The Utah Utes will be representing the Pac-12 in a bowl game for the first time in team history at the Sun Bowl when they try to make for great college football picks against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
What a year this could have been for the Utes… They started off in terrible form to the Pac-12 season, dropping three straight games, and they really looked to be headed to a struggle just to make the bowl season. However, Utah rolled off four straight wins in conference, including an upset at the Arizona Wildcats and a solid win over the UCLA Bruins to put themselves in a position to be in the Pac-12 Championship Game if they just could have beaten the Colorado Buffaloes in the regular season finale. Colorado was arguably the worst team in the power conferences in the country this year, but it got the job done in the Beehive State, winning 17-14 as 22.5 point underdogs to rip out the hearts of the Utes fans. QB Jordan Wynn, who had such high expectations in his career, has probably seen the end of the road after another subpar set of games and a shoulder injury, and QB Jon Hays has taken over. RB John White IV had some awesome games this season, but he has an ankle injury that has cost him some games. He’s probable for the Sun Bowl, but without that many backs on the roster to use, Utah will be in trouble if White is slowed.
The Yellow Jackets were the cream of the crop in the ACC Atlantic Division for awhile, but they couldn’t figure out how to beat the best teams in the conference and ended up just getting buried in the standings by the end of the year. That doesn’t take away from what Head Coach Paul Johnson and the gang in Atlanta accomplished, especially knowing that it could have been a frustrating year at the pivot with QB Tevin Washington. Instead, Washington did enough as a passer to make the triple option attack all the more impressive. The Ramblin’ Wreck averaged over 315 rushing yards per game on the campaign. The question at hand is whether they are going to really want to play in this bowl game or not, and if they have added enough wrinkles to slow down the Utah defense. Historically, this is a team that really doesn’t play well in bowl games, as was demonstrated in last year’s 14-7 loss to the Air Force Falcons in the Independence Bowl, which proved to be one of the worst bowl games of the entire season. Even while he was at the Naval Academy, Johnson struggled to win bowl games as well, and that doesn’t bode well here in the Sun Bowl.
Sun Bowl Keys to the Game: One of the losses that Georgia Tech suffered in this recent run of lousy luck in bowl games came at the hands of the Utes in 2005. It was clear in that 38-10 decision that Utah, which was a nine-point underdog on the day, wanted to be in the game, while G-Tech didn’t. The Yellow Jackets have to keep their focus in this game and try to get something going on both sides of the ball to get some positive momentum going. Utah just needs to get over that last loss to Utah and start playing like the team that performed so well on both sides of the ball down the stretch, and it will be fine in this game.
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.