NYE Bowl Game Preview: USC vs. Georgia Tech and LSU vs. Clemson

After two weeks of no-name bowls, this is the week college football fans have been waiting for with the kick off of BCS games. But first, Monday has four bowls to end the year and this begins with the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in a NC State vs. Vanderbilt (-7, 51.5 o/u) matchup.

The Hyundai Sun Bowl follows with USC (7-5, 5-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7, 5-3) sans Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley who is still out with a shoulder injury.

The AutoZone LIBERTY Bowl has Iowa State (-2, 51 o/u) against Tulsa and the day will end with the Chick-fil-A Bowl pairing LSU (10-2, 6-2) vs. Clemson (10-2, 7-1) in a defense vs. offense battle.

USC vs. Georgia Tech

USC WR Marqise Lee

USC entered the season with the top ranking, a Heisman-contending quarterback and the drive to reach a BCS game.

Fast forward to today and things haven’t turned out as planned for this team.

The silver lining may be it’s bowl eligible after a two-year suspension and taking on Georgia Tech could be interesting.

With the end of the Barkley era, redshirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek will again take the reins after his inaugural appearance in the regular season finale against Notre Dame. In his first start, he was 14 for 23, 186 yards, one touchdown and two picks.

Wittek has two talented offensive weapons with his wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods.

As Barkley’s season fell, sophomore Lee didn’t miss a beat and has a FBS-leading 112 catches, 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns. Then came the accolades: unanimously voted as an All-American, Pac-12’s offensive player of the year and the Biletnikoff Award. Right behind him in the conference for touchdown catches is Woods who had 73 receptions for 813 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Then there’s Georgia Tech.

After conference rival Miami placed a self-imposed bowl ban, the Yellow Jackets slipped into the conference title game against #13 Florida State and lost 21-15. And now they’re back at the Sun Bowl.

While the Trojans have a potent passing game, the Yellow Jackets have found success with their running game; they have 4,000-plus yards for the season or a 312.5 yard average per game landing them at No. 4 nationally.

Quarterback Tevin Washington has an arsenal of runners (six) and when called upon, he’ll pass with the regular season’s 1,173 yards, seven touchdowns and four picks.

This will be his second visit to the Sun Bowl and unfortunately for the senior, history will repeat itself with another loss as USC gets the winning nod (-7.5, 63 o/u).

LSU vs. Clemson

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd

After both teams had hopes for a BCS bowl, this consolation prize will pit one of the nation’s top-ranked defenses against an equally-talented offensive team.

Clemson will bring an offense that has scored 37 points 10 times over the season. This led to a school record of 508 points and 6,220 yards. It is one of the top FBS schools for scoring (42.3 points per game), total offense (518.3 yards per game) and passing (319.6 yards).

ACC’s Player of the Year Tajh Boyd is the team’s talented field general. He sits at the top of the FBS with his passer rating (68.5), passing yards (3,550 yards) and 34 touchdowns.

As for LSU, it’s all about defense.

They lead the FBS with points allowed (16.9), total yards (297.8), rushing yards (103.1) and pass defense efficiency at (103.5). The team’s safety Eric Reid has two of the team’s 18 picks while linebacker Kevin Minter is the face of the defense with his 111 tackles and 13 1/2 for loss; they are both second team All-Americans.

Quarterback  Zach Mettenberger can pass but sits at No. 7 in the SEC with his 329 attempts while lingering at the bottom with his 58.7 percent completion.

His favorite weapon includes running back Jeremy Hill (631 yards and 10 touchdowns).

LSU is a repeat visitor to the Chick-fil-A Bowl (5-0) and the good run looks to continue (-7, 58.5 o/u).

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