GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS (6-7)
vs. USC TROJANS (7-5)
Sun Bowl - El Paso, TX
Kickoff: Monday, 2:00 p.m. EDT
Line: USC -9, Total: 64
USC will not have its star quarterback when it closes out a hugely disappointing season in Monday's Sun Bowl versus Georgia Tech.
Matt Barkley (shoulder) will not be able to play for his Trojans team that many thought would win the BCS Championship in the preseason, but wound up with five losses. Now USC puts its four-game bowl win streak on the line against the only school with a losing record in this postseason, Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have lost seven straight bowl games, dropping a 30-27 overtime decision to Utah in last year's Sun Bowl. QB Tevin Washington ran for 97 yards in that Sun Bowl defeat, but he's been held to just 40 yards on 19 carries during his team's current two-game losing skid.
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After tallying 110 points in wins over North Carolina and Duke, Georgia Tech has just 25 points during their two-game losing skid. But with the Trojans being susceptible to the run recently (223 rush YPG allowed in past 4 games), the Yellow Jackets will pound the football with their triple-option attack that ranks 4th in the nation with 313 rushing YPG. Six different players have at least 400 rushing yards, led by Orwin Smith (673 rush yds, 5 TD). Smith has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, but he is expected to start on Monday afternoon. In his past three games, Smith has rushed for 239 yards on 31 carries (7.7 YPC) and 2 TD. QB Tevin Washington leads the team with 19 rushing touchdowns with fellow QB Vad Lee (492 rush yds) pitching in nine scores on the ground. Georgia Tech attempts just 14 passes per game, a far cry from its 57 rushing attempts per game. Defensively, the Yellow Jackets are pretty mediocre, giving up 29.9 PPG (79th in FBS) and 387 total YPG (54th in nation). But in the past three games, they have allowed just 327 total YPG, showing that the firing of defensive coordinator Al Groh in October seems to be paying off.
Unlike Georgia Tech, USC loves to throw the football early and often, averaging 35 pass attempts per game resulting in 297 passing YPG (25th in nation). With Barkley injured, freshman Max Wittek will step in and try to improve upon his last start when he went 14-of-23 for 186 yards (8.1 YPA), 1 TD and 2 INT, albeit against No. 1 Notre Dame. Luckily for Wittek, he faces a much weaker defense in his second career start, and he's got two of the best receivers in the country to throw the football to in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Lee leads the nation with 9.3 catches per game and ranks second in FBS in receiving yards (140 YPG) and scored a conference-best 14 TD. Woods has 73 grabs for 813 yards and 11 TD (2nd in Pac-12). Wittek completed 12 of his 14 passes to this duo against Notre Dame. Junior RB Silas Redd has been slowed by injuries, but he'll be healthy for this one, eager to rush for 100 yards for the first time since Oct. 13. He has 817 yards on 150 carries (5.4 YPC) and 9 TD this season. Curtis McNeal (696 rush yds) is also a strong back, posting consecutive 160-yard efforts with Redd hurting before Notre Dame limited McNeal to 38 yards on nine carries in the last game. Defensively, USC has been erratic, allowing 28+ points five times and holding five others to 17 points or less. The Trojans allow 396 total YPG (64th in nation), but they are fierce on the front line with 3.6 sacks per game (4th in FBS) and 7.6 Tackles For Loss per game (11th in nation).