Who: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7) vs USC Trojans (7-5)
Where: El Paso
When: New Year's Eve, 2 PM EST
Line: Lane Kiffin by 7.5
Ross: In Georgia Tech's favor? They run an unconventional offense that can be difficult to prepare for (Paul Johnson's flexbone attack) and they're facing a team that had a hugely disappointing season and doesn't want to be playing this game and that lost 4 of their final 5 games, giving up 38 points or more in 3 of those 4 losses. Oh, and their defensive coordinator is retiring after the game, so he's a lame duck. Georgia Tech also ended the season with three straight wins -- well, before getting drilled by Georgia and losing a close game to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. Working against Georgia Tech? Their defense was pretty lousy -- they had the 78th "best" scoring defense (29.9 ppg) and gave up 40+ points in 5 of their 7 losses (plus 1 of their 6 wins!) and they're facing a USC team dripping with offensive weapons. Well, maybe: QB Matt Barkley will miss the game while recuperating from a shoulder injury and all-everything WR Marqise Lee is reportedly dealing with a leg injury. So this probably won't be the high-flying USC attack that torched several defenses this year. On paper, USC still seems like a pretty heavy favorite... but paper doesn't take motivation into account and USC seems like they've checked out on this season. That should be enough to let Georgia Tech sneak out a win.
GEORGIA TECH 31 USC 28
Kevin: If you were a Georgia Tech fan and we told you before the season that you would go to the ACC Championship then you would probably be pretty excited about the season. You wouldn't expect to get steam-rolled by Middle Tennessee and finish 6-7. Would you? No, probably not. This is by far the most one-dimensional team that Paul Johnson has had at Georgia Tech. With Josh Nesbitt they at least had a threat of the pass and in recent years they've had at least one decent receiver. Not this year. And the defense has continued to regress, getting worse each year that gets further and further away from Paul Johnson playing with somebody else's defensive recruits. USC has had an extremely disappointing season and they are probably just waiting for it to end but I still expect them to go out on top. If Paul Johnson has proved anything in his tenure at Georgia Tech, it's that he doesn't win bowl games.
USC 35 Georgia Tech 27