Georgia Tech's Qua Searcy (1) congratulates Nathan Cottrell (31) following Cottrell's touchdown against North Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Photo: Gerry Broome/AP
Photo: Gerry Broome/AP

Bowl projections for Georgia Tech

On the precipice of eligibility, Georgia Tech has returned to the world of bowl projections. At 5-4, the Yellow Jackets are in the conversation for postseason play, and they’ve joined the matrix of 128 FBS teams eligible to play in a bowl game and the 78 slots.

After Tech’s loss to Duke dropped the team’s record to 3-4, players made getting to six wins and earning bowl eligibility a priority after missing out on the postseason two of the past three seasons. The preseason goal of winning the ACC Coastal Division title is still a slight possibility, albeit one not entirely under their own control.

“We put ourselves behind the 8-ball when we started out, but we finally got it rolling and got back to a winning record now, and we’ve got keep that going,’ offensive tackle Andrew Marshall said. “We worked so hard to get back to it so we’ve got to finish these last three and get to a bowl game and see what happens. Just keep winning one game at a time, that’s all you can do.”

With five wins, the Jackets need to win once against Miami, Virginia or No. 6 Georgia to qualify for a bowl invitation. Online projections posted after this weekend’s games reflect Tech’s potential status as a less desirable team that may finish with six or seven wins.

Out of eight projections, three send the Jackets to the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26 to face a Big Ten opponent. Tech is also twice pegged for the Military Bowl Dec. 31 in Annapolis, Md., (American Athletic Conference) and also for the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27 in Shreveport, La. (SEC) The last is a projection for the Pinstripe Bowl in New York, also on Dec. 27. (Big Ten)

Tech has never been to the Quick Lane, Military or Pinstripe bowls. The Military Bowl being played at Navy’s stadium has an obvious connection with coach Paul Johnson, who coached the Naval Academy for six seasons before coming to Tech. The Pinstripe seems like less of a possibility given that Syracuse seems like a logical selection from the ACC. The Jackets last played in the Independence Bowl at the end of the 2010 season.

After the College Football Playoff and the New Year’s Six bowls – it seems unlikely that anyone from the ACC besides Clemson will be involved there barring an upset of the Tigers – here are the ACC’s bowl tie-ins: The Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fla., has first pick of any ACC team not in the CFP or a New Year’s Six bowl. Then four “tier one” bowls have equal selection status: Belk Bowl (Charlotte, N.C.), Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas), Pinstripe Bowl and either the Music City (Nashville, Tenn.) or Gator (Jacksonville, Fla.) bowls, which share a selection.

After that, the following four bowls pick in order: Military, Independence, Quick Lane and either Gasparilla (Tampa, Fla.) or Heart of Dallas. If more teams are available and it hasn’t filled its two slots, the Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl is the final tie-in bowl.

At this point, six ACC teams are already bowl-eligible: No. 2 Clemson, No. 19 Syracuse, No. 21 N.C. State, No. 22 Boston College, No. 25 Virginia and Duke.

The Jackets have the potential to move up into a more attractive bowl. Bowl officials typically want teams that finish strong, and Tech has the opportunity to do that with a formidable three-game stretch to close the regular season.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.