Georgia Tech’s bowl picture


Georgia Tech’s win over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech on Saturday accomplished a number of things.

One, it kept alive the Yellow Jackets’ goal of going undefeated at home, something they have done just twice (1990 and 1999) since coach Bobby Dodd’s retirement in 1966. Two, it improved coach Paul Johnson’s home record against ranked opponents to 9-4. Three, it moved Tech a big step forward toward bowl eligibility.

The Jackets are 5-4 with two games remaining, Saturday at Duke and Nov. 25 against Georgia. They can secure their 20th bowl appearance in 21 seasons with a win over the Blue Devils.

Johnson isn’t worrying about bowls yet.

“Nobody knows how that’s going to sort out until you get through the season anyway,” Johnson said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

If they can collect a sixth win, Tech’s hopes to play in as premier a bowl as possible rest with Miami, Clemson and Notre Dame continuing to win. If either Miami or Clemson is chosen to play in the College Football Playoff, then the other can play in the Orange Bowl as the ACC representative. Notre Dame can play in any ACC bowl (except the Orange Bowl as the conference representative), so Tech and other ACC teams would be better off if the Fighting Irish can win a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl and leave the other ACC bowl slots open.

Most likely, the next spot for an ACC team would be the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fla., which would seem a logical destination for N.C. State. The Wolfpack are likely to take over for Virginia Tech as the next highest-ranked ACC team after Clemson and Miami in Tuesday night’s latest CFP rankings.

After that, the ACC bowl selection format calls for the next four bowls – the Belk in Charlotte, N.C.; the Sun in El Paso, Texas; the Pinstripe in New York and either the TaxSlayer in Jacksonville, Fla.; and the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn. – to select in concert with each other, the league and the schools.

The TaxSlayer and Music City share a spot; the two are committed to taking three ACC teams and three Big Ten teams over a six-year term. With the TaxSlayer having picked two Big Ten teams already in three years, it’s likely to even the balance with another ACC team.

For those games, Tech is in a pool with possibly five other teams – Virginia Tech (7-3), Wake Forest (6-4), Louisville (6-4), Virginia (6-4) and Boston College (5-5). Syracuse, Duke and Pitt are still also alive at 4-6 each, as is Florida State at 3-6.

Out of these four bowls, the TaxSlayer, having invited Tech last year, is definitely out and the Sun would be an unlikely choice, as the Jackets went there back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012. That leaves the Belk (Dec. 29) and the Pinstripe (Dec. 27). Tech has never played in either game.

Both hold appeal. The Belk is close to Tech’s fan base and is an ACC-SEC matchup. The Pinstripe, against the Big Ten, would offer a Christmastime trip to New York for players and coaches and a game in Yankee Stadium. Sports Illustrated slotted the Jackets for the Pinstripe.

Obviously, Tech’s candidacy for the Pinstripe or the Belk looks far better with seven wins than six.

After those four “tier one” bowls, the following three bowls select in order – the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md., the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., and the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. The Jackets went to the Independence in 2010. It was not a terribly popular trip among players.

ESPN’s two bowl projectionists and USA Today picked Tech for the Independence. CBS Sports projected Tech to the Quick Lane Bowl.

With a 12th game unlikely, should Tech finish at 5-6, the Jackets can apply for a waiver with the NCAA to receive bowl eligibility. But, even if they received it, it would be no certainty that they would get into a bowl game. First, there would have to be bowl games that weren’t able to fill their spots with bowl-eligible teams. (According to Wright Waters, executive director for the Football Bowl Association, 2017 is slightly ahead of pace for bowl-eligible teams than 2016, when two 5-7 teams played in bowl games.)

Second, there is a pecking order for teams that don’t receive conventional bowl eligibility – six wins in a 12-game schedule, with only one of the wins against an FCS opponent that uses at least 90 percent of its scholarship allotment – and 5-7 teams are at the bottom. For instance, teams that finish 6-6 and have a win over an FCS team that doesn’t use at least 90 percent of its scholarship allotment are ahead on the priority list over 5-7 teams.

Third, 5-7 teams are selected based on Academic Progress Rate score, and Tech is behind a few teams, including Air Force, Vanderbilt, Minnesota and Duke, that could finish at 5-7 and have higher APR scores than the Jackets.

Tech would be wise to remove all doubt by winning a sixth game.

Said Johnson, “I’d like to get to seven, actually.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

5 observations from Georgia Tech’s loss to No. 1 Virginia
5 observations from Georgia Tech’s loss to No. 1 Virginia

Georgia Tech gave No. 1 Virginia trouble, but the Cavaliers gave a demonstration of how they’ve reached the top rung in the country. On a night when the Yellow Jackets’ challenged Virginia’s defensive standards, the Cavaliers shot 47.9 percent from the field and took advantage of its opportunities to claim a 65-54 win at John...
Tech Hall of Famer Nicholas Thompson supporting shooting victims
Tech Hall of Famer Nicholas Thompson supporting shooting victims

Georgia Tech Hall of Fame golfer Nicholas Thompson was like many Americans who were gripped and heartbroken by the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. The tragedy was more personal to Thompson than most, though, as he is a graduate of the Parkland, Fla., high school. So it was that Thompson and his wife, Christen, who...
Josh Pastner asking for patience
Josh Pastner asking for patience

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton knows a little bit about what Georgia Tech is experiencing this season. In his fourth season at Miami and his third at Florida State, his teams slid backward after signs of progress. At Miami, the Hurricanes were 7-11 in 1992-93 in Big East play, Hamilton’s third season, but then fell to 0-18 the next season...
Taking a second look at Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech
Taking a second look at Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech
A secondary review of Georgia Tech’s 76-56 loss to Virginia Tech Saturday. The “Five observations” story can be found here. The rather unlikely reality of Georgia Tech’s slide through the ACC schedule is that the Yellow Jackets are actually playing a little better offensively than they did a year ago. By a number of statistics...
5 observations from Georgia Tech’s loss to Virginia Tech
5 observations from Georgia Tech’s loss to Virginia Tech

Georgia Tech tasted defeat for the ninth time in the past 10 games, this time to Virginia Tech by a 76-56 score at McCamish Pavilion Saturday. After a hot start, the Yellow Jackets were overtaken and subdued by the Hokies, who led by as many as 35 points before relenting. Georgia Tech (11-16 overall, 4-10 ACC) is now assured of a losing record at the...
More Stories