Sun Bowl Odds
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7) and USC Trojans (7-5) will do battle Monday, Dec. 31 at 2:00 PM ET in the Sun Bowl, which is held at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas. CBS has the coverage. Oddsmakers have listed USC as a 10-point favorite and have set the total at 64.0.
Why USC Covers
USC entered the season with national title aspirations after finishing their 2011 campaign at 10-2. The Trojans fell well short of their goals, but I still expect them to show up here.
Because of NCAA sanctions, USC hasn’t been able to play in a bowl game the past two years. It should relish the opportunity to show the country it is a much better team than its record indicates.
Quarterback Matt Barkley, who turned down the NFL to return for his senior season, should really welcome the opportunity, especially since a shoulder injury kept him from playing against top-ranked Notre Dame on senior day.
Barkley entered the season as one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy and was expected by many experts to be the first quarterback taken in the upcoming NFL Draft. He didn’t have the kind of season he had hoped for, and neither did USC, and that should drive him as he prepares for this game.
While Barkley was capable of more, there are still tons of FBS signal callers that would take his numbers. He completed 63.6 percent of his throws for 3,273 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He’ll have an opportunity to post some big numbers against a Georgia Tech defense that ranks 69th in the country against the pass with 239.2 yards allowed per game.
The Georgia Tech pass defense was really exposed against good passing teams like Miami, Clemson and North Carolina and could be exposed again here.
The Trojans are 4-0 against the spread in their last four bowl games while the Yellow Jackets are 0-5 against the spread in their last five bowl games.
Why Georgia Tech Covers
Because of the lofty expectations USC carried into the season, it has been overvalued by oddsmakers from the start. As a result, it covered the number in only three of 12 games. It may be asking too much of the Trojans to win this one by more than 10 points considering they have won by more than 10 points just twice in their last eight games and have lost four of their last five contests.
While the USC offense was plenty good enough, the defense kept it from being an elite team. The Trojans rank just 65th in the nation in total defense with 396.1 yards allowed per game. This unit could have a tough time slowing down a Georgia Tech offense that ranks 32nd in total offense with 446.6 yards per game and 35th in scoring with 34.5 points per game.
The Yellow Jackets do the majority of their damage on the ground. In fact, they rank fourth in the country in rushing offense with 312.5 yards per game. This ground attack could prove to be too much for USC to handle. After all, the Trojans allowed four of their last five opponents to rush for more than 170 yards and lost each of those games.
I have picked USC as the straight up winner of this game. Be sure to check out the rest of my bowl predictions. For even more detailed analysis, plus more predictions on this game, check out Sun Bowl previews from Jack Jones, Carolina Sports and Brandon Lee.