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Georgia Tech claims spot in ACC title game at 6-5

Associated Press Modified: November 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm •  Published: November 19, 2012
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ATLANTA (AP) — A team that was routed at home by Middle Tennessee and fired its defensive coordinator at midseason will get a chance to play for a BCS bowl bid.

Georgia Tech (6-5) automatically claimed a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on Monday when Miami self-imposed a postseason ban for the second straight year, looking to lessen the sanctions from an NCAA investigation into its compliance practices.

The Hurricanes (7-4) could have clinched the Coastal Division title with a victory over Duke, which would leave both Miami and the Yellow Jackets with 5-3 conference records. The Hurricanes were positioned to win the tiebreaker since they defeated Georgia Tech 42-36 on Sept. 22.

Now, it doesn't matter. By banning itself from the bowls, Miami is ineligible to play in the Dec. 1 title game at Charlotte, N.C.

"It's a great opportunity," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said after practice. "I'm proud of our guys. They won four conference games in a row, two of them on the road. It's a case of persevering and just keep playing."

Early on, the Yellow Jackets struggled. They gave up late leads to Virginia Tech and Miami, losing both games in overtime. There also was that embarrassing 49-28 defeat to Middle Tennessee, which came in the midst of Georgia Tech giving up more than 40 points in three straight games for the first time in school history.

With his team at 2-4 after a 47-31 loss to Clemson, Johnson fired defensive coordinator Al Groh, saying the defense was too complicated and the players weren't sure of their assignments.

"We had a couple of disappointing losses at the beginning of the season, and we let it mushroom on us," Johnson said. "It was good to bounce back."

The defense continues to struggle but Georgia Tech has won three in a row overall, mostly on the legs of its explosive triple-option offense. The Yellow Jackets defeated North Carolina 68-50 two weeks ago, knocked off Duke 42-24 last Saturday and are averaging 38.6 points per game, which ranks 16th nationally. As usual, the run-oriented team ranks near the top of the country in rushing yards (third at 324.9, trailing only Army and Air Force).

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