So many options for Georgia Tech’s bowl destination

Georgia Tech fans cheer before the start of the Georgia Tech home game against Georgia during an NCAA college football game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium, Saturday, November 25, 2023, in Atlanta. Georgia won 31-23 over Georgia Tech. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Georgia Tech fans cheer before the start of the Georgia Tech home game against Georgia during an NCAA college football game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium, Saturday, November 25, 2023, in Atlanta. Georgia won 31-23 over Georgia Tech. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Now that Georgia Tech’s regular season has ended, the one burning question that remains is, where and when will the Yellow Jackets play this postseason? That question won’t be answered officially until Sunday – and trying to project where the Jackets may end up until then is a futile exercise.

At 6-6, Tech virtually is in the same boat as eight fellow ACC teams, not including Florida State and Louisville. That group of nine could be sent to any of the 11 December bowls that have agreements with the ACC. Those 11 bowl games are split into two tiers.

The first tier includes the Reliaquest Bowl (Tampa, Florida), the Holiday Bowl (San Diego), the Pop-Tarts Bowl (Orlando, Florida), the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Florida), the Pinstripe Bowl (New York City), the Duke’s Mayo Bowl (Charlotte, North Carolina) and the Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas). Those bowls will work in agreement with one another to choose the most desirable ACC teams for their respective events.

The second tier of ACC bowls includes the Military Bowl (Washington, D.C.), the Fenway Bowl (Boston), the Birmingham Bowl and the Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa). Those contests will have their choice of ACC teams who are not chosen to play in the first tier of games.

Matchups for these contests won’t be announced until Sunday. That’s in part because of the remaining slate of conference championship games to be played Saturday, including the ACC title game in Charlotte, which features No. 5 Florida State (12-0) against No. 10 Louisville (10-2).

Florida State, with a victory, could end up in the College Football Playoff. That scenario would place Louisville in the Orange Bowl. If Florida State wins, but is not selected for the College Football Playoff, the Seminoles would play in the Orange Bowl and Louisville could be selected to participate in one of three New Year’s Six bowl games.

If Louisville beats FSU, the Cardinals would head to the Orange Bowl and Florida State likely would play in another New Year’s Six matchup.

In essence, the ACC Championship game outcome will, at some level, dictate where the rest of the league’s teams land this bowl season.

Tech, North Carolina State (9-3), Clemson (8-4), North Carolina (8-4), Duke (7-5), Miami (7-5), Virginia Tech (6-6), Boston College (6-6) and Syracuse (6-6) are bowl eligible this season. Where each of those teams finished in the ACC standings has no bearing on where they will play in the postseason – bowls with league tie-ins will choose teams based on potential fan attendance and interest, expected TV ratings, the on-field matchup, the off-the-field storylines and any number of other factors.

To throw a small wrench into the selection process, Notre Dame (9-3) could be taken as a participant in many of the aforementioned games in lieu of an ACC team being chosen.

The ACC bowls for this season include possible matchups with programs from the Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12, SEC and American Athletic. A team from outside one of those conferences, however, could be chosen if a league did not produce enough bowl-eligible teams.

For what it’s worth, Tech has been projected to play in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl (ESPN, Sporting News), Pinstripe Bowl (ESPN, USA Today, CBS, Athlon Sports, Action Network), Sun Bowl (Fox Sports), Gasparilla Bowl (The Athletic) and Military Bowl (247Sports, College Football Network).

Tech finished its regular season Saturday with a 31-23 loss to Georgia. The Jackets will be playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2018 and will be looking for their first postseason victory since 2016, when they defeated Kentucky in the Taxslayer Bowl.

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