Posted by Chip Patterson
GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can score early and force Utah to play catch-up. The Yellow Jackets will face one of their toughest challenges of the season in Utah's defense, which ranks ninth nationally against the run. The Utes have a strong front seven that has played well against Air Force in recent years, a team that runs an option scheme similar to Georgia Tech. But the Yellow Jackets' best weapon all season has been the big play. If Georgia Tech can break a couple big yardage plays early in the game and get an early lead, they will force Utah out of their comfort zone offensively. The Utes would love to play Georgia Tech in a low-scoring affair, with both teams grinding out hard yards on the ground. But the Yellow Jackets scored more than 20 points in 10 of their 12 contests this season, and could force Utah into turning to their shaky passing game for offense.
UTAH WILL WIN IF: The can establish a dominant rushing attack to match Georgia Tech's pace. The good news for Utah's defense is that offensive coordinator Norm Chow will likely expect running back John White IV to carry 30+ times against the Yellow Jackets. White was the Pac-12's second-leading rusher this season with 1,405 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has been highly effective when healthy, and the junior college transfer is expected to be ready to play after injuring his ankle early in the season finale loss to Colorado. The offensive line has struggled at times with pass rush, and Al Groh's 3-4 scheme has given quarterbacks fits with their multiple blitz packages. If Utah can allow the run to set up the pass, they will take a lot of responsibility out of the hands of quarterback Jon Hays.
X-FACTOR: Preparation time. Two of the four teams that defeated Georgia Tech this season had at least 10 days to prepare for Paul Johnson's offense. Players from those games admitted to benefiting from the extra time to study the different reads and fakes involved in the complex option scheme. Players are given time off after the bowl match ups are announced, but there is definitely an advantage to having 27 days to prepare for a team as unique as Georgia Tech. Johnson's Yellow Jackets have beaten plenty of teams with extra time to prepare, but the long break does seem to favor the Utes in this situation.
Keep up with all the latest on Georgia Tech and Utah at the Sun Bowl Pregame
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