If Georgia Tech is unable to pull the upset in the ACC Championship game against Florida State, it appears more than ever that the Yellow Jackets would head for the Sun Bowl. With a win, of course, Tech would go to the Orange Bowl.
In the event of a loss, Saturday’s results make it more likely that the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, would be Tech’s destination. Clemson’s loss to South Carolina Saturday dropped the Tigers to No. 14 in the BCS standings, so they’re still eligible for an at-large bid, but with two losses and their Orange Bowl showing last year, it doesn’t seem likely.
That would make Clemson the automatic pick for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Russell Athletic Bowl, which has second pick in the ACC bowl selection order after the BCS bowls, can choose between Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and N.C. State.
N.C. State just fired coach Tom O’Brien, so I’m guessing this isn’t a fan base ready to celebrate anything. If the Yellow Jackets are available, it will mean they’ll have lost two games in a row, one by a wide margin, and have fallen to 6-7. Tech will have a better league record than the Hokies (5-3 to 4-4), but Virginia Tech will have won its last two games, have a non-losing record (6-6) and a win over the Jackets. Further, Virginia Tech has never been to the Russell Athletics Bowl.
As I noted in a post last week, having a winning record (or at least not a losing record) is not a small matter of importance to the Russell Athletic Bowl folks. The bowl, formerly the Champs Sports Bowl, is used to getting eight- or nine-win teams.
Prior to the Georgia game, Citrus Bowl Sports CEO Steve Hogan said that “I think the Georgia game is a big game just because of that, because of the overall winning record.”
One or the other will go to Orlando, I think. That would leave Tech at the Sun Bowl, its destination last year. The Sun Bowl is required to take the ACC title-game runner-up if it’s available. Two ESPN projections pair Tech up with Southern California.
I’ve read that Tech would not be bowl eligible at 6-7 and that the waiver that UCLA received last year will not be granted. BCS guru Jerry Palm tweeted it, for instance. I don’t believe that to be the case, largely because, as I’ve written, Tech, ACC and bowl officials all expect the waiver to be granted. The other reason is that the NCAA process instituted that addresses 6-7 teams that lose their championship game was put in place for a situation in which there weren’t enough bowl-eligible teams.
As I understand it, because there are enough bowl-eligible teams, there isn’t a need to use the protocol that could potentially keep Tech out. It’s conceivable that the waiver could be denied, but on a teleconference Sunday night, coach Paul Johnson said that acting athletic director Paul Griffin told him that Tech will go to a bowl.
One other thing: Should Tech pull the upset, it’s likely Orange Bowl opponent will be the Big East champion, either Rutgers or Louisville. The two teams play Thursday night to decide the title. There’s also a possibility that Kent State, which hasn’t played in a bowl game since 1972 but is playing against Northern Illinois for the MAC title, could make it the Orange Bowl.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech bowl