USC to face Georgia Tech in Sun Bowl

The USC football team will play in the 79th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl against Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Georgia Tech at noon MT on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Tex.

LOS ANGELES ­-  El Paso is approximately 1,600 miles from Miami. To USC it might as well be the distance from here to the moon.

It’s not exactly where the Trojans thought they’d be spending the conclusion of their season.

USC has accepted a bid to the 79th Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso to take on Georgia Tech on Dec. 31, the school announced.

After being ranked No. 1 in the preseason, the Trojans had dreams of ending their season on South Beach in the BCS national title game. At the very least, they would hope for a spot in Pasadena at the Rose  Bowl.

However, after a 7-5 season neither of those destinations were a possibility.

So, the Trojans first bowl game in the aftermath of a two-year bowl ban will be in El Paso on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s very exciting, especially for two years of sitting at home and not being able to go to a bowl game, we’re excited,” said USC head coach Lane Kiffin.

USC will be returning to the Sun Bowl for the first time since 1998 when they lost to TCU. This is their third appearance in the bowl overall. They’re 0-2.

Georgia Tech, the runner up in the ACC, is returning to the Sun Bowl for the second consecutive season. Last year, they suffered an overtime loss to Utah.

The Yellow Jackets, similar to UCLA last season, needed a waiver from the NCAA to qualify for a bowl game due to their 6-7 record and falling under .500 in their conference championship game. They’re coming off of consecutive losses to Georgia and Florida State in the ACC championship game.

USC is simply next in line during a streak of three games Georgia Tech will have played against teams that were ranked in the top five at one point this season.

“Coach Kiffin is an outstanding coach with some outstanding players,” said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. 

Kiffin and company will have to try to slow down Johnson’s option attack. The Yellow Jackets average over 300 yards rushing per game and are ranked fourth nationally in rushing. His option attack is unlike anything the Trojans have faced this season.

“It’s obviously going to be very different,” Kiffin said. “They’re unbelievable at it. They do a great job and they understand their adjustments so well.”

Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will have 29 days to prepare to face the option. The Sun Bowl will the elder Kiffin’s last with the Trojans. He will resign following the bowl game, the school announced last week.

Kiffin says he expects quarterback Matt Barkley to be able to play.