USC will play Georgia Tech in the 79th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl on Monday, December 31 at 2:0 p.m. EST. The game will air on CBS for the 45th consecutive year.
"We are pleased to have two storied programs coming to El Paso for another exciting Hyundai Sun Bowl" said Gary Hanson, Sun Bowl Association President. "USC is one of the most prestigious college football programs in the country and Georgia Tech is coming off a narrow loss in the ACC title game. It should be another Sun Bowl classic."
The 2012 Hyundai Sun Bowl will mark the fourth meeting between these two teams and the first in 39 years. USC holds a 2-1 advantage over the Yellow Jackets. The last time the two teams met was on Sept. 22, 1973 in a 29-18 win for the Trojans.
Southern California comes to El Paso with a 7-5 record and tied for second in the Pac-12 South Division. The Trojans’ storied bowl history includes two previous stops in the Sun Bowl game. The Trojans will be looking for their first victory in Sun Bowl stadium after losses to Michigan State (17-16) in 1990 and TCU (28-19) in 1998.
"After not being in a bowl the past two years, we look forward to playing in a bowl with the tradition of the Sun Bowl," said Lane Kiffin, USC head coach. "Georgia Tech is a very well-coached team and will present a challenge on both sides of the ball, especially with their great ability to run the ball.
"Although our season didn't go as well as we hoped, we appreciate the opportunity we now have to play another game and attempt to go out on a winning note."
The Trojans’ 32 bowl victories rank second all-time behind Alabama’s 34, while their 48 total appearances are the fourth most amongst Division I FBS schools. USC holds a 32-16 all-time bowl record for the best bowl winning percentage (.667) among schools with at least 20 appearances.
Georgia Tech (6-7, 5-3 ACC) is the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division champion and is making their third appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Yellow Jackets were part of the first overtime game in Sun Bowl history last year, falling to Utah 30-27.
Georgia Tech is here on a special waiver since the school was "forced" to participate in the ACC title game due to NCAA probation for North Carolina and a self-imposed bowl ban by Miami. The Jackets finished 3rd in the conference, a game ahead of Virginia Tech.
"Our players and coaches are excited about earning another bowl bid and for the opportunity to play a traditionally powerful team in Southern California," Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. "The hospitality shown to us last year by the Sun Bowl and the people of El Paso was fantastic.
"We know we will face a huge challenge in the game. USC has talented players across the board and Coach (Lane) Kiffin will have his team well-prepared, I’m sure."
USC quarterback Matt Barkley will not play due to injury (right shoulder) and redshirt freshman Max Wittek will get his second career start.
This is the Yellow Jackets’ 15th consecutive bowl appearance, tied for the fourth-longest active streak among FBS schools. They will play in their 41st bowl game overall (22-18) and they are tied for 10th for most bowl wins. Georgia Tech also owns the second-longest current bowl losing streak at 7 games (Northwestern, 9) as it looks for its first bowl victory since the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl win over Syracuse (51-14).
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com project USC as a 7.93-point winner.