Georgia Tech may have the simplest bowl scenario in the country. The Yellow Jackets were the highest ranked ACC team in the College Football Playoff Rankings behind Florida State last week, and a big win at arch-rival Georgia should get them a big jump in the rankings. Because the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl are semifinal host sites, the ACC is the only Power 5 league with a tie-in to a “New Year’s Six,” meaning the highest ranked available team from the conference will be sent to the Orange Bowl.
An ACC Championship for Georgia Tech would automatically put them into the Orange Bowl as the Yellow Jackets are an incredible long-shot to make the College Football Playoff. Yet even in a losing effort, Georgia Tech should be the second-highest ACC team in the rankings. With would-be ACC champion Florida State in the CFP, the Orange Bowl would take a 10-3 Georgia Tech team as the Seminoles’ replacement. With the Yellow Jackets a near-lock for the Orange Bowl, the most interesting part about predicting the Orange Bowl will be their opponent.
The top team from Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame not in the CFP will be slotted into the Orange Bowl. With Notre Dame’s collapse, it’s a two-conference fight between the SEC and Big Ten. As it stands, the Big Ten appears more likely to send a team to Miami as Ohio State and Michigan State sit at No. 6 and No. 7 in the CFP Rankings with Ohio State’s Big Ten Championship Game opponent Wisconsin looming at No. 11.
The SEC’s top team currently outside the top four is No. 10 Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs don’t play again and won’t eclipse the idle Spartans. The more possible SEC teams to grab a berth are Alabama and Missouri. The Crimson Tide may fall out of the CFP if they lose to Missouri and could stay in front of the Big Ten contenders, while the Tigers could make a big climb with a neutral field win over Alabama. Alabama should hammer Missouri, however, which would lock the Crimson Tide into the CFP field and knock the Tigers, and the SEC, out of Orange Bowl consideration. Wisconsin should beat Ohio State, especially missing star QB J.T. Barrett, vaulting the Badgers in front of Michigan State as the Big Ten Champion to punch a ticket to Miami to take on Georgia Tech.
Lose ACC Championship Game: Orange Bowl
Win ACC Championship Game: Orange Bowl
Projection: Orange Bowl vs. Wisconsin