USC Trojans (7-5 SU, 3-9 ATS) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7 SU, 8-5 ATS)
College Football Hyundai Sun Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Monday December 31st, 2012. 2:00PM Eastern
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium El Paso, T.X.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC -10/GT +10
Over/Under Total: 64
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Before the season began, the USC Trojans were ranked number 1 in the AP Polls and most expected that Coach Lane Kiffin had the Trojans amongst the nation’s elite once again following an impressive 10-2 campaign in 2011. Instead, the Trojans tanked during the 2nd half of the season losing 4 of their last 5 games to finish with an extremely disappointing 7-5 record. As a result, the Trojans get the luxury of meeting the 6-7 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in this year’s Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Yellow Jackets need a NCAA bowl waiver just to earn their bid to El Paso due to their 6-7 losing record. Needless to say the Trojans still have some work to do before they are among the nation’s elite.
Georgia Tech had a rough start to the season losing 4 of their first 6 games before catching steam late in the year. Paul Johnson’s defense has struggled all season. In fact if not for the defense, Georgia Tech could have easily won 8-9 games. Still despite the poor record, the Yellow Jackets did get the chance to represent the weak ACC Coastal Division in the ACC Championship thanks impart to the Miami Hurricane’s self-imposed NCAA penalties. The Yellow Jackets actually played fairly well in the ACC Championship Game falling just short to Florida State 21-15. For now, it has been a disappointing season for Paul Johnson’s but the Yellow Jackets could end the season on an upswing with a win over the Trojans.
Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets have been anything but spectacular in the postseason in recent years. Georgia Tech has lost 7 straight bowl games over the last 7 years dating back to their last postseason victory in 2004 in the Champs Sports Bowl. It can be argued that defenses have extra time to prepare for Georgia Tech’s unique wishbone triple option offense and that has played a major difference in bowl games over the last few years. It is no secret that Georgia Tech has maintained a unique wishbone option offense since Paul Johnson’s arrival. The Yellow Jackets have consistently been one of the best rushing teams over the last few years and they have averaged 312 yards per game this season on the ground (4th in FBS).
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Typically Georgia Tech’s offense is tough to prepare for during the season as teams have just a few short days of practice. However, USC will have nearly 4 full weeks to prepare for the Yellow Jackets and it will be interesting to see if the Trojans can add to Georgia Tech’s postseason drought. Defensively, USC has been rather mediocre giving up 396 total yards (63rd in FBS) and 156 yards against the run (53rd in FBS) per game. Even with the extra few weeks of preparation, Georgia Tech’s offense can be so deceiving that they still may be able to move the football relatively well.
Fortunately for Trojans fans, Georgia Tech has been horrible on defense for most of the year giving up nearly 30 points per game. QB Matt Barkley should be healthy after missing the season finale against Notre Dame due to a shoulder injury. UPDATE (12/27): MAX WITTEK TO START. LINE MOVES FROM 10 DOWN TO 9.5. TOTAL STAYS SAME.Barkley is a terrific quarterback that has posted solid numbers this year completing 63% passing for 3,273 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Barkley not only has the big time arm to exploit Georgia Tech’s weak secondary but WR Marqise Lee is also one of the best receivers in the country. Lee has caught 112 passes this year while racking up 1,680 yards (2nd in FBS) and 14 touchdowns. The way USC’s passing attack matches up against Georgia Tech’s defense is the biggest reason the Trojans are 10 point favorites entering the Sun Bowl. If USC’s offensive line can hold up, Barkley and Lee could have the opportunity to do damage in the passing game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I believe both offenses will move the ball rather well in this game. With the help of just a few big plays, the over should be a strong play. Take the over 64!
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