More to know about Georgia Tech’s 19th bowl trip in the past 20 years, to the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
Pipeline from Jacksonville
Georgia Tech has gained a recruiting foothold in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. Cornerbacks Step Durham and Lamont Simmons, linebacker Victor Alexander and defensive end Antonio Simmons are from Jacksonville, as was former A-back Lynn Griffin, who left the team midway through the season. The area recruiter is A-backs coach Lamar Owens, who has developed strong ties in the area.
The trip could prove beneficial for Tech from a visibility perspective. Coach Paul Johnson has sometimes voiced his frustration with the benefit he perceives that teams gain when they come to Atlanta to play in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.
Tickets available through the Tech ticket office are $85 in the lower level and $125 for club seats. The TaxSlayer Bowl website is also selling upper-level and end-zone seats for $58.75. Monday morning, upper-level seats were as low as $40 on StubHub.
Tech and Kentucky had two common opponents, Vanderbilt and Georgia. Tech was 2-0 against the Commodores and Bulldogs, winning 38-7 and 28-27, respectively. The Wildcats were 1-1, beating Vanderbilt 20-13 and losing to Georgia 27-24. Tech coaches got a taste of Kentucky, as they reviewed the Kentucky-Georgia game as part of their preparations for the Bulldogs.
“They really had every opportunity to win that game and probably should have won it,” Johnson said. “I know that they’re going to be a tough out, a really good team to play, so our guys are just excited that we have another opportunity to play in Jacksonville.”
This will be Tech’s eighth appearance in the TaxSlayer/Gator Bowl, which will make it the bowl game that Tech has played in most frequently. The Orange and TaxSlayer/Gator were in a tie at seven.
After those two games, the Sugar Bowl is third at four, followed by the Sun Bowl at three appearances and then the Carquest/Champs Sports Bowl (now Russell Athletic) and Humanitarian Bowl (now Famous Idaho Potato) at two.
The game will be played at 11 a.m. on December 31 on ESPN and will be played concurrently with the Citrus Bowl, which will be a matchup of No. 13 Louisville and No. 20 LSU. With two ranked teams in the other game, it probably means that, at first, Tech-Kentucky won’t get as many viewers, but an entertaining game would likely change that.
It will serve as a lead-in for the day’s College Football Playoff semifinals, No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Washington in the Peach Bowl at 3:30 p.m. and No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State at 7 p.m.
Monday morning, the least expensive flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville leaving Dec. 29 (a Thursday) and returning Jan. 1 cost $323, according to Kayak. A Dec. 30-Jan. 1 round trip was $323.
It’s about a 350-mile drive down I-75. Google Maps estimates that it’s about 101 hours by foot. Most of it is on US-23, which starts in Jacksonville, goes through Atlanta and ends in Mackinaw City, Mich.