USC and Georgia Tech met on a cold, windy afternoon in El Paso, each vying for a Sun Bowl win that would end their respective season on a good note.
USC–participating in its first bowl game in two years–got off to a strong start defensively and showed the extra time they had to prepare for Georgia Tech’s triple option has paid off. The Trojan defense really got after the Yellow Jackets from the first snap, stifling the offense and moving Tech off the field quickly.
The Trojan offense however limped out of the gate in comparison, going three-and-out on their first drive. QB Max Wittek overthrew Robert Woods twice, both in situations that would have yielded first downs. USC did slightly better on their second drive, with RB Silas Redd breaking off a thirteen-yard run that got the Trojans in scoring position. But two questionable play calls later, the Trojans failed to advance down the field and had to settle for a field goal kick. Andre Heidari’s attempt sailed wide right, and well short of the goal posts, yet the referees under the posts initially called the kick good.
After the review the call was overturned, and the score held at 0-0.
As much as neither team has played particularly well offensively on their own merit, the 35 mph winds ripping through El Paso have done neither team any favors. The gusts have carried balls over the heads of receivers, caused Kyle Negrete’s punt that came down near the 20-yard line to roll all the way to the GA Tech one-yard line, and Heidari’s kick to sail off the mark. Whichever team can establish a strong running presence first will be able to open this one up, as the passing game might be voided by the strong winds.
Neither team got on the board in the first quarter, and with the way things are going with the sluggish offensive efforts, questionable officiating and troublesome winds, USC and Georgia Tech are in for a long day in El Paso.