by CFP Staff
December 31, 2012
The Sun Bowl matchup was just another slap in the face for a USC team that was hyped in the preseason as a top national title contender.
But like Virginia Tech, the Trojans struggled and finished their season at 7-6. Unlike Virginia Tech, which beat Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl and finished on a 3-game winning streak, USC dropped its third straight game with a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech, the only team that entered the postseason with a losing record (6-7).
The Trojans also saw their 4-bowl winning streak end against a team that had lost 7 straight bowl games.
Preseason Heisman favorite Matt Barkley did not play due to a shoulder injury he suffered on USC's last drive in the loss to UCLA. Barkley's backup, redshirt freshman Max Wittek, was intercepted twice in the red zone and 3 times overall.
Georgia Tech ran for 294 yards and attempted just 10 passes, but Vad Lee and Tevin Washington each had a TD toss.
USC lost this game in virtually every phase. The Trojans had just 205 total yards and 10 first downs and Wittek completed just 14 of his 37 passes.
Marqise Lee, a FWAA and CollegeFootballPoll.com All-American, caught 6 passes but for only 41 yards. Lee was also 4th in Heisman voting and was the recipient of the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver.
Georgia Tech's last bowl win had come in the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl. USC hadn't lost a bowl game since the 2005 Rose Bowl setback to Texas in the national championship game, an appearance which was later vacated by the NCAA.
USC head coach Lane Kiffin is 0-2 all-time in bowl games, having been outscored by a cumulative 58-21. His 2009 Tennessee team fell 37-14 to Virginia Tech in the 2009 Chick-fil-A Bowl. This was USC's first bowl game since the 2009 Emerald Bowl.
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson improved his bowl record to 3-6, including 2-2 with Navy. The Yellow Jackets are 23-18 over-all in bowl games.
USC leads the nation in bowl winning percentage for teams with at least 20 bowl appearances at 32-17 (.653). The Trojans entered the 2012 bowl season in second-place behind Alabama (34) for in all-time bowl wins. Georgia Tech ranked 10th in that category after this game.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com projected USC as a 7.93-point winner.