ATLANTA, Ga. — Georgia Tech began the season with hopes of playing in the Bowl Championship Series. Instead, the Yellow Jackets settled for a spot Wednesday in the inaugural Seattle Bowl.
The Yellow Jackets (7-4) will meet Stanford (8-2), ranked No. 12 but only fourth in the Pacific-10, at Safeco Field on Dec. 27.
"We wanted to play a quality opponent," quarterback George Godsey said. "We didn't want to play a team that squeaked in. They are definitely a team that's deserving of one of the top bowls."
Georgia Tech was expected to contend for a top-level bowl. Most starters returned from last year's 9-3 team, and the Yellow Jackets were ranked 10th at the start of the season.
But they lost to Clemson and Maryland in overtime, then fell to Virginia in the final minute of regulation on a trick play. Any hope of a New Year's Day bowl ended last weekend with a 31-17 loss to Georgia.
The Gator Bowl gave its Atlantic Coast Conference spot to Florida State, which plays host to the Yellow Jackets on Saturday in the regular-season finale.
"We wanted to go to one of the BCS bowls," running back Sean Gregory admitted. "But going to a bowl is prestigious in itself. Not many teams get to do it."
Georgia Tech would have preferred to remain closer to campus. But the hometown Peach Bowl wasn't an option - the Yellow Jackets played in that game last year - and the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla., decided to wait until this weekend to make its ACC choice.
Athletic director Dave Braine thought it was prudent to accept Seattle's invitation instead of waiting for a better offer - and possibly getting shut out.
"I think the kids deserve a reward for what they had to go through this year," Braine said.
The bowl guarantees $750,000 to each school, but the Atlantic Coast Conference will boost Georgia Tech's share to $1.1 million to help handle the cost of a West Coast trip.
"We're not going to lose money," Braine said. "We're probably not going to make much either."
Georgia Tech has to pay for 7,500 tickets at $50 apiece, knowing it will not be able to sell the allotment. Braine hopes to take advantage of alumni totaling nearly 1,500 in the Seattle area.
"If we could sell 4,000 tickets, I'd be very happy," he said. "We're going to ask our alumni base to help."
Georgia Tech will be making its fifth straight bowl appearance, its longest streak since a six-game run from 1951-56.
"We had some tough games that we'd like to have back," coach George O'Leary said. "The players have worked extremely hard. Things didn't work out like we wanted, but it's not because they didn't work hard enough. They deserve to be in a bowl."
The Seattle Bowl will be the first sports event other than baseball at Safeco Field, home of the Mariners. The game, formerly the Oahu Bowl, was moved from Honolulu because of poor attendance.
Most Georgia Tech players have never been to the Northwest.
"All I know is the latte from the commercials," Godsey said. "I don't even like coffee, but I may have to take one with Ichiro."
The senior quarterback is also familiar with the area's music scene.
"I know Nirvana and Pearl Jam are from there," Godsey said, smiling. "Maybe I can find those guys from Pearl Jam and hang out with them."
The Yellow Jackets have met Stanford only once before, winning 18-17 in the 1991 Aloha Bowl. O'Leary was Tech's defensive coordinator in that game.
Stanford has a game remaining this week at San Jose State. The Cardinal are tied for second place in the Pac-10 with Washington and Washington State, but became the conference's fourth-place team because of losses to those two schools.