Saturday November 28th, 2015 9:56AM

Tech hopes bowl streak back on track

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Now that one streak is over, Georgia Tech wants to keep another going.

The Yellow Jackets (4-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) travel to Virginia on Saturday for a crucial game in their bid to extend a stretch of 16 consecutive bowl appearances - tied for fourth among the longest active streaks in the nation.

Georgia Tech snapped a run of three straight losses last week with a 56-0 rout of Syracuse, but there's still work to do. While a .500 record is normally good enough to become bowl eligible, the Yellow Jackets will likely need seven victories to qualify since they've got two non-FBS schools on their schedule, Elon and Alabama A&M.

Even if they win both those games, as expected, only one would count toward bowl eligibility.

"I'm sure the guys aren't dumb," coach Paul Johnson said Tuesday. "We talked about that after the BYU game (the third straight loss), how we had gotten ourselves in a hole and didn't have a lot of margin for error. It was time to bow our backs and fight back."

The Yellow Jackets did just that against Syracuse, putting up their largest margin of victory ever in an ACC game, and they're facing another struggling team in the Cavaliers (2-5, 0-3), who have dropped four in a row.

Johnson isn't giving up on the conference race, thought it seems highly unlikely his team will be able to catch either Virginia Tech or Miami, both unbeaten in conference play. A year ago, Georgia Tech finished the regular season with a .500 record but claimed a spot in the ACC championship game when the Hurricanes imposed a post-season ban for allegations of major violations - a case, in an interesting twist, that was finally settled Tuesday when the NCAA took away nine scholarships from the school.

"There's a big difference between being 5-3 and 4-4," Johnson said. "And nobody knows what's going to happen. We didn't know we were going to be in the conference championship game a year ago, but lo and behold we were. We've just got to keep plugging and let that other stuff take care of itself."

If Georgia Tech loses at Virginia, its hopes of a 17th straight bowl will definitely be in jeopardy. The Yellow Jackets still have games at No. 9 Clemson and the traditional season finale against Georgia.

Clemson is coming off a blowout loss to Florida State, but the Tigers figure to be a huge favorite over Georgia Tech playing at home. Georgia is struggling through a disappointing season, plagued by injuries and having plummeted out of the Top 25 with back-to-back defeats, but the Bulldogs have lost to their state rival only once in the last 12 seasons.

"We're approaching every game like it's a playoff game," running back Zach Laskey said. "It's do or die for us."

Georgia Tech, for some reason, always seems to struggle in Charlottesville.

Virginia has won nine of the last 10 meetings at Scott Stadium, the only exception being Georgia Tech's 34-9 rout in 2009. The Yellow Jackets' last seven road losses in the series have been by an average margin of six points, including an excruciating 24-21 setback two years ago when they were off to a 6-0 start and ranked No. 12 in the nation.

"We were feeling really, really good about ourselves," Johnson remembered, "and they hit us right in the mouth right from the start."

That game, in a sense, signaled a change in direction for Johnson's program. He had a record of 32-14 at the Atlanta school before that day; the Jackets are 13-15 since then, leading to plenty of grumbling among the fan base.

Now, it's time for another trip to Virginia.

"The only thing I know is we've been there twice since I got here, and we won the first time 34-9," Johnson said. "We don't worry about some mystique. We just worry about our game. If we limit the penalties and limit the turnovers and play hard, like we did this past Saturday, we'll be OK no matter where we play. If we don't do those things, it doesn't matter where we play, either. We're not going to be very successful."
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
No. 19 Georgia blows past Illinois
Shacobia Barbee had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead No. 19 Georgia over Illinois 82-60 on Saturday.
10:42PM ( 1 year ago )
Dogs will face Nebraska without standout DE Moss
Nebraska defensive end Avery Moss returned to his home in Arizona to attend to a personal issue and won't play in the Gator Bowl against No. 23 Georgia next week.
10:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Georgia Southern coach Monken headed for Army
Desperate to snap its long losing streak against its archrival, Army has hired former Navy assistant Jeff Monken as its 37th football coach.
1:04PM ( 1 year ago )
College Sports
PLAYOFFS: Three goes into four, as area trio earn semifinal berths
Once the dust settled on Friday night, northeast Georgia found three teams still standing in the state football playoffs -- and it was so nearly four...
9:01AM ( 55 minutes ago )
(VIDEO) Class AAAA: Buford stomps into ninth straight state semifinal
Were it any other team the number alone would seem absurd, but Buford football could care less about numbers at this time of year -- at least any number but "one."
By AccessWDUN Staff
8:58AM ( 58 minutes ago )
(VIDEO) Class AAAAAA: Mill Creek routs Archer to advance to first semifinals
Mill Creek used a dominating defensive performance to whip Archer 23-0 and advance to its first-ever semifinals in a Class AAAAAA quarterfinal matchup Friday night at Mill Creek Community Stadium.
8:58AM ( 58 minutes ago )
Class A Public: Road warrior Tigers march back into semifinals
The road keeps on getting longer -- and Commerce football is enjoying every second of the ride.
By AccessWDUN Staff
8:57AM ( 59 minutes ago )
(VIDEO) Class AAA: Dawson's magical run ended by BT, Shelton
Dawson County football will never forget a magical 2015 football season.
8:56AM ( 1 hour ago )