Georgia Tech heads into their Sun bowl game with Utah with an 8-4 record. By most estimations the Yellow Jackets slightly over achieved this season following a forgettable 6-7 2010. Most folks had the Jackets going 6-6 or 7-5. They started the year a surprising 6-0, but that’s when things started going south.
Remember it’s how you finish not how you started. Losers of 4 of their last 6 games, including another loss to arch rival Georgia has some Jacket fans wondering just how much this team has improved.
Swap the Kansas win over the inexplicable loss last year to the Jayhawks, and the only difference from last year was defeating ACC Champion Clemson. Paul Johnson won’t be on any hotseat with a loss but more than any other ACC coach he needs to come out of the bowl season with a win. Why? Let’s quickly look at the other ACC bowl teams.
UNC will have a new coach. Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe and Virginia’s Mike London have already significantly overachieved this season. Jimbo Fisher is only in his second season at FSU. Tom O’Brien at NC State battled injuries all season, overcame the departure of Russell Wilson, and beat arch rival North Carolina in addition to Clemson. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney won the ACC. Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer could use a marquee win, but when you’re the ACC’s most consistent winner over the last several years you get plenty of leeway. That leaves Johnson and Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets haven’t won a bowl game since 2004. A point made by the AJC’s Mark Bradley, as he wrote that Georgia Tech needs to win a bowl game just to prove it can. I completely agree. Another bowl loss would mark 5 of the last 7 years that Georgia Tech would end the season with 2 consecutive losses, Georgia and the Bowl Game. That would be 7 straight years that the season ended without a win, and we still haven’t discussed Johnson’s bowl record that’s currently 0-3 in Atlanta.
Johnson bristles when anyone questions the viability of his triple option offense. I know it works and I believe given the right players you can win big with it. The fact remains when you keep losing bowl games you feed into the notion teams that have a month to prepare for the triple option will slow it down. I think that’s a myth, but until you win a bowl game the myth will only continue to grow.
There’s a big difference between a 9-4 finish with a top 25 ranking and a 8-5 season without a significant 2nd half of season victory other than Clemson. Throw in the 3rd consecutive loss to Georgia, and like I said Johnson isn’t on any hotseat, but you might find that some Georgia Tech faithful will be getting just a little restless.