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Sun Bowl Preview: USC, Georgia Tech Mean Defense Is Optional

There was once a time where both of these teams could field good defenses. That time has long passed.

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Hyundai Sun Bowl, Monday, 2:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Why it exists: For the annual goofy pictures of head coaches wearing sombreros.

The teams: Southern Cal and Georgia Tech

How Southern Cal got here: Against their better judgment, pundits put Southern Cal at or near the top of the preseason polls. Sure the team was shorthanded from sanctions and still coached by Lane Kiffin, but really, what could go wrong? Well, the Trojans got mashed by Stanford early. Then the fact that Monte Kiffin doesn't know how to stop modern shotgun spread offenses reared its ugly head in back-to-back losses to Arizona and Oregon. The offense scored 36 points and Marqise Lee had 345 receiving yards against Zona, and they scored 51 points and gained 615 yards while losing by double digits to the Ducks. They closed out the year with an uninspired loss to UCLA and a defeat at the hands of Notre Dame marred by questionable coaching late. From the AP's preseason No. 1 to 7-5 and unranked, it was a bad year for the program.

How Georgia Tech got here: The Yellow Jackets were in a three way tie for the, hold on a sec... Coastal division title, but they got to the conference title game by virtue of the other two being UNC (ineligible) and Miami (voluntarily sitting out the postseason). When this team was on, it was really on. It beat UNC 68-50, hammered Duke 42-24, and came within a two-minute drive of tying or beating FSU in the ACC title game. When it wasn't working, it really wasn't. They lost to Virginia Tech, BYU by 24, Georgia by 32, and Middle Tennessee (yes, MTSU) by 21. GT was more off than on this year, and it needed a waiver to get into the postseason at 6-7.

College football fans care because: Kiffin is a polarizing figure, and there's potential here for a train wreck out of one or both squads.

SEC fans care because: In the rare daily double, no one down this way likes Kiffin or Southern Cal for entirely different reasons. Plus, Georgia Tech played in the SEC once upon a time.

Watch this game if...: You want to see which is stronger: Southern Cal's extreme don't-want-to-be-here feeling or Georgia Tech's extremely bad defense.

cocknfire's pick: Georgia Tech 34, Southern Cal 31

Line: Southern Cal by 7.5