Posted: Monday December 26, 2011 12:47PM ; Updated: Friday December 30, 2011 2:04PM
Cory McCartney

Bowl Breakdown: Sun

Story Highlights

Georgia Tech ranked third nationally this year with 316.8 rush yards per game

Most teams fear the triple-option, but Utah has seen it while playing Air Force

Tech has a 15-year postseason streak, but has not won a bowl game since 2004

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Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington ranks second in the ACC with a 153.5 QB rating.
Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington ranks second in the ACC with a 153.5 QB rating.

Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5)
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET (CBS)


Reason to watch: Something's got to give. Right? Georgia Tech boasts one of the nation's most prolific run games, ranking third with 316.8 yards per game behind junior quarterback Tevin Washington, junior running back Orwin Smith and sophomore David Sims, a trio that combined for 32 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Utah is seventh in rush defense (97 yards per game) and has allowed just six rushing touchdowns all season. But that battle of strength versus strength isn't the only reason this matchup is intriguing. While the Yellow Jackets' triple-option offense has been known to give opponents fits because they rarely see it, the Utes faced the scheme for years while playing Air Force in the Mountain West. Utah has also seen Tech coach Paul Johnson's version of the offense after facing his former team, Navy, in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl.

Keep an eye on: Utah's John White IV. After quarterback Jordan Wynn suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, the junior college transfer became the focal point of the offense. Nicknamed "Wolf Man" -- he has a tattoo of a wolf on his chest -- White ranked in the top 10 nationally with 1,404 yards to go along with 14 scores. He had at least 109 yards in five of his last seven games and could be in for a big day against the Jackets, who struggled against the run this season, yielding 162.9 rush yards per game, including 175 to Virginia Tech's David Wilson and 155 to North Carolina's Giovani Bernard. The Utes are 7-0 this season when White breaks the century mark.

Did you know: The Jackets' 15-year run of bowl appearances is the fourth-longest active streak, trailing only Florida State (30 years), Florida (21) and Virginia Tech (19). But Georgia Tech is also riding a less glamorous streak, last notching a postseason win in 2004 against Syracuse in the Champs Sports Bowl.

ANDERSON: Brush up on your Sun Bowl facts

Final analysis: As impressive as Utah's numbers are against the run, they may be a little misleading. Playing in the pass-happy Pac-12, only two of the Utes' opponents ranked better than 52nd in rushing offense, with four teams sitting in the 100s. While Utah's familiarity with Georgia Tech's offense will certainly help, we know the Jackets are going to get their yards. They were held below 243 yards just once this year, and Washington, who is second in the ACC with a 153.5 quarterback rating, is more than capable of taking advantage of Utah's 89th-ranked pass defense to keep the Utes from loading up in the box. The Jackets will break through and end their bowl skid.

The pick: Georgia Tech 28, Utah 24
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