USC vs. Georgia Tech (7.5, 64)
When: 2:00 PM ET, Monday, December 31, 2012
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL STORYLINES
1. USC coach Lane Kiffin on Thursday said senior quarterback Matt Barkley will not play because of a sprained shoulder he suffered Nov. 17 against UCLA. Barkley missed the Trojans’ 22-13 loss to Notre Dame the following week. Barkley passed for 3,273 yards and 15 touchdowns, but also threw a career-high 14 interceptions. Freshman Max Wittek, who made his first career start against Notre Dame, will replace Barkley.
2. Georgia Tech obtained an NCAA waiver to play in a bowl game with a losing record. But aside from a blowout loss at Georgia on Nov. 24, the Yellow Jackets were impressive down the stretch, scoring 68 points in a victory at North Carolina and nearly upsetting Florida State for the ACC title. In that game, Georgia Tech shut out the Seminoles in the second half.
3. Both teams have been brutal defensively and are looking for defensive coordinators. USC’s Monte Kiffin will resign after this game. The Trojans, who give up an average of 24.6 points, lost consecutive games to Arizona and Oregon despite scoring a combined 87 points. The Ducks shredded Kiffin’s defense for 62 points and 730 yards. Georgia Tech fired Al Groh after a 2-4 start, and secondary coach Charles Kelly serves as interim DC. Tech gave up at least 40 points six times, and averaged 29.9 points allowed.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBS.
LINE: USC opened as high as 10-point favorites but has since been bet down to -7.5.
CONSENSUS: Over 54 percent of Covers Consensus players believe USC will cover while nearly 60 percent are on the over.
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-40s with a 25 percent chance of rain. Winds will be strong out of the WSW at 22 mph.
* Trojans are 4-0 ATS in their last four bowl games.
* Yellow Jackets are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Under is 6-0 in Trojans’ last six games in December.
* Yellow Jackets are 0-5 ATS in their last five Bowl games.
ABOUT USC (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12): The Trojans make their third Sun Bowl appearance, first since losing to TCU in 1998. USC entered the season ranked No. 1 and started 6-1 before a 1-4 collapse ruined its BCS hopes. USC ranks 37th nationally in scoring (34.2) and boasts perhaps the nation’s finest collection of skill players: incomparable sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee (112 catches, 1,680 yards, 14 touchdowns), wide receiver Robert Woods (73 catches, 813 yards, 11 TDs), running back Silas Redd (817 rushing yards, nine TDs) and running back Curtis McNeal (696 yards, two TDs, 6.2 yards per carry). The Trojans have won two of three meetings with the Yellow Jackets, but they haven’t met since 1973.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (6-7, 5-3 ACC): The Yellow Jackets lost 30-27 in overtime to Utah in last year’s Sun Bowl, their seventh straight bowl defeat. Georgia Tech is making its 16th straight bowl appearance, the fourth-longest active streak. With their triple option attack, the Jackets rank fourth nationally in rushing (312.5) and have run for more yards than any FBS team since 2008. Senior quarterback Tevin Washington, operating behind a line led by All-ACC guard Omoregie Uzzi, ran for 19 touchdowns this season. His 37 career rushing touchdows are the most in ACC history by a quarterback. Redshirt freshman quarterback Vad Lee, who has a stronger arm, has been rotating with Washington the second half of the season. The offense should get a boost with the expected return of senior A-back Orwin Smith (career 9.4 yards per carry), who missed the last two games with an ankle injury. Sophomore kick returner Jamal Golden could be an X-factor - he ranks ninth nationally with 29 yards per return and took two back for scores.