Sun (El Paso, Tx.): USC (7-5) v. Georgia Tech (6-7), Dec. 31, 2 ET
Why To Watch: Because of there’s a possibility of a preseason No. 1 falling to a sub-.500 team in El Paso.
Who To Watch (Trojans): WR Marqise Lee – Lee finished second nationally with 1,680 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
Stat Advantage for Georgia Tech: Rushing offense v. USC rushing D – Obviously, the Jackets run the ball effectively (fourth nationally – 312.5 YPG), while the Trojans are mid-tier in rush D (58th – 156.4 YPG).
Stat Advantage for USC: Passing offense v. Tech’s passing defense – With a weapon like Lee, USC has a top-25 passing offense (at, well, 25th – 296.9 YPG), while GT is 67th in defending the pass (239.2 YPG).
What Happens: Redshirt freshman Max Wittek’s time is now, in place of an injured Matt Barkley at quarterback. Wittek started the Trojans’ finale, completing 14-of-23 passes for 186 yards with two picks and a touchdown, in a 22-13 loss to No. 1 Notre Dame. Though USC started AP No. 1 this season, there isn’t much separating these two statistically, which leads into the monkey on the back of Georgia Tech football – anemic bowl performances. They’ve lost seven-straight overall and four in a row under Paul Johnson – favorites in 3-of-4 and losing by almost two touchdowns per (13.8). I don’t know if the Trojans will be motivated, but if anything, they’re playing for pride to not lose to a sub-.500 team.
The Picks: Brandon Rink – USC 33-24; Griffin Wong – USC 31-20; J.J. Greenstein – USC 42-17; W. Gustin Vandiford – USC 54-21.