Georgia Tech’s streak of 15 consecutive bowl appearances is tied for the fourth-longest active run among FBS programs, but the will look to end another run Saturday – seventh consecutive postseason loss. The Yellow Jackets opened the season 6-0 for the first time since 1966, then went on to lose four of their final six games, including a 31-17 defeat to in-state rival Georgia in their regular season finale.
Georgia Tech doesn’t carry much momentum into El Paso hoping the Sun Bowl will be its first bowl victory since defeating Syracuse 51-14 in the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl. Head coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack led the ACC in rushing, while ranking third in the FBS amassing 316.8 yards per game on the ground. Three backs ran for over 400-yards this season: Orwin Smith (616 yards, 11 TDs), Roddy Jones (438 yards, 3 TDs) and Embry Peeples (422 yards and 2 TDs) and two QBs ran for over 600 yards. Tevin Washington ran for 890 yards and 14 touchdowns, while passing for 1515 yards, 10 TDs and eight INTs.
Listed as a quarterback, David Sims never attempted a pass this season, but did add 698 yards with seven touchdowns on the ground as well as catch three passes for 29 yards and a score. Georgia Tech has a solid passing defense, allowing 198.3 ypg for 29th best in the country, but opponents have averaged 25.8 points per game (60th) and rushed for 162.92 ypg (69th).
In its first year in the Pac-12, Kyle Whittingham was able to extend Utah’s consecutive bowl streak to nine seasons, going 7-1 over that span with the one loss coming last year as the Utes lost to Boise State 26-3 in the Las Vegas Bowl. RB John White IV led the league in attempts with 290 carries, finished second in the conference with 1,404 yards and third with 14 touchdowns. He left the Colorado game in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle, but appears to be healthy for the bowl game and will be the center of the Utes offensive attack. Jordan Wynn began as the starting quarterback, but his season ended early as he suffered a shoulder injury against Washington.
Replacing Wynn was JUCO transfer Jon Hays who struggled to complete passes, finishing 12th in Pac-12 in passer efficiency, throwing for 1266 yards, and only nine touchdowns with seven interceptions. The Utes defense has held opponents to 19.7 points per game, good for 17th best in the FBS, and their 98.25 yards allowed per game on ground rank them at eighth in the country. However, Utah is susceptible to the pass with 245.8 ypg allowed in the air (90th).