|Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson gets a bath after his team beat USC, 21-7, in the Sun Bowl. (US Presswire)|
GEORGIA TECH WON: Georgia Tech (7-7) used a stifling defense and a ground attack that piled up 289 yards to upset USC (7-6), 21-7, in the Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve in El Paso. The Yellow Jackets offense limited the Trojans to 205 total yards, their worst showing since 2004. USC had just four first downs until deep into the fourth quarter and finished 3 of 15 on third-down conversions. USC drove inside the Tech 20-yard line three times and came away with only seven points. Yellow Jackets running back David Sims rushed for a game-high 99 yards to pace a triple-option scheme that kept USC off balance, while quarterback Tevin Washington accounted for one touchdown running and one passing.
Trojans quarterback Max Wittek had a rough day, completing just 14 of 37 passes for 107 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Running back Silas Redd managed 88 yards rushing and scored USC's only touchdown on a short pass from Wittek late in the second half. Georgia Tech snapped a seven-game bowl losing streak to notch its first postseason win since 2004. USC finished with its worst season since 2001.
WHEN GEORGIA TECH WON: The third quarter proved to be decisive. USC had four possessions in the period and gained just 15 yards, with the last possession ending in a turnover on downs as the Trojans failed to convert a fourth-and-4 at the Yellow Jackets 38-yard line. Jamal Golden returned Kyle Negrete's first punt of the quarter 56 yards to the USC one-yard line. Washington punched it in to make the score 14-7 and then, following USC's turnover on downs, led the Yellow Jackets on a 62-yard drive that ended with his 17-yard touchdown pass to Orwin Smith early in the fourth stanza. Given the ineptness of USC's offense, a 21-7 lead was pretty much insurmountable.
WHY GEORGIA TECH WON: Forget the explanations that USC didn't want to be there. Tech simply outcoached and outexecuted USC in all phases of the game. On offense, the Yellow Jackets triple option worked well and exposed the woefully unprepared Trojans defense time and time again. On the other side of the ball, Tech showed that it was more than ready and physically able to stop USC's vanilla game plan. As a result, containing Trojans star receiver Marqise Lee turned out to be no problem as he was held to just 41 yards on six catches. USC didn't have a single play longer than 25 yards on the day.
WHAT GEORGIA TECH WON: Snapping a streak of seven straight bowl losses is pretty satisfying. So, too, is whipping a high-profile team that everyone thought was going to handle the Yellow Jackets rather handily. And, of course, it's nice to finish the season at 7-7 rather than joining UCLA of 2011 as the only teams in history to go 6-8.
WHAT USC LOST: If anyone had doubts that this was the most disappointing team in the modern college football era, they've probably all been erased by now. The Trojans became the first preseason No. 1 team to finish with six losses. If the USC alums get fired up enough following this debacle, it could mean a swift end to Lane Kiffin's tenure as head coach at Troy. But, then, that wouldn't exactly be considered a loss, would it?