ATLANTA — Georgia Tech has a tradition of being in BCS bowls. Though their recent destinations make that fact seem like ancient history.
Beginning with an 8-7 win over California in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1929, 11 of Georgia Tech's first 12 postseason appearances came in games now considered to be major BCS bowls.
Lately, the Yellow Jackets and their fans bowl have traveled to postseason sites including Boise, Jacksonville, San Jose and Seattle.
However, Georgia Tech is back in the postseason big time.
The Yellow Jackets opened practice on Monday for their first Orange Bowl appearance in more than 40 years.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was Florida's quarterback when the Gators beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1967. That was Georgia Tech's last visit to one of the traditional major bowls.
Paul Johnson's No. 9 Yellow Jackets are hoping to end another streak — four straight bowl losses — when they play Iowa in the Jan. 5 Orange Bowl.
LSU crushed Georgia Tech 38-3 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last year. The streak also includes losses in the Humanitarian, Gator and Emerald bowls.
Georgia Tech played against LSU as if it were still celebrating a drought-breaking win over Georgia to end its regular season. Johnson said if that criticism was true, Georgia Tech should have ample inspiration against Iowa after suffering a 30-24 loss to Georgia this season.
"Maybe this year after the Georgia game they'll be feeling so bad they'll approach it differently," Johnson said on Monday.
Georgia Tech (11-2) recovered from the loss to Georgia to beat Clemson 39-34 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on Dec. 5.
Johnson says his players did not list winning a bowl game as one of its goals before the 2008 season. That changed this year, when a bowl win made the list of preseason goals.
"The biggest difference I would think from a mindset standpoint was last year on that goal board it didn't say anything about winning a bowl game," Johnson said. "Now certainly we wanted to win. But that was one of the things they talked about this year, winning a bowl game, so I know it's a goal."
Added Johnson: "I don't think any of these players here have won a bowl game, so I think that's a big deal to them. I think they'll prepare to go play."
The first meeting between Georgia Tech and Iowa will test the Yellow Jackets' highly ranked offense against Iowa's stout defense.
Georgia Tech ranks second in the nation with its average of 307.2 yards rushing and ranks 11th with 442.7 total yards per game. Iowa (10-2) ranks 11th in the nation in total defense and 10th in scoring defense, allowing only 15.5 points per game.
After LSU shut down Johnson's spread option offense, the coach heard the criticism that his scheme can be stopped when opposing coaches have more than a week to prepare for the attack.
"Anytime you're doing anything different there are so many fallacies out there," Johnson said. "That just kind of fit into what everybody wants to believe, that if you have a long time to get ready, you can do this or that. ... I think people can push things and twist them to whatever they want to believe. We didn't play well and they did. That was the bottom line."