The USC Trojans and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will meet in the 2012 Hyundai Sun Bowl on December 31st. USC started the season 6-1 but finished at 7-5. Georgia Tech was 5-3 in ACC play and 6-6 overall during the regular season. The Yellow Jackets advanced to the ACC title game but lost 21-15 to Florida State. With a 6-7 record overall, Georgia Tech had to get special permission to participate in a bowl game.
When Georgia Tech is on Offense
Georgia Tech ranks 33rd in the nation in scoring at 34.5 points per game. They rank 4th in rushing yards per game (312.5) and 119th in passing yards per game (134.1). Quarterback Tevin Washington only threw for 1173 yards this season, but did his damage on the ground with 638 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. Zach Lasky (127 carries, 637 yards) and David Sims (118 carries, 513 yards) got a majority of the carries for Georgia Tech. Orwin Smith is the most dangerous runner for the Yellow Jackets averaging 9.0 yards per carry this season on his way to 673 yards.
The Trojans rank 45th in scoring defense allowing 24.6 points per game. USC ranks 5th in the nation in sacks with 43 this season, but they won’t get many chances to rush the passer against Georgia Tech’s rushing attack. USC held opponents under 4.0 yards per carry and will have to play disciplined defense against the Yellow Jackets.
When USC is on Offense
USC ranks 35th in the nation in scoring at 34.2 points per game. The Trojans will be without quarterback Matt Barkley against Georgia Tech. Freshman Max Wittek filled in for Barkley against Notre Dame in the season finale and threw for 186 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in the loss. Wittek does have plenty of weapons around him including All-American wide receiver Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Lee had a monster season for the Trojans catching 112 passes for 1680 yards while Woods had 73 catches for 813 yards. Running backs Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal average 5.4 and 6.2 yards per carry respectively.
The Yellow Jackets rank 79th in scoring defense allowing 29.9 points per game. They gave up over 40 points in 6 of their 12 games this season. As a team, Georgia Tech had 28 sacks and 13 interceptions. They will need to generate a pass rush against USC to get Max Wittek off balance and out of rhythm.
2012 Hyundai Sun Bowl Pick Against the Spread
USC is currently a 10-point favorite over Georgia Tech in the 2012 Sun Bowl. The Trojans clearly have a more balanced offense but Georgia Tech has shown the ability to put up points using their potent rushing attack. I think it will take freshman Max Wittek some time to settle in and get comfortable, but USC will come out on the winning end. Due to a slow start by Wittek and Georgia Tech’s ability to score, I am taking Georgia Tech and the 10 points.
Prediction: USC 34 – Georgia Tech 28