Pac-12: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

We already gave you a rough idea of returning starters in the Pac-12, one of the most popular -- and often inaccurate -- ways to measure teams for the upcoming season. But Colorado's indefatigable SID David Plati decided to go deeper.

You can see his chart here.

Plati reviewed how many total career starts FBS teams had returning in 2013, as well as returning 2012 starts.

Here are the Pac-12 teams with more than 250 starts coming back.
8. Washington State 359 (149 offense, 166 defense, 44 K/P)

9. Colorado 345 (149 offense, 146 defense, 50 P/K)

11. USC 338 (166 offense, 147 defense, 25 P/K)

13. Oregon State 329 (155 offense, 136 defense, 38 P/K)

24. UCLA 278 (144 offense, 120 defense, 14 P/K)

29. Arizona State (102 offense, 154 defense, 12 P/k)

Georgia Tech is No. 1 with 426 starts returning.

In terms of 2012 starts exclusively, Colorado is fourth (228), Washington State sixth (217) and Oregon State is seventh (216) in the nation. USC is 10th (205), Arizona State is 15th (199) and UCLA is 18th (195).

The take-away?

Well, you don't want to read into returning starters too much -- more often quality is far more valuable than quantity -- but this would suggest USC shouldn't be dismissed too quickly from the South Division race, though the numbers for UCLA and Arizona State are also good.

Further, this is some grounds for optimism among Washington State and Colorado fans. Lots of young guys who got pushed around last year are coming back a year older and, hopefully, a year stronger.

Finally, this could fuel the idea that Oregon State might be a legitimate challenger -- even more so than Washington -- to the dynamic duo of Stanford and Oregon in the North Division.

Best/Worst of the Pac-12 bowl season

January, 10, 2013
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We're taking a look at the best and worst of the Pac-12 bowl season.

Best player, offense: Washington RB Bishop Sankey was the best player on the field in the Huskies' 28-26 defeat in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. He gained 205 yards on 30 carries with a TD. He also caught six passes for 74 yards, giving him 279 of Washington's 447 yards from scrimmage.

Best player, defense: Arizona State DT Will Sutton had 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss in the Sun Devils' 62-28 domination of Navy.

Best player, special teams: De'Anthony Thomas' 94-yard return of the opening kickoff of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl set the tone for Oregon's 35-17 triumph over Kansas State. We'll also slip in that his 23-yard TD on a screen pass was perhaps even more spectacular.

Best game: It's still difficult to wrap one's mind around Arizona's comeback against Nevada in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. The Wolf Pack led 48-35 with 1:48 remaining, but the Wildcats scored two touchdowns and recovered an onside kick in the final 46 seconds to steal a 49-48 victory. Arizona trailed 21-0 in the first quarter and was down 45-28 entering the final period, but still won.

Worst game: USC's 21-7 loss to a Georgia Tech team with seven defeats in the Hyundai Sun Bowl was not only the worst performance of the Pac-12's bowl season, it was the worst bowl performance in USC history. The Trojans, the preseason No. 1 team, managed to gain just 205 yards against a bad defense, one that had been shredded in a 49-28 loss to Middle Tennessee.

Best play: Arizona linebacker Marquis Flowers recovered the onside kick that set up the Wildcats' go-ahead drive against Nevada. He also grabbed the interception with 13 seconds left that ended the high drama.

Best goal-line stand: Stanford dominated Wisconsin's offense in the second half of the Rose Bowl, but that wasn't the case in the second quarter, when the Badgers scored 14 points and were gashing the Cardinal. Gashing, other than one critical play. On fourth-and-goal at the Stanford 1-yard line, Badgers RB James White was stonewalled by DE Ben Gardner.

Worst play: Baylor led UCLA 14-0, but UCLA looked poised to make a defensive stop in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl. The Bears faced a third-and-9 from their 45-yard line. UCLA decided to blitz, and Bears QB Nick Florence made them pay with a 55-yard TD pass to Tevin Reese. It was a beautiful pass and catch for Baylor. But it was a crushing blow to the Bruins, who never mounted much of a challenge the rest of the evening.

Best stat(s): Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly was nearly perfect against Navy. He completed 17 of 19 passes for 277 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. That's a pass efficiency rating of 277.43. Alabama's AJ McCarron led the nation with a pass efficiency rating of 175.28 this season. Oh, and Kelly also rushed for 81 yards on seven carries -- 11.6 yards per rush -- and a TD.

Best stat(s) II: Stanford's defense shut out Wisconsin in the second half of the Rose Bowl, holding the Badgers to just four first downs and 82 total yards, including 13 yards rushing from All-American RB Montee Ball.

Worst stat: UCLA's feckless performance against Baylor was best summed up by the Bruins going 1-for-17 on third downs. That's bad against any defense, but making matters worse is this: Baylor ranked 119th in the nation in third-down conversions allowed.

Crazy stat: Texas' defense posted an Alamo Bowl-record 10 sacks for minus-81 yards against Oregon State. Alex Okafor alone set a bowl record with 4.5 sacks. Here's a guess that Beavers fans were wondering how a team that gave up 23 sacks in its previous 12 games couldn't make an adjustment, because Okafor doesn't rank in the top five of defensive linemen/outside linebackers Oregon State faced during the regular season.

Final Pac-12 2012 power rankings

January, 8, 2013
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These are the final 2012 power rankings.

If you don't like where you finished in the power rankings, you should have played better.

See the pre-bowl-season power rankings here.

1. Stanford: Oregon received a higher final national ranking, and you could make a decent challenge in favor of the Ducks. They didn't get upset by Washington, didn't play a lot of close games and beat a top-five team in the Fiesta Bowl. But, on Nov. 17, the Cardinal went to Eugene and took care of business. Stanford is the Pac-12 champion, and Oregon is not. Ergo, Stanford sits atop the power rankings. And 2013 looks pretty darn good, too.

2. Oregon: The cherry on the top of another special season for Oregon is the return of coach Chip Kelly. And we're of the mind that, if not for the slip against Stanford, Oregon would be sitting atop college football this morning after a fine evening of frolic in South Florida. The Ducks and Stanford will be national title contenders again in 2013. And guess which two teams are going to top the first 2013 power rankings?

3. Oregon State: The loss to Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl was baffling. The Beavers were a superior team that seemed to be looking for ways to lose in the fourth quarter. The quarterback carousel needs to be resolved. But the Beavers still won nine games, and their 6-3 conference record overcomes UCLA because of a head-to-head win on the road. Nice bounce back after consecutive losing seasons.

4. UCLA: Yes, the Bruins flopped in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl against Baylor, but it's impossible not to see Year 1 under Jim Mora as a success, made even more notable by USC's flop. Like last season, the Bruins won the South Division, but this time they earned it.

5. Arizona State: The Sun Devils won their final three games for the first time since 1978. That's how you go into an offseason with optimism. We hear a lot about "culture change" from programs with new coaches. The Sun Devils' culture change under Todd Graham was made manifest by what happened on the field.

6. Arizona: The Wildcats did better than expected in Year 1 under Rich Rodriguez, and the season would have been a complete success if not for what happened against that team from up north. That loss hurts, but quality wins over Oklahoma State, USC and Washington, as well as an overtime game with Stanford, show this team competed better than in recent years.

7. Washington: The Huskies finishing 7-6 against a brutal schedule probably was close to preseason expectations. But the two-game losing streak to end the season, which included a dreadful meltdown in the Apple Cup to Washington State, quashed the momentum a four-game winning steak from Oct. 27 to Nov. 17 had built. Perhaps that will make the Huskies hungrier in 2013, when they have a nice array of talent returning.

8. USC: The Trojans' season was a complete disaster. USC started out at No. 1 but turned in a white flag performance while losing a sixth game in the Hyundai Sun Bowl to a middling Georgia Tech team. The Trojans were eclipsed by rivals UCLA and Notre Dame while wasting the much-ballyhooed return of QB Matt Barkley. Coach Lane Kiffin will be sitting on one of the nation's hottest seats in 2013. We've been over this a few times.

9. Utah: The Utes' move up in class from the Mountain West Conference is proving tougher than some imagined. Utah missed out on playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2002, and there were issues on both sides of the ball. The Utes need an upgrade in talent and overall depth, sure, but consistent quarterback play would be a good place to start. Therein lies hope with promising freshman Travis Wilson.

10. California: A dreadful 3-9 finish ended Jeff Tedford's tenure in Berkeley after 11 seasons. In early October, after consecutive wins over UCLA and Washington State, it seemed as though the Bears might be poised for a rally. Alas, they lost their final five games, including a horrid performance in a 62-14 drubbing at Oregon State. Sonny Dykes has enough returning talent to produce significant improvement in the fall.

11. Washington State: New coach Mike Leach's season was bad on the field and off, but it ended on a notable uptick with an Apple Cup win over Washington that included a comeback from an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit. Still, 3-9 took a bite out of the enthusiasm Leach's hiring initially generated.

12. Colorado: A horrid 1-11 finish that was capped by a controversial firing of Jon Embree after just two seasons. The Buffaloes are probably the worst AQ conference team over the past two seasons, and that is the considerable mess new coach Mike MacIntyre was hired to clean up. Of course, MacIntyre put together an impressive turnaround at San Jose State, so he looks like a good choice to bring the Buffs back to respectability.

Oregon ends Pac-12 season on uptick

January, 4, 2013
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At least two people whispered the unthinkable to me after the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

"That," they said, "was a boring game."

That, I realized after some pondering, is what happens when the superior team plays an outstanding game: 35-17 is what happens when Oregon plays well in all three phases against a good but less talented Kansas State team.

Boring, at least if you're an Oregon fan, is good. It means the guys who were supposed to make plays did.

[+] EnlargeKenjon Barner
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsRunning back Kenjon Barner and Oregon turned in a dominant performance against Kansas State.
All-American playmaker Kenjon Barner? He rushed for 120 of his 143 yards in the second half. Check.

First-team All-Pac-12 quarterback Marcus Mariota? He passed for two scores and ran for another, winning offensive MVP honors. Check.

Fancypants playmaker De'Anthony Thomas? He returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown and turned in a brilliant 23-yard run for a score on a screen pass. Check.

Senior leader and All-Pac-12 linebacker Michael Clay? He led the Ducks with nine tackles, including two for a loss and a sack, winning defensive MVP honors.

And the one thing that folks in other college football regions have too often and ignorantly questioned about the Ducks -- defense -- showed up big-time, holding one of the nation's most potent offenses to 17 points and 283 yards.

Winning in all three phases, including special teams? Check.

If Chip Kelly opts to give the NFL a try, Ducks fans should simply tip their cap to him. He's earned that opportunity by taking a good program and making it great over the past four years.

Stanford, by the way, turned in a much different sort of show against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, but it also was effective. The Cardinal ran the ball and played good defense -- you know: Was all Stanford-y -- and thereby gave the Pac-12 two victories in BCS bowl games.

Those wins on the biggest stages for the conference were a bit of a salve for a mediocre, 4-4 bowl season.

Arizona needed a dramatic -- and really still unbelievable -- rally to nip Nevada. Arizona State was vastly superior to Navy. Both Oregon State and Washington blew games they led in the fourth quarter to Texas and Boise State, respectively. UCLA got bricked by Baylor on both sides of the ball. And USC turned in a humiliating performance against Georgia Tech, one that has Trojans fans lighting torches and marching to Heritage Hall, at least if my mailbag is any indication of sentiments.

The Pac-12 was favored in seven of the eight matchups, Boise State-Washington being the lone exception. So 7-1 was expected, 6-2 would have been solid, and 5-3 defensible. However, 4-4 is simply underwhelming.

The good news is the crowing from other AQ conferences should be muted.

The Big 12 is 4-4 pending the result of the AT&T Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma and Texas A&M on Friday night. The SEC is 3-3, with two of its top-10 teams going down in Florida and LSU. It's got the Cotton Bowl, BBVA Compass Bowl between Ole Miss and Pittsburgh on Saturday, and the national title game between Alabama and Notre Dame on Monday ahead.

If the SEC wins all three of those games, thereby securing a seventh national title, it will make a clear statement of superiority. But one or two slips, even with a national title victory, would nick the SEC's perception of dominant depth.

The funny thing about the bowl season, in fact, is the ACC and Big East roaring like angry puppies. The two most maligned AQ conferences over the past few years (well, other than the 2-5 Big Ten), are a combined 7-3. The ACC, at 4-2, beat LSU (Clemson) and USC (Georgia Tech) on the same day.

So the Pac-12 probably won't be an easy target for trolling. It finished 2-2 against the Big 12 this season -- 1-2 in bowl games, plus Arizona's regular season win against Oklahoma State -- so the potential argument for second best conference is mostly a moot point. The Pac-12 is clearly better at the top. The Big 12 is better at the bottom. And the middle probably goes to the Big 12 after it beat the Beavers and Bruins. Stagger all that however you wish.

More good news: The Pac-12 is well-positioned to take a step forward next year, perhaps even to challenge the SEC.

Oregon and Stanford will be preseason top-10 teams, likely top-five. You could make arguments for preseason rankings for Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and USC. The bottom of the conference also should be better as Colorado couldn't possibly be worse, and Washington State and California surely can find more than three wins in 2013.

Oregon State and UCLA figure to topple when the final rankings come out next week, while Oregon and Stanford will finish in the top-four. No other conference will have two teams ranked higher.

It was a solid season, if a bit top-heavy. It wasn't predictable, which can be viewed as a good thing. USC started the season as the biggest story in college football, and its fall from esteem became an epic tale of woe, inspiring national mockery.

As things set up for 2013, the Pac-12 appears poised to take another step forward in terms of depth.

But will a team rise to the fore and challenge for the national title?

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves on that one.
How can I hurt when I'm with you
Warm, touchin' warm
Reachin' out, touchin' me touchin' you
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good.

Kiffin was the problem in Sun Bowl

January, 1, 2013
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With just a week to prepare for the nation's best defense, USC's backup quarterback Max Wittek played pretty darn well. His performance was encouraging in a 22-13 loss to No. 1 Notre Dame on Nov. 24.

[+] EnlargeLane Kiffin
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/USA TODAY SportsUSC coach Lane Kiffin might want to consider hiring an offensive coordinator next season.
With over a month of preparation for the Sun Bowl, against a Georgia Tech squad that gave up 30 points per game and is the only bowl team with a losing record, Wittek played terribly. He looked lost and overmatched. With additional preparation time and practice reps, he regressed.

That should fall on USC's quarterback's coach.

Wittek wasn't helped by the Trojans play-calling. USC, laden with future NFL players on offense, gained just 205 total yards against a poor-to-middling defense that yielded 510 yards in an 21-point loss to Middle Tennessee State.

That should fall on USC's play caller.

Both are named Lane Kiffin.

The Pac-12 blog doesn't believe Lane Kiffin should be fired after his team produced a season that is, by a handful of objective as well as emotional measures, the most disappointing in college football history, though there are many USC fans who do. And not just the crazy ones.

But USC athletic director Pat Haden needs to make clear to Kiffin a significant part of the problem with the Trojans in 2012 is Kiffin's coaching. He needs Kiffin to agree with him, because that's the only way to receive reassurance that Kiffin isn't deluded.

Haden then needs to insist Kiffin hire an offensive coordinator who also coaches QBs and calls plays.

And, yes, we are repeating ourselves.

If Kiffin argues against that, Haden, a former NFL and USC QB who was also a Rhodes Scholar, needs to pop in a tape of the Sun Bowl and ask Kiffin to defend the performance.

Haden could point to poorly designed plays. He could point to feckless execution. He could point to USC repeatedly running exactly the wrong play into the strength off the Yellow Jackets defense.

There was something so shockingly lacking in USC's offensive performance, I've got $5 bill that says there were multiple times in the huddle when players expressed dismay over the play they were about to run.

Kiffin already will be hiring a new defensive coordinator, as his father, Monte Kiffin, has elected to step aside. Better coordination is the most obvious thing USC needs; it's the most obvious way for the Trojans quality of play to catch up to its superior but presently unharnessed talent.

But it's more than Xs and Os. Kiffin needs to be more focused on his team than on that Denny's menu (yes, I stole that joke from a reader) he buries his nose in during games. He needs to pay more attention to his players' focus, motivation, emotions and discipline. For example, he needs them to be more afraid of him, which means they would be less likely to tweet insulting things about the gracious town of El Paso which showed a failed team hospitality.

Why not just fire Kiffin? Because he was a good coach in 2011. Because he's a great recruiter. Because he's still got potential. And because there really is an obvious path to follow that could quickly solve the Trojans problems.

The hippocratic oath is something coaches share with doctors: "First, do no harm." That means, at the very least, don't make your team worse than it is.

Kiffin did that by calling plays this year.

Pac-12 lunch links: Keys for USC

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
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What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.

Sun Bowl predictions

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
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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.

Pac-12 bowl season face plant?

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
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Last year, the Pac-12 had a quasi-valid excuse for its 2-5 face plant in the bowl season.

Because 10-2 and fifth-ranked USC was ineligible for the postseason, the conference was missing a quality team, and the Trojans' absence forced everyone other than Oregon up a notch in the bowl selection pecking order.

Of course, while you were trying to explain that, you were Nelsoned five times by trolls from other conferences.

The Pac-12, favored in seven of its eight bowl games, is presently 2-3 with three bowl games to play. It owns wins over Nevada and Navy, hardly a powerhouse pair. UCLA got bludgeoned by Baylor, and Washington and Oregon State threw up on themselves while blowing leads to Boise State and Texas, respectively.

The Big 12 showdown with the Pac-12 for the title of "Second Best Conference" has gone to the fly-over states, even if Oregon beats Kansas State.

The Bruins are likely to fall out of the final top 25. The Beavers also figure to tumble.

Stanford faces a no-win situation in the Rose Bowl. It's playing unranked, five-loss Wisconsin. Anything less than a dominant win will be greeted with a national, "Neh."

An Oregon loss will be met with a variety of dismissive insults. And it's not hard to imagine USC losing to the only bowl team with a losing record, Georgia Tech, today in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Are we on the brink of a complete meltdown, one that comes after we less than a month ago entertained the notion of going 8-0?

It's possible.

Why does that matter? Because it affects the next set of preseason rankings, and -- more important -- it sends ripples of negative perception out as we head toward a four-team playoff in 2014.

If the Pac-12 is widely viewed as the third best conference, well behind the SEC and Big 12, then when a selection committee compares, say, 11-1 Stanford and 11-1 Baylor for a playoff spot, it's likely going to leave the Pac-12 team behind.

Even with the new playoff, perception will be a critical ingredient in the process. Perhaps even more critical than before under the BCS system.

Sure, things could start to trend up in 2013, which looks promising for the conference. But perception isn't a one-year deal.

It might pain many of you to say the following, but we humbly suggest you consider repeating this: "Go Trojans;" "Go Cardinal;" "Go Ducks."

Sorry ... couldn't hear you guys over the crickets.
Happy Friday.

Lunch links: Barkley out of Sun Bowl?

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
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The supposed great misery of our century is the lack of time; our sense of that, not a disinterested love of science, and certainly not wisdom, is why we devote such a huge proportion of the ingenuity and income of our societies to finding faster ways of doing things -- as if the final aim of mankind was to grow closer not to a perfect humanity, but to a perfect lightning-flash.

Pac-12 lunch links

December, 26, 2012
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Happy Day After.

Pac-12 lunch links: UCLA lands commitment

December, 19, 2012
12/19/12
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Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head.

Video: Hyundai Sun Bowl preview

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
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USC's Marqise Lee squares off against Georgia Tech's triple option attack in El Paso, Texas, for the 2012 Sun Bowl.

Pac-12 bowl primer: Hyundai Sun

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
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This week we'll be taking a snapshot look at all of the bowl games including Pac-12 teams.

USC (7-5, 5-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7. 5-3)

Where: El Paso, Texas, Sun Bowl

When: Mon. Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT

TV: CBS

About USC: USC, if you haven't heard, ends up in El Paso after beginning the season with its eyes on Miami -- as in a spot in the BCS national title game. Yes, it's been a supremely disappointing season. QB Matt Barkley began the year as the top Heisman Trophy candidate, but he ended it failing to earn either first- or second-team All-Pac-12 honors. The Trojans were unmasked in game three at Stanford, getting pushed around at the line of scrimmage in the process, and they lost four of their final five games. They struggled on both sides of the ball, and the bowl game will be defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's last working under his son.

About Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are the ACC Coastal Division champions, but they needed a waiver to become bowl eligible after finishing the season 6-7 due to a loss to Florida State in the ACC title game. Georgia Tech runs a triple option under coach Paul Johnson, which means it runs well -- 312.5 yards per game, which ranks fourth in the nation -- and passes poorly. The Yellow Jackets rank 119th in passing yards. The defense is only fair, and it ranks 82nd in the nation in pass efficiency defense, which doesn't bode well against the Trojans. The Yellow Jackets lost two overtime games this year, but they also lost to Middle Tennessee State. Their best win was probably a 68-50 slugfest with North Carolina on Nov. 10. That sounds like a basketball score.

Key players, USC: Whether Barkley plays or not -- he's questionable due to the shoulder injury he suffered late in the Nov. 17 loss to UCLA -- the Trojans' most important player is Marqise Lee, who just won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. Lee not only should tax the Yellow Jackets' secondary, his downfield threat should open things up for the Trojans running game.

Key players, Georgia Tech: QB Tevin Washington is the triggerman for the Yellow Jackets' triple option, so he's where success or failure begins. He has rushed for 638 yards and 19 touchdowns while also passing for 1,173 yards and seven TDs. While he's second on the team in rushing to Orwin Smith, who averages an eye-popping nine yards a carry, he has more than twice as many carries as Smith. The Trojans also will see some of backup QB Vad Lee, a speedy, promising freshman.

Did you know: This is the first meeting between Georgia Tech and USC since 1973, when Tech lost 23-6 to the then-No. 1 Trojans. The Jackets are 1-2 all time against USC. ... Coach Paul Johnson is 0-4 in bowl games at Georgia Tech, including a loss to Utah in last year's Sun Bowl. ... The Yellow Jackets will be without leading receiver Jeff Greene, who left the team. Of course, he only caught 18 passes this year. ... Georgia Tech changed defensive coordinators from Al Groh to Charles Kelly in early October.

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