The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team will be spending its New Year’s Eve close to home.
On Wednesday afternoon, the school announced that it has reached an agreement with representatives from the Chick-fil-A Bowl to play the Dec. 31 game at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome against an opponent still to be named.
The announcement of the bowl selection was the first made for a non-BCS team. Thus far, only Cincinnati and Penn State have locked up bids to the BCS Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl, respectively.
“It’s always been our mission to put the two best teams on the field; teams that win their way into our bowl game and have the best bowl game they can. That’s the mission of the Chick-fil-A Bowl,” bowl president Gary Stokan said.
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Speaking to reporters at Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum, school officials were joined by members of the bowl’s selection committee, who spoke very highly about the Yellow Jackets selection.
“We felt that by going through the 10 teams that were available to us during the selection process … we felt like Georgia Tech with a ranking of 15 in the country, and the job that (head coach) Paul Johnson has done meant an awful lot to us,” Stokan said.
Chick-fil-A Bowl representatives selected Georgia Tech for a myriad of factors, but one of the biggest reasons was the school’s close proximity to the Georgia Dome. Located less than five miles north of the downtown arena, Georgia Tech’s Atlanta fan-base is so large that bowl officials believe the team will easily fill its allotted portion of tickets.
“I would like to make a special request to Georgia Tech fans that you spend New Year’s in Atlanta,” Stokan said. “Obviously, we all know what the economy is like. We hope the fans will come down and be a tourist in their own city.”
Played at the Georgia Dome since 1992, the bowl — once referred to as the Peach Bowl — has sold out for the past 11 years. In the past 10 years, it ranks first in average attendance among all non-BCS bowl games, drawing 71,986 spectators each game.
On multiple occasions this season, representatives for the Chick-fil-A Bowl — a bowl named for its primary sponsor, the Atlanta-based restaurant chain — visited the Yellow Jackets during games, even taking in last weekend’s 45-42 win over Georgia, that ended a seven-game series losing streak.
“Obviously (Georgia Tech) had big wins against Florida State and Miami, but probably the real key win in this state was beating their arch-rival Georgia who was 13th-ranked at that time,” Stokan said.
The Yellow Jackets’ cause was also helped by the fact that they hold the highest national ranking of an ACC team. Boston College and Virginia Tech, which play in this Saturday’s ACC Championship, are ranked 18th and 27th, respectively.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl has first choice of ACC teams that aren’t playing in a BCS game.
Broadcast nationally by ESPN on New Year’s Day, the Yellow Jackets and their anticipated SEC opponent — likely either LSU or South Carolina — will receive a whopping $6.016 million total team payout for appearing in the game.
This is Georgia Tech’s first appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl since 2000, when the Yellow Jackets lost to LSU 28-14.