Bowl eyes Tech-UGA winner

ATLANTA - The Georgia Tech-Georgia game often influences the Chick-fil-A Bowl's selection process, and this year the rivalry game could play a lead role in determining the bowl's teams.

''This year it just so happens Georgia-Georgia Tech probably has a bigger implication than any year I can remember,'' Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan said Tuesday.

The winner of the Nov. 25 Tech-Georgia game in Athens could land in the Dec. 30 Chick-fil-A Bowl, unless the winner is Tech and the Yellow Jackets then win the Dec. 2 Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Jacksonville. The ACC championship game winner automatically advances to the Orange Bowl, so that is Tech's goal.

Tech players don't want to think about the possibility of losing in the ACC championship game, but bowl committees have to consider all options.

''They want to go to the Orange Bowl and we don't blame them,'' Stokan said. ''That's where they should want to play. But if they beat Georgia, that makes them more appealing to us if they lost in the ACC championship game.''

Tech players are aiming for a bowl trip to Miami, but safety Jamal Lewis said playing a bowl game in Atlanta ''would be perfect for a lot of people.''

''It would be great to play in your hometown and have a lot of friends and family there in a different sort of atmosphere,'' said Lewis, who is from the Atlanta suburb of Riverdale.

Stokan said the 18th-ranked Yellow Jackets, who play host to Duke on Saturday, would be a longshot for the Chick-fil-A Bowl if they lose to Georgia.

''If Georgia Tech were to lose to Georgia and then lose in the ACC championship game, we wouldn't want to rematch Georgia Tech and Georgia, and Georgia could be our team on the SEC side,'' Stokan said. ''So in effect the loser of that game would almost assuredly fall out.

''That's why the game has such big implications for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.''

The Chick-fil-A Bowl was formerly known as the Peach Bowl.

With losses to Georgia and in the ACC championship game, Tech probably would drop below the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the ACC's pecking order to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville or the Music City Bowl in Nashville.

''With two losses back to back, it would hurt their chances for our selection process,'' Stokan said.

According to ACC associate commissioner for football operations Mike Finn, no team in the ACC championship game could drop lower than the Music City Bowl.

If Tech beats winless Duke on Saturday, it would improve to 9-2 overall and 7-1 in the ACC.

Georgia was not expected to be included in the Chick-fil-A game's deliberations until it beat No. 5 Auburn 37-15 last Saturday. Georgia (7-4) is off this week.

''Their statement is if they beat Auburn, ranked fifth, and beat Georgia Tech, ranked 18th,'' Stokan said of Georgia. ''To beat two top 20 teams in their last two games would be awfully impressive to us in our selection committee.''

Stokan said the SEC possibilities are complicated. He said his selection committee is working under two SEC scenarios - if the league has one or two teams in BCS bowls.

''If the SEC doesn't get two BCS teams, Tennessee probably falls into our selection process,'' Stokan said. ''If they get two, then Tennessee probably moves above us.''

Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Kentucky are the other SEC teams high on the Chick-fil-A list, according to Stokan.

Tech's last appearance in the Atlanta bowl was in 2000, when it lost to Louisiana State 28-14. Georgia's last appearance in the game was its 35-33 win over Virginia in 1998.