- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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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
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.