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Unless Georgia Tech gets a waiver from the NCAA, the Yellow Jackets will not be bowl-eligible if they lose to Florida State in Saturday's ACC title game.
The Yellow Jackets finished in a three-way tie for the ACC's Coastal Division title with North Carolina and Miami. However, North Carolina is on NCAA probation and not bowl-eligible. Miami would have played in the ACC title game but took a self-imposed bowl ban on Monday, hoping to soften future NCAA sanctions.
Miami's decision sent Georgia Tech (6-6) into the ACC title game -- and will cost the Yellow Jackets a bowl berth unless they win the appeal.
If Georgia Tech (6-6) loses to FSU -- the Seminoles are a two-touchdown favorite -- the Yellow Jackets would finish 6-7 and be in a similar situation that UCLA was in last season.
However, the NCAA's Board of Directors specifically ruled on the possibility of 6-7 bowl teams this summer, a decision that could keep the Yellow Jackets home.
Last year, the Bruins played in the Pac-12 title game because South Division champion USC was not bowl-eligible. The Bruins lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game to finish 6-7 but received an exemption to play in a bowl despite a losing record.
NCAA rules dictate that teams must be 6-6 or better to qualify for a bowl. However, with 70 bowl spots and the possibility of not enough teams qualifying with .500-or-better records this season, the NCAA's Board of Directors specifically outlined the selection process this summer for filling any remaining bowl spots not filled by eligible 6-6 teams.
The problem for Georgia Tech is there are currently 70 bowl-eligible teams. UConn (5-6) could make it 71 if it beats Cincinnati on Saturday. Pittsburgh (5-6) would be bowl eligible if it wins at South Florida Saturday.
Under the NCAA's new bowl selection process, established this past summer, if there aren't 70 bowl teams available, the remaining spots would be filled in the following order:
" First pool: those that finish 6-6 but are not usually bowl-eligible because the team has a win against an FCS team that does not meet the necessary financial aid requirements.
" Second pool: Those that have a 6-6 record but beat two FCS teams to be bowl-eligible.
" Third pool: Those that finished with a 6-7 record, with their seventh loss being a league championship game, to be eligible.
" Fourth pool: Allow a team that played 13 games but finished with a 6-7 record to be eligible.
Georgia Tech would qualify only in the third pool criteria.
Industry sources told ESPN that "several conferences" are opposed to Georgia Tech getting the waiver, because it would take away a bowl spot from an eligible 6-6 team.
While Georgia Tech needs a waiver if it loses the ACC title game, a win would send the Yellow Jackets to the Orange Bowl as the ACC champion. Georgia Tech could play Kent State if the Flashes, currently No. 17 in the BCS rankings, beat Northern Illinois for the Mid-American title Friday and move into the top 16 in the final BCS rankings.
If Kent State loses or doesn't climb into the final top 16 rankings, then the ACC champion would play the Big East champion -- either Louisville, Rutgers or Syracuse.