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Tech selected to Chick-fil-A Bowl
SEC opponent to be determined

ATLANTA - Geographically, Georgia Tech won't travel very far for its bowl game this season.

In terms of stature, the Yellow Jackets' acceptance of a bid to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl about two miles down the road at the Georgia Dome - officially issued the bowl to Tech on Wednesday - is light years from where they've been the last few years.

Though Tech is on a streak of 12 straight seasons of bowl appearances, it has been relegated to relatively minor bowls in remote locations the better part of the last seven years.

However, the 15th-ranked Jackets will get a chance to play in one of college football's top showcase games outside of the BCS bowls when they kick off against a yet-to-be-announced SEC team at 7:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

"We really had a goal to try to stay on the East coast this year," Tech coach Paul Johnson joked. "I think it's a credit (to the players) they found a way to pull that off."

While it is not quite a bid to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and a chance at the Orange Bowl the Jackets barely missed out on, it's the next best thing, according to Tech athletics director Dan Radakovich.

"As we start out every year within the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the things we want to do is at the end of the year, we want to be in the best position we can be in," Radakovich said. "If you look at places to go, certainly in the pecking order of ACC bowls, this is right at the top. This is what we've qualified for. We wanted to be in the best place we could qualify for and this is at home for us."

Despite not playing in the ACC title game this weekend, Tech - with its 9-3 record, the highest ranking of any ACC team in the BCS standings and its option offense that has averaged 428 yards and 31 points in the last four games - was the most attractive ACC option for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Recent wins over Miami and archrival Georgia made the Jackets even more attractive and Chick-fil-A Bowl officials, which has its first choice of ACC teams among the non-BCS bowls, wasted no time in securing them for this year's game.

In fact, the latter win - the first over the Bulldogs since 2000, coincidentally Tech's last appearance in the local bowl game, then known as the Peach Bowl - nearly made the Jackets an even hotter commodity.

"I think the Georgia win was huge in our selection process," said Gary Stokan, president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl. "To us, the BCS rankings were no doubt a factor, and I think can even move up. ... I know the BCS was contemplating holding Georgia Tech in its conference call (Tuesday). So, we feel awfully proud, privileged and honored to have Georgia Tech play in our bowl game."

Tech will have to wait a few days to find out its Chick-fil-A Bowl opponent.

Most published speculation has focused on either LSU or South Carolina possibly filling the other spot.

But while the Chick-fil-A Bowl was higher up in the pecking order for its team from the ACC, which gave permission to invite Tech before this weekend's title game, it is lower in the order among the SEC bowl affiliations.

Stokan says the bowl has an opponent for Tech in mind, but won't be able to make any announcement until after the SEC championship game on Saturday at the Georgia Dome, likely on Sunday afternoon.

Not that it matters to Johnson and the Jackets.

"I'm sure it will be a challenging opponent no matter who it is," Johnson said. "But we're looking forward to it.

"I think there are a lot of things that are exciting about it. For one, it's a marquee game. And for us, not winning the ACC championship this year, it's probably the highest ranking game we could get in."