Sunday, December 4, 2011
Hyundai Sun Bowl
By By Heather Dinich and Ted Miller
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-4) vs. Utah Utes (7-5)
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET (CBS)
Georgia Tech take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: Georgia Tech, which has the nation’s No. 3 rushing offense, will face the No. 7 rushing defense when it plays Utah in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. It will be Georgia Tech’s 15th consecutive bowl appearance, but the first time in the Sun Bowl since beating Texas Tech there in 1970. Despite its consistent appearances in the postseason, Georgia Tech hasn’t fared well recently, and will be trying to snap a string of six straight bowl losses. Georgia Tech got off to a surprising 6-0 start, but faltered down the stretch and enters the bowl game having lost four of its past six games, including a 31-17 loss to rival Georgia. With only 10 scholarship seniors on the roster, it’s a young team, but the Jackets still lead the ACC in rushing offense (316.8 yards per game), total offense (459.6) and scoring offense (34.9). Georgia Tech’s biggest problems offensively have come when its trailing and is forced to throw the ball more than it would like. Defensively, Georgia Tech has been average at best in the second season under coordinator Al Groh. The Jackets are allowing 25.75 points per game, but Utah has struggled offensively and ranks No. 110 in the country in total offense.
Utah take by Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller: Utah had two seasons and a yeesh in its first year of Pac-12 play. Actually, you could make that three seasons if you wanted to, considering the Utes joined California, Stanford and USC as the only conference teams to be perfect in nonconference play. Utah started its conference slate, however, 0-4, and there was a wee bit of crowing from the old guard Pac-10 about the Utes being in over their heads, no matter that starting quarterback Jordan Wynn was lost for the season with a shoulder injury in the Game 4 against Washington. But after getting crunched at California, Utah righted itself and reeled off four consecutive wins. Suddenly, the Utes were in the middle of the South Division race.
What made the difference was stout defense, great production from running back John White and steady if unspectacular play from quarterback Jon Hays. It became clear that if Utah didn't make a bunch of turnovers, it had a chance against anybody. As it turned out, all Utah needed to do on the final weekend of the regular season was beat lowly Colorado. UCLA and Arizona State would both lose their final games, which was how the Utes would ascend into the top spot. This, as you know, became the "yeesh." Colorado ended a 24-game road losing streak with a 17-14 win.
Still, the Utes made it clear they can complete. Now they are headed to a bowl that's one rung better in the Pac-12 pecking order than the destination for the Mountain West Conference champ, the Las Vegas Bowl.