The Hyundai Sun Bowl features two teams looking to cap off solid seasons.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets stung their first six opponents before struggling down the stretch. Despite losing four of their last six games, they finished the season at 8-4.
The Utah Utes season was the exact opposite. They lost four of their first seven games before winning four of their last five to finish 7-5.
Both teams will be looking to finish strong with a win in the Sun Bowl.
Where: El Paso, Texas.
When: Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Official Website: http://www.sunbowl.org/
Key Storyline: Will the Utes be able to stop the Yellow Jackets' No. 3 ranked rushing attack?
Georgia Tech rushes for 316.8 yards per game, and have one of the best option style offenses in the country. Utah has a solid defense, which allows less than 20 points per game. They have faced potent offenses this season, but none as run heavy as this Yellow Jacket attack. They will have to contain and not get beat on the edges. That will be easier said than done when Georgia Tech has a seemingly unlimited supply of running backs, along with an outstanding athlete at quarterback in Tevin Washington.
Who Might Not Play for the Yellow Jackets:
Linebacker Morgan Carter did not play in Week 13 against Georgia due to an undisclosed injury and remains questionable for the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Who Might Not Play for the Utes:
Starting running back John White IV has an ankle injury but is expected to play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Starting wide receiver DeVonte Christopher is dealing with a chest injury and is questionable for the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Defensive lineman Dave Kruger has an ankle injury but is expected to play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
What it Means for Georgia Tech:
The Yellow Jackets look to be in good shape for the Sun Bowl with only one player on the injury report. They have depth at linebacker anyway, even if Morgan Carter cannot go.
What it means for Utah:
The Utes would miss John White IV and DeVonte Christopher a great deal if they are unable to play in the Sun Bowl. It sounds as though White will play, but Christopher's status is up in the air. He is their best wide receiver and the Utes would be hard pressed to pass the ball without him on the football field.
Georgia Tech Player to Watch: Junior quarterback Tevin Washington
Washington is one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in college football. He is the Yellow Jackets leading passer and rusher. He hasn't been very accurate but is good enough to keep any defense on its heels. He's thrown for 1,515 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. His strength is running the ball and running the offense effectively. He has 890 yards on 222 carries with 14 touchdowns.
Utah Player to Watch: Junior running back John White IV
White is the best player on this Utes offense by far. He has rushed for 1,404 yards on 290 carries and 14 touchdowns. He also has 12 catches for 47 yards and another two touchdowns. He suffered and ankle injury last weekend against the Colorado Buffalo's after just 10 carries and the Utes lost by three. When White isn't on the field the Utes offense is awful, so keep an eye on his status as the Sun Bowl approaches.
Key Matchup: Tevin Washington vs. the Utah Utes defense.
Tevin Washington is used to being able to get loose at some point during his games. Utah is used to holding teams down with their defense that gives up less than 20 points a game. One way or another, Washington has to find a way to throw the ball accurately to open up the run game. The Utes are expecting a run-heavy attack and will have had over a month to prepare for this game. Utah has to contain the run and force Washington to beat them passing the football.
This will be a great matchup to watch between a dynamic quarterback and a stout defense.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 42 Utah 37
I think the Yellow Jackets running attack will prove to be too much for the Utes. Tevin Washington will struggle a bit, but his running ability along with a host of talented running backs will be enough. Utah will score against a Georgia Tech defense that can be exploited. A shootout favors Georgia Tech and they will have just enough to outlast John White IV and the rest of the Utes offense.