NCF Nation: sun-bowl-2012

Instant analysis: Ga. Tech 21, USC 7

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
6:26
PM ET
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.

Sun Bowl predictions

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
9:30
AM ET
The Pac-12 is 2-3 with three games remaining this bowl season. Yuck.

Up next is the Hyundai Sun Bowl pitting USC against Georgia Tech (2 p.m. ET, CBS).

After Ted Miller correctly picked Texas to beat Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl, he moved one-up on Kevin Gemmell with a 68-27 record.

Kevin Gemmell: Is anyone else getting the impression that USC just wants to put 2012 behind them and move on? Still, the Trojans have far more talent than Georgia Tech on both sides of the ball and Max Wittek showed enough against Notre Dame that leads me to believe the Trojans should win. He’s not going to throw it in because this is his audition for next season. It’s been a bad start to the bowl season for the conference. But this is one that shouldn’t get away. Having a healthy Marqise Lee would be nice. But even if he can't go, the Trojan receivers should enjoy a nice game against a Georgia Tech defense that doesn’t get much pressure and doesn’t defend the pass particularly well. USC 41, Georgia Tech 27.

Ted Miller: Does USC, losers of four of five, care enough to show up with a focused effort today? That's the real question here. The Trojans are three touchdowns better than the Yellow Jackets, but that could said of a couple of teams the Trojans lost to this year. Slowing down Georgia Tech's option attack is all about assignment football. It's not the sort of thing an unfocused team does well. QB Matt Barkley will be in street clothes on the sidelines, so Max Wittek has a chance to step up and claim the pole position at QB for next fall. There seems to be some question about the health of Lee. The Yellow Jackets have their own problems, having lost strong safety Isaiah Johnson to a knee injury. I think USC fans should be plenty nervous about another embarrassing performance, but I'm going with the Trojans. Reluctantly. USC 30, Georgia Tech 24.

Hyundai Sun Bowl

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
10:41
PM ET
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.

Georgia Tech to Hyundai Sun Bowl

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
8:43
PM ET
Georgia Tech got a doozy of a bowl assignment Sunday night -- a matchup with USC in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas.

The game will kick off at 2 p.m. ET on CBS.

The Yellow Jackets will make their 16th consecutive postseason bowl appearance, tying for the fourth-longest current streak nationally. Tech will also make its second straight trip to El Paso, where last season the Jackets lost to Utah, 30-27, in overtime.

Georgia Tech (6-7) is coming off a 21-15 loss to Florida State in the Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game on Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C. The Yellow Jackets qualified for a bowl game despite after being granted a waiver by the NCAA.

"Our players and coaches are excited about earning another bowl bid and for the opportunity to play a traditionally powerful team in Southern California,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said in a statement. "The hospitality shown to us last year by the Sun Bowl and the people of El Paso was fantastic.

"We know we will face a huge challenge in the game. USC has talented players across the board and Coach (Lane) Kiffin will have his team well-prepared, I’m sure."

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