USC's 2012 season started with plenty of optimism, but it came to a disappointing end in a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. The victory snapped the Yellow Jackets' streak of seven consecutive bowl losses dating back to 2005.
The first half featured little action, and the Trojans' offense fell flat with Matt Barkley sidelined due to a shoulder injury.
Georgia Tech's Vad Lee found running back David Sims for a short touchdown pass at the beginning of the second quarter to open the scoring.
USC freshman quarterback Max Wittek connected with running back Silas Redd to tie the game with under a minute remaining in the half, and neither team was able to move the ball effectively in the first half hour of play.
Tevin Washington scored a rushing touchdown early in the second half, and the Georgia Tech defense continued to frustrate Lane Kiffin's offense into the fourth quarter.
To start the final period of play, Washington accounted for another score when he found fellow senior Orwin Smith for a 17-yard touchdown that gave the Yellow Jackets a comfortable lead.
Wittek finished the game completing just 14-of-37 for 107 yards. He had one touchdown and three interceptions, and left talented receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee frustrated over their lack of opportunities.
Woods had only three catches for 33 yards, and Lee recorded six receptions for 41 yards.
Georgia Tech's triple-option offense burned the Trojans for 294 rushing yards and was the driving force behind its victory.
USC's 2012 record dropped to 7-6, while the Yellow Jackets improved to 7-7.
Strong winds were a factor in this game, and the Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke noted that it led to a strange series of events at the beginning of the game:
What? A FG under review? A first at Sun Bowl, USC's Heidari knuckles kick wide left but officials call it good..wind has everybody dizy..— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) December 31, 2012
Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde was wholly unimpressed with USC's first-half performance, despite Wittek's late touchdown pass:
USC touchdown, just before half. Middle Tennessee, which did not start season No. 1, scored seven of those TD thingees against Georgia Tech.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 31, 2012
This low-scoring battle caused Pac-12 Digital's Bryan Fischer to bring up Oregon State's and Pittsburgh's pitiful offensive performances in the 2008 Sun Bowl:
These two teams are making that 3-0 Sun Bowl look like an all-timer.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) December 31, 2012
Dean Buchan, a member of the Georgia Tech public relations department, noted that Tevin Washington's second-half touchdown put his name in the school's record books:
A prevailing sentiment among those tweeting about the game is that Lane Kiffin's game plan and play-calling were not impressive. CBS Sports' Chris Huston offered his harsh criticism:
Lane Kiffin should be a defensive coordinator. He's such an expert at shutting down offenses.— Chris Huston (@HeismanPundit) December 31, 2012
ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi took a break from discussing Kiffin's deficiencies as a coach and noted his poor wardrobe choices:
Is Lane Kiffin coaching a bowl game or playing in the World Series of Poker?— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 31, 2012
Lane Kiffin looking, well, very Lane Kiffin at the half. instagr.am/p/T6jPLYQC2i/— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 31, 2012
While USC's loss was disappointing, Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel points out that it was not surprising:
USC coming out uninspired in the Sun Bowl is just about the most predictable thing ever. They've led the nation in sleepwalking all year.— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) December 31, 2012