USC Trojans: Sun Bowl 2012

Instant Analysis: Ga. Tech 21, USC 7

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
3:19
PM PT
Georgia Tech scored a 21-7 upset victory over the USC Trojans in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Yellow Jackets got good production from the quarterback spot -- Tevin Washington and Vad Lee both threw touchdown passes and Washington added a scoring run -- and a strong defense to get the win.

Game was over when: Jamal Golden intercepted a Max Wittek pass at the goal line with just over a minute left. The score was 21-7 in favor of Georgia Tech, but the Trojans had driven the ball for a late scoring attempt before the Wittek pass was tipped by Quayshawn Nealy into the arms of Golden. Golden also had a key punt return in the third quarter while Nealy had an end-zone interception of his own earlier in the fourth quarter.

Game ball goes to: Georgia Tech's defense, a unit that gave up 30 points per game and was facing a USC offense that came in averaging over 34 points per game. The Yellow Jackets held the Trojans to a touchdown, and the only opponent to score fewer points this year against Georgia Tech was the Presbyterian Blue Hose, who scored a field goal. USC came into game averaging over 450 total yards per game and was held to 205. The Yellow Jackets limited 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee to six catches for 41 yards.

Stat of the game: USC's inability to convert. The Trojans were 3-of-16 on third- and fourth-down conversion attempts. That includes a stretch of six consecutive drives to begin the second half that were either three-and-out or turned over on downs.

What Georgia Tech learned: What it feels like to win a bowl game for the first time in eight years. The Yellow Jackets had lost seven straight bowl games prior to Monday's win.

What USC learned: That the 2012 season was disappointing to the end.

Hyundai Sun Bowl primer

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
5:30
AM PT
Who to watch: This could be another national showcase for USC wide receiver Marqise Lee to prove that he is the most dynamic player in the country. Lee won the Biletnikoff Award winner and was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year after a season which saw him set a conference mark for catches (112 -- the leading total nationally) and receiving yards (1,680). He also led the conference in kickoff return yardage. Lee left USC practice early on Saturday with an undisclosed leg injury and did not return but is expected to play in the game.

What to watch: The most compelling matchup should be the USC defense against the Georgia Tech “flexbone” triple-option offense. The Trojans have struggled in 2012 against various versions of the option, and Tech executes its run-based version at a very high level -- it was No. 4 in the nation with more than 312 rushing yards per game. The Yellow Jackets have a talented senior at quarterback in Tevin Washington, and he has an impressive 19 touchdowns on the ground. Look for USC senior safety T.J. McDonald to be very aggressive near the line of scrimmage in run support.

Why to watch: There have been a lot of questions about how motivated the Trojans would be for the Sun Bowl after a disappointing 7-5 season following their preseason No. 1 ranking. That perception was helped by some disparaging player tweets toward the host city of El Paso, Texas, and a late arrival to a bowl dinner. USC coach Lane Kiffin has preached to his team for the need to stay focused on the game, and the performance of his team will show how well that message was received. Georgia Tech is certainly an opponent that is capable of taking advantage of any lack of game readiness.

Prediction: USC 31, Georgia Tech 21

At the end of the day, the Trojans will simply make more plays than the Yellow Jackets. Lee isn’t the only playmaker on the USC offense, there are guys such as Robert Woods, Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal who can explode at any time. This could be the final college game for Woods, who will announce after the game if he is leaving school early for the NFL draft. The Trojans will enter the game without Matt Barkley, who will sit out with a shoulder injury, but Max Wittek can get the ball downfield with his strong arm. Georgia Tech A-back Orwin Smith will help keep things close for the Yellow Jackets. He has missed the last two games with an ankle injury but is averaging over nine yards per carry this season.

Georgia Tech: By the numbers

December, 28, 2012
12/28/12
9:00
AM PT
4: Ranking of Georgia Tech’s rushing offense
Georgia Tech’s intricate spread-option offense has been incredibly productive on the ground this season, compiling an average of 312.5 yards rushing per game. Running for a total of 4,063 yards, the Yellow Jackets have hit the 300-yard plateau on eight separate occasions.

9.4: The career yards-per-carry average of Georgia Tech A-Back Orwin Smith
Smith’s mark is the highest by any active FBS player with at least 1,000 yards to his credit. He’s averaging 9.0 yards per carry in 2012, and he leads the Yellow Jackets in rushing with 673 yards.

16: The number of consecutive seasons where Georgia Tech has earned a berth in a bowl game
When they line up against the Trojans on Dec. 31, it will mark the sixteenth straight year that the Yellow Jackets have participated in a bowl game -- the fourth-longest current such streak in the nation. Recently, however, they haven’t had the best of luck in their postseason clashes, losing seven bowl games in a row, including all four under current head coach Paul Johnson.

19: The number of rushing touchdowns accumulated by Yellow Jackets’ quarterback Tevin Washington in 2012
Washington’s mark is a Georgia Tech and ACC single-season record for a quarterback. He’s also compiled 37 touchdowns on the ground in 35 career games, another team and conference record.

47: Ranking of Georgia Tech’s rushing defense, the highest the team ranks in any defensive statistical category
The Yellow Jackets have not been particularly stellar on the defensive side of the ball in 2012, also ranking No. 54 in total defense, No. 67 in pass defense and No. 77 in scoring defense.

Watch: Barkley won't play in Sun Bowl

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
2:14
PM PT

Mark May and Lou Holtz discuss Matt Barkley's disappointing season at USC.

Video: Hyundai Sun Bowl preview

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
11:06
AM PT

USC's Marqise Lee squares off against Georgia Tech's triple option attack in El Paso, Texas, for the 2012 Sun Bowl.

Hyundai Sun Bowl

December, 3, 2012
12/03/12
7:58
AM PT
USC Trojans (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7)

Dec. 31, 2 p.m., El Paso, Texas (CBS)

USC take by WeAreSC's Garry Paskwietz: It wasn’t the bowl scenario USC envisioned when the 2012 season began, but it offers the Trojans a chance to end the disappointing year on a good note.

One of the big storylines will be the status of senior quarterback Matt Barkley, who sat out the regular-season finale against Notre Dame with an injured shoulder. It remains to be seen if he will be able to play in the bowl game.

Barkley is the Pac-12 career leader in passing yardage (12,327) and touchdowns (116). Max Wittek got the start against the Irish in Barkley’s place and performed well enough to have USC fans talking optimistically about his role next season.

No matter who is at quarterback, they will have Marqise Lee and Robert Woods to throw to, and the pair is as good as it gets. Lee set the Pac-12 single season receptions mark this season with 112 catches to go along with 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is a candidate for the Heisman Trophy and the Biletnikoff Award. Woods set the USC career receptions mark this season, and currently has 249.

On the other hand, it was a season to forget for the Trojans defense. Not a single USC defender earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors and the unit gave up so many points (24.6 per game) and yards (396 per game) that Monte Kiffin announced his resignation effective after the bowl game. T.J. McDonald and Wes Horton are among the seniors who will be playing their final game for the Trojans.

The Trojans finished the regular season 7-5 overall, 5-4 in the Pac-12.




Georgia Tech take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: Georgia Tech needed a bowl-eligibility waiver from the NCAA just to play in this bowl game. That pretty much sums up how good the Jackets were (or weren’t) this year.

Because Miami self-imposed a postseason ban, Georgia Tech backed into the Dr Pepper ACC championship game, which it lost 21-15 on Saturday to Florida State. It wasn’t for a lack of effort -- Georgia Tech was in position to actually win the game and play in the Discover Orange Bowl, as it had the ball and a chance at a game-winning scoring drive on its final possession late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Tevin Washington threw an interception with about a minute remaining, though, and that sealed the Jackets’ postseason fate, dropping them to 6-7 and making that waiver of the utmost importance.

Georgia Tech dug itself into such a deep hole this season, it seemed an improbable candidate to win the Coastal Division, let alone play in a bowl game. The Jackets were 2-4, had lost a miserable home game to Middle Tennessee, and had just one ACC win heading into the bye week, when coach Paul Johnson decided to fire defensive coordinator Al Groh. While the move didn’t magically fix the Jackets’ defense, it did spark enough of a turnaround to keep the season from unraveling entirely. Georgia Tech won four of its next five games to cling to hopes of winning the division. Of course, it couldn’t have done it without the assist from Miami. Now Georgia Tech is looking for its first bowl win under Johnson (0-4), and will have to go back to El Paso, Texas, for the second straight season to try and find it. Unfortunately for the Jackets, they’ll have to do it against USC.

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