ATLANTA - Georgia Tech's 9-6 loss to Wake Forest in the Dec. 2 Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Jacksonville, Fla., was so disappointing that tailback Tashard Choice can hardly talk about it, much less bring himself to look at the game film.
"I probably won't watch that game until I leave college," the junior said Monday.
Choice hopes the Yellow Jackets' repeat trip to Jacksonville - the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl game against West Virginia - will be more worthy of video review.
Certainly, Georgia Tech's season is in need of positive punctuation.
The Yellow Jackets (9-4) have failed twice to win their 10th game, losing by three points to Georgia and Wake Forest. Now comes the much-anticipated New Year's Day bowl game in a warm setting.
Georgia Tech players now say they weren't excited about last year's bowl trip to San Francisco, and the lack of enthusiasm showed in the 38-10 Emerald Bowl loss to Utah. Georgia Tech had a 2004 trip to Orlando for the Champs Sports Bowl, but otherwise it has been shipped west for such bowl destinations as the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho; the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif.; and the Seattle Bowl in the past five years.
"We weren't really that pleased to be out in San Francisco across the country," fullback Mike Cox said. "This is a great bowl, a Jan. 1 bowl. It's going to be on national television on a day when people want to watch football. Jacksonville is a great area, and we'll have a lot of support."
Georgia Tech players wanted to earn an Orange Bowl trip by winning the ACC championship game. Still, winning the ACC's Coastal Division sent the Yellow Jackets to a challenging match-up against West Virginia's explosive offense, led by tailback Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White.
"We want to send the seniors off right," Cox said. "We won our division in the ACC, which is a good step. Winning this bowl game will get us off on the right foot for next season.
"Last year, losing the bowl game put a bad taste in our mouths. Winning this one would mean a lot for us and for our seniors."
A win over No. 13 West Virginia (10-2) would give Tech its first 10-win season since 1998 and would save players from having to spend the offseason hearing about three consecutive losses. A win also would provide momentum for the 2007 season.
"Personally, and I think I speak on behalf of the rest of the team, this is really big to get back on track for the off-season," defensive end Adamm Oliver said.
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