“We hear about the SEC a lot,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said.
Knowing about the SEC is one thing. Beating an SEC team is another. The Yellow Jackets blew a 20-7 halftime lead before losing their last game 41-34 to Georgia in double overtime, and they go into the Music City Bowl on Monday having lost six straight bowls to current SEC teams in a skid that goes back to 1960. The last time Georgia Tech played Ole Miss, the Rebels won the 1971 Peach Bowl.
So Johnson said the key for Georgia Tech is focusing on how good the Rebels are no matter what league they play in.
“If they were from a conference from Mars, you look at the tape they’re pretty good ...,” Johnson said. “You’d like to think they’re going to play hard because they watched the tape, looked at it and realize the other team is pretty good and know if we’re not going to play hard and play well we’ll get pounded.”
The Yellow Jackets (7-5) have lost two of their last three games. Ole Miss (7-5) lost its last two, including a 17-10 overtime loss to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl to drop the Rebels out of the Top 25. Rebels coach Hugh Freeze can cap his second season with a second straight bowl victory. Freeze also is very impressed by Georgia Tech playing in its 17th straight bowl, the second-longest such streak in the nation.
“You want to be in those games,” Freeze said.
This is the first time Georgia Tech has played in the bowl sponsored by Franklin American Mortgage Company. Ole Miss has sold more than 13,000 tickets and counting in a town where the Rebels won the SEC men’s basketball tournament back in March.