By TPR Staff

The latest results of the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll asked the question if college football fans would rather receive gifts this Holiday season as per usual, or if they would forego receiving presents in order to watch their favorite team win the BCS Championship. In a very close vote, 46 percent of fans opted for presents, while 42 percent said they would trade in all of their Holiday gifts in order to witness their favorite team hoist the crystal ball trophy after winning the BCS Championship. But while only the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Alabama Crimson Tide can play for the BCS Championship, that does not mean that we should ignore other exciting bowl games this season, including the Sun Bowl between two unlikely opponents in the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and USC Trojans.

I say unlikely because of how both teams’ seasons unfolded. One team is lucky to be in a bowl game at all, while the other has to quite disappointed to be playing in this one. This goes far beyond the fact that these two storied schools have not met since 1973.

The USC Trojans were the No. 1 ranked team in many preseason polls. Matt Barkley came back for his senior season. Silas Redd transferred from Penn State. This team was loaded. That is still enough to make them a 10 point favorite in this year’s Sun Bowl.

And then, the season began, and that is when things began to go downhill in a hurry.

USC finished the regular season at 7-5, including losing four of its final five games. The offense was good, but not great. The defense was average. For a team with such lofty expectations, finishing 7-5 and not even ranked in the final BCS Standings is almost unacceptable. It already cost Monte Kiffin his job as defensive coordinator, regardless of what the Trojans want you to believe about him leaving to pursue NFL opportunities.

For Georgia Tech, this is an unlikely appearance because they actually finished the season under .500, which is supposed to make a team bowl ineligible. But the Yellow Jackets put in for a waiver because they should not have even played the final game that resulted in a loss and losing record. The Yellow Jackets were 6-6 heading into the ACC Championship Game, although they only reached that contest due to the North Carolina Tar Heels and Miami Hurricanes both being on the banned postseason list. Call it the naughty list of college football. The Jackets played better than expected, but still came up short. But they were actually granted the waiver going into the game, so, regardless of the result, they were still going to be bowl eligible. Behind the fourth best rushing offense in the country featuring the option on almost every play, Georgia Tech could give USC fits.

Before we take a further look into this game, take a look at the latest results from the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll. College football fans across the country were not only asked whether they would rather receive gifts this Holiday season or watch their favorite team win this year’s BCS Championship, but they were also asked which team had the best chance to win the national championship, as well as which ones were truly the best in the country. After checking out the following infograph with the complete results, make sure to let us know how you feel. Who is the best team in 2012? Who will win this year’s BCS Championship Game? Would you trade in all of your gifts for the chance to watch your favorite team hoist the crystal ball trophy after winning the BCS Championship Game?

When you take a look inside the numbers, Georgia Tech is still looking to win its first bowl game under Paul Johnson. Apparently, the option has not worked as well in bowl games as it has in times in the regular season, with teams having over a month to prepare for such a unique attack. USC has mad better success in bowl games, although they are looking to win this one to salvage a nearly lost season.

For the Trojans, Barkley expects to start this game, in what will be his final game as a collegiate student athlete before he enters the 2013 NFL Draft. He missed the team’s final game of the season against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with a shoulder injury. He still managed to throw for 36 touchdowns this season.

The Yellow Jackets rely on the decision making of Tevin Washington, who runs the option at quarterback for the team. He only threw for 7 touchdowns on the season, but he ran in another 19 in 2012. He is most responsible for moving the chains and keeping Barkley and the USC offense on the sidelines.

In terms of schedule, USC played a far more difficult schedule than Georgia Tech this season. The Pac 12 was clearly superior to the ACC, and the results are obvious. The Yellow Jackets can boast of just one win over other bowl eligible teams this year, with that coming in a 42-24 win over the Duke Blue Devils. The most impressive game for Georgia Tech came in a 68-50 road win over North Carolina, and even though the Tar Heels were banned from playing in the postseason, it was still a quality win.

The Trojans hold three wins over bowl eligible teams in 2012, including victories over the Syracuse Orange, Washington Huskies and Arizona State Sun Devils. While Georgia Tech had more than its fair share of losses, USC was close in most of its losses this season, dropping all five games to other bowl eligible teams, including three who are going to BCS Bowls.

Stay tuned to The Pigskin Report for the most complete coverage of the entire 2012-2013 college football season, as well as the results from each week’s Discover Fan Loyalty Poll. Make sure to Like Discover on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, as they have done a fantastic job at providing us with the most entertaining results from and poll throughout the 2012 college football season!

* The 15-week Discover Fan Loyalty Poll is conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a nationally recognized leader in polling, who gathers sentiment by phone from 800 college football fans who follow games at least once per week on television, radio, in person or online.

Discover launched the Fan Loyalty Poll to give die-hard fans a platform to showcase their dedication and love for their favorite college football team leading up to the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game and 2013 Discover Orange Bowl. Each week the poll will offer new questions about what college football fans are thinking this season.

Beyond title sponsorship of the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game and 2013 Discover Orange Bowl, Discover’s commitment to college football includes relationships with ESPN and Notre Dame Football on NBC.

 

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