Fourth of July at Laurel Park
SHREVEPORT, La. — Georgia Tech will make its 14th consecutive bowl appearance in the Independence Bowl, a triple-option showdown against Air Force on Dec. 27.
The Yellow Jackets are the top rushing team in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision at 327 yards per game. Air Force is second with a 318-yard average.
"There might not be a lot of TV breaks," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said jokingly Sunday night.
The Yellow Jackets (6-6) struggled through an inconsistent season, one year after winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and playing in the Orange Bowl. But Johnson's team managed a .500 record, good enough to keep its postseason streak alive in the Shreveport, La., game sponsored by AdvoCare V100.
"I don't think our teams views anything as a letdown," Johnson said. "We're excited to have a chance to play again. I guarantee you the coaching staff and everybody understands if we're not ready to play Air Force, they'll embarrass us. I've been there. I know. We'll try to be ready to play."
Air Force (8-4) was invited to the game last week after finishing tied for third in the Mountain West Conference. The Falcons also claimed the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the 17th time with wins over Navy and Army.
Johnson faced the Falcons six times while coaching Navy. He won five of those meetings, but still has the utmost respect for a team that uses a run-based option offense similar to his own.
"It's going to be a little different with two triple-option teams," Johnson said. "I don't think either team is going to surprise the other with what they're doing. It's going to come down to execution, but that's kind of what it comes down to every week."
Johnson said he's not sure if star quarterback Josh Nesbitt will be able to return for one last college game. He broke his arm against Virginia Tech and missed the last three games of the regular season. Sophomore Tevin Washington started in place of Nesbitt for a win over Duke and losses to Miami and Georgia.
The Yellow Jackets are still smarting from their last game, a 42-34 setback against their state rival. Georgia Tech had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter but missed an extra point.
"We finished the season with a tough loss," Johnson said. "We're looking forward to having a chance to play another game."
Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich said the school will receive 10,000 tickets and hopes to have a large contingent at the game, even after struggling to sell tickets for its home games this season.
"I think our fans will really warm up to the idea of spending December just after Christmas out in that part of the world," he said. "It's really a very manageable drive from Atlanta to Shreveport to be involved in the game."