Georgia Tech doesn’t need to look hard to find reasons for motivation against Air Force in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl.
The Jackets need a win to avoid a losing season and to get some positive momentum to build off of heading into the offseason after a season in which coach Paul Johnson said “There was a lot that didn’t go right.”
“I don’t think we ever really got any consistency for whatever reason,” he said. “We just couldn’t get it done.”
That’s been the theme for Georgia Tech recently in bowl games, as the Jackets have lost five straight. Georgia Tech’s last bowl win came on Dec. 21, 2004, a 51-14 romp of Syracuse in the Champs Sports Bowl. Some Georgia Tech fans have asked why their program -- which has a two-time coach of the year and has played in the ACC title game twice and won it once -- doesn’t get more national attention. Part of that can be attributed to the Jackets’ inability to beat quality opponents in bowl games. They lost to Iowa in last season’s Orange Bowl and to LSU in the previous season.
This year, Air Force is a favorable matchup because Johnson defeated the Falcons five straight times when he was head coach at Navy. Johnson’s first Navy team in 2002 lost 48-7 to the Falcons, then the Midshipmen won five straight from 2003-07 en route to winning the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy each of those seasons.
There should be a reasonable expectation to think he could beat the Falcons again, this time with better talent, but as Johnson pointed out, the familiarity goes both ways.
“They aren’t going to be much different than us,” he said. “It is what it is. You are optioning people and blocking people. You might do it with a little different formation, but it is not going to be like us lining up against Miami; there will be a lot of similarities and carry over.”
Georgia Tech leads the all-time series with Air Force 3-0, but the two teams have not met since 1979 and have never previously met in a bowl game.