Even if Georgia Tech loses to UGA, Jackets still have path to bowl

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

When Georgia Tech fired coach Geoff Collins after the fourth game of the season and named Brent Key as the interim, earning bowl eligibility seemed a most remote possibility. The Yellow Jackets were 1-3 and were in disarray.

But after going on the road to upset No. 13 North Carolina on Saturday, Tech is now one win away from leveling its record at 6-6 and punching its ticket for its first bowl game since 2018. All it will take is giving the first loss of the season to No. 1 Georgia, and doing so in Athens as 35.5-point underdogs, no less.

However, the Yellow Jackets have another way in even if they aren’t able to topple the Bulldogs and finish the regular season at 5-7. Going into the 13th week of the season, there are not enough bowl-eligible teams to fill the 82 bowl slots and there may not be even after the regular season is over.

In that case, bowl games that are in need of a team will dip into the pool of teams that finished at 5-7, and that’s where Tech has a chance. If spots are available, teams at 5-7 will be taken in order of their NCAA-measured Academic Progress Rate score, and Tech’s 979 score is sixth among teams one win away from earning bowl eligibility.

There are 73 teams that are bowl eligible, according to a CBS Sports report, leaving nine slots up or grabs. There are 16 teams that are either 5-6 or 5-5 needing one win to get in. There are additionally two teams at 4-6 that could gain bowl eligibility by finishing with two wins to get to 6-6.

Two of the 5-6 teams, Ball State and Miami (Ohio), play each other Tuesday, meaning that one of those two teams will win a sixth game and take the 74th spot.

That leaves eight more spots. The clearest path for Tech to play in a bowl game is to stun the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium. But if the Jackets were to lose, their way in would be to have enough other five-win teams also lose to put them in position to claim a spot at 5-7 via their APR score.

In that case, Tech would need to have no more than two of the teams that are 5-6, 5-5 or 4-6 and with lower APR scores win (or win twice in the case of the 4-6 teams), as the five teams ahead of them in APR would get in ahead of the Jackets even if they and Tech all lost to each finish 5-7. If three of those teams with lower APR scores gained bowl eligibility with six wins, for instance, they plus the five ahead of Tech in APR could take up the remaining eight spots and leave out the Jackets.

The odds do not appear in Tech’s favor. Not counting Miami (Ohio) and Ball State, there are nine teams behind Tech in APR that are either 5-6 or 5-5 or 4-6.

Four of them are favored in their games this weekend and two of them have two games to play. One of the four that’s a favorite – Alabama-Birmingham (vs. Louisiana Tech) – is favored by more than two touchdowns. Further, Army could also be a problem. The Black Knights are 4-6 and favored heavily against Massachusetts. If that game goes in Army’s favor, regardless of the outcome of its season-ending game vs. Navy, the Black Nights will get to five wins. By virtue of an APR score superior to Tech’s, Army would bump Tech down the waiting list if both were 5-7 and further reduce the Jackets’ chances.

Barring the upset of Georgia, it puts the Jackets in longshot position. But certainly much closer than one might have guessed in September.