Sun Bowl Picks: Utah vs. Georgia Tech 12/31/11

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A team that struggles in bowl games historically will take on a team that usually excels in these situations, and we are set to make our Sun Bowl picks for the encounter between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Utah Utes on New Year’s Eve.

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Sun Bowl Matchup: Utah Utes vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Sun Bowl Date/Time: Saturday, December 31st, 2:00 ET
Sun Bowl Location: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX
Sun Bowl Odds: Georgia Tech -2.5
Sun Bowl Total: 50.5
Sun Bowl TV Coverage: CBS

We foreshadowed this right at the top, and now we are going to discuss in depth why we much prefer the Utes in this game over the Yellow Jackets. Utah’s bowl history is rock solid. Sure, the team was rocked in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl, but it was hard to not see that one coming, considering the fact that the Boise State Broncos were one of the best teams in America. However, aside from that, the Utes have won nine straight bowl games dating back to 1999, and that includes some big time wins in the BCS as well. Georgia Tech… not so much. It was beaten 14-7 in last year’s Independence Bowl by the Air Force Falcons, marking the third straight year in which the team has failed to score more than 14 in its bowl game. It also marked the team’s sixth straight defeat in a bowl.

Part of the problem that the Ramblin’ Wreck have is that they just don’t come up with enough wrinkles on offense with this triple option to really fool the opposition. In each of these last three years, the offense was good enough to put up 40 on any team in America, but in all three games, it just wasn’t nearly good enough to put enough points on the board to win. This has been the case for Head Coach Paul Johnson since his days with the Naval Academy, as it was rare that he was able to win bowl games there either, especially when those bowl games were played later in the season like this one will be.

Of course, it doesn’t help matters for G-Tech at all that Utah has a stout front line on both offense and defense. Offensively, the squad opened up all sorts of holes for RB John White IV all season long, and on the other side of the pigskin, the front seven held teams down to under 100 rushing yards per game, tops in the Pac-12 and in the Top 10 in the country. Of course, we expect to see QB Tevin Washington and the gang put up at least 200 rushing yards in this one, but if the team doesn’t get into the 300s, it isn’t going to win. There were five rushers on this team that had at least 422 yards on the ground this year, but that won’t make a difference if the offensive line doesn’t find a way to hold up against this great defense.

Utah is definitely void of some of its skill players right now, and it has to be kicking itself for how badly that it played against the lowly Colorado Buffaloes in the last game of the regular season, a game that cost it a shot to play for the Pac-12 Championship. However, when you look at the ACC in general, you really can’t help to be all that impressed, especially if you watched the way that the North Carolina Tar Heels were destroyed by a very comparable Missouri Tigers squad. In the end, there is just too much going against Georgia Tech to have any desire to back it outright, let alone laying points with it, so we are going to take the Utes in their first bowl game as a Pac-12 school to come up with the outright upset to capture the 2011 Sun Bowl in El Paso.

Free Sun Bowl Pick: Utah +2.5

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Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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