The guys at BCI intrigued me with a little ranking system of their past 10 bowl opponents
. I wanted to gauge the average Tech fan's excitement over playing the Falcons and also see what the consensus on how tough an opponent the Falcons will be. Here are the toughest opponents we've met in a bowl game since 2001:#9 - Tulsa ('04 Humanitarian Bowl)
Tech defeated the Golden Hurricanes 52-10. I vaguely remember prophesying on ESPN message boards that Tech would run all over the Tulsa defense. They were giving up 183 yards per game coming in to the game and had been destroyed by Arkansas and Minnesota at the outset of the season. P.J. Daniels rushed for 307 yards, setting a new bowl record, and the rest was history. Yakub2
and myself still call an uber ass-kicking "being Tulsa-ed." The only guy drafted from Tulsa was the QB James Kilian (in the 7th round).#8 - Syracuse ('04 Champs Sports Bowl)
Perry Patterson and the Orangemen were supposed to be alright. After Reggie Ball finished a career day in Orlando, the Orangemen had given up 514 yards to Chan Gailey's relatively stagnant offense. Nine days after the bowl game, they fired their head coach
#6 & #7 - Fresno State ('02 Silicon Valley Classic & '07 Humanitarian Bowl)
Fresno coincidentally was the opponent for Chan Gailey's first bowl game and the remnants of Gailey's staff coaching in their final game together. And since Pat Hill has been at Fresno, the Dogs have beaten 4 out of 5 East Coast opponents. The 2002 game against Fresno was kind of a foreshadow of Gailey's ultimate failure. His poor in-game management and poor player management skills were brought to the forefront as he was constantly rotating A.J. Suggs and Damarius Bilbo. Tech quarterbacks threw 6 INTERCEPTIONS in this 30-21 loss. The 2007 game was just awful. That game is what it looks like when a lifetime defensive coordinator becomes offensive coordinator for a day. Tech lost 40-28.#5 - Stanford ('01 Seattle Bowl)
I think a lot of people forget that Stanford was ranked as high as #11 coming into this game. Tech played a truly inspired game after losing Coach O'Leary to Notre Dame 18 days before the bowl game. Mac McWhorter's only game as a head coach
in his 30 year collegiate career resulted in a 24-14 GT victory.#4 - Utah ('05 Emerald Nut Bowl)
Utah fans consider this game the rebirth of the Utes after Urban Meyer left
. Tech was outplayed big time. Travis LaTendresse caught 16 passes for 214 yards for the Utes. His four touchdown receptions tied the bowl record for TD receptions in a bowl game. Eric Weddle
was probably the best one on one match up Calvin Johnson ever saw at Georgia Tech. The play of the game, for me, was in the 1st quarter on a 4th and 2. Reggie Ball dropped back, slipped in the mud, and sacked himself. The game was over from then on as Tech fell 38-10.
#3 - LSU ('08 Peach Bowl)
This game was like watching Rohan Davey's ghost. Tech was pretty futile committing 3 turnovers and failing to convert 4 fourth down attempts. LSU was given the ball on the Tech side of the 50 four times and converted three touchdowns and a field goal on all four attempts. Tech only scored a field goal in the 38-3 loss (Paul Johnson
's lowest offensive output since 2006). Did I mention the Tigers have had 6 of 11 defensive starters drafted off of this bowl team?#2 - West Virginia ('07 Gator Bowl)
Despite the loss, I think most Tech fans would agree that this was the best effort they had seen from Tech in a bowl game since George O'Leary was head coach. I like to believe that Tech and West Virginia were destined to meet before the season started. The Big East Champion and ACC Champion were slated for the 2007 Orange Bowl. Instead of Pat White versus Calvin Johnson, however, we saw Riley Skinner versus Brian Brohm
[sad face]. The 'Neers averaged 39 points/game and 463 yards/game. They also had an awful pass defense giving Taylor Bennett some room to work in his second ever career start. Tech ultimately lost 38-35 giving up 311 yards rushing in the process. Two running backs, a fullback, and the quarterback from this West Virginia backfield found homes on NFL rosters.#1 - Iowa ('10 Orange Bowl)
The offensive line got pushed around. Our running backs didn't break a single tackle. Our defense made a pedestrian offense look All-Big 10. The Iowa Hawkeye defense was arguably the best singular unit we've faced in a bowl since either the 1999 Miami Hurricane defense or the 2006 West Virginia offense. Tech lost 24-14 and the Hawkeyes have already had three guys drafted off of this defense and look to have three to four more taken in the 2011 Draft.
What do you all think? Where do you think Air Force will rank amongst these teams after the bowl game is played?