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CHRIS DUFRESNE / COLLEGE FOOTBALL MAILBAG

Despite its record, Georgia Tech poses problems for USC

Chris Dufresne takes time out (he gets 3 per half) each Friday during college football season to answer questions. This week's topics include the dark side of USC's Sun Bowl matchup and a brighter bloom about the Rose Bowl.

December 07, 2012|Chris Dufresne
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Unbuckling the mailbag:

Question: Imagine how USC fans are going to feel after a 6-7 Georgia Tech team wins the game.

Larry Diaz

Answer: How could USC fans feel any worse? The Trojans were picked to win the national title, lost five times and have been "rewarded" with a Sun Bowl matchup against an insect-nicknamed team with a losing record.

The good news for USC fans is El Paso is only an 11-plus-hour drive from Newport Beach. In fact, Newport is closer to El Paso (796 miles) than El Paso is to Houston (802 miles).

USC fans can pass the driving time by playing the popular car game, "I spy USC's new defensive coordinator."

Or, sing the time-killing tune "62 Oregon points on the board, 62 points on the board. Take one down, pass it around, 61 Oregon points on the board."

The worst USC season imaginable is ending in a border town across from Juarez. What a potential nightmare this is for outgoing defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. He finally gets away from all those Pac-12 spread offenses only to end up pitted against Paul Johnson's triple-option attack.

Playing Georgia Tech is similar to doing agility drills through barbed wire. USC defenders need to watch their legs, as the blocking schemes in the triple-option attack are completely different, with offensive linemen coming at you from all angles.

Q: Will SC-Georgia Tech make us forget 2008 Sun Bowl Classic: Pitt 3, Oregon State 0?

Steve Kelly

A: Come on now, fans of lawn bowling thought that game was a thrill a minute. The only score was Justin Kahut's second-quarter field goal and the teams combined for 20 punts. It was the lowest-scoring bowl game since Air Force and Texas Christian played to a scoreless tie in the 1959 Cotton Bowl.

There was also the Sun Bowl in 1940, when Arizona State and Catholic didn't score.

I suspect there will be points in this year's game. Georgia Tech played Florida State tough last week in a 21-15 loss, but allowed 106 points in its previous three games.

USC has unpleasant memories of its last trip to El Paso, when Paul Hackett's Trojans were shocked by TCU, 28-19.

The game marked low ebb for USC and was a launching point for an up-and-coming TCU program that used victory to build momentum as it headed into the next millennium.

That USC win ultimately helped TCU get to the Big 12 Conference.

Q: Can you remember a less impressive Heisman crew than this year's? Each guy isn't even the best at his position.

@jrphelps77

A: I wasn't crazy with the first crew back in 1935, led by Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago. Berwanger's victory couldn't even save his school's football program.

The trophy wasn't named "Heisman" until the second year, and the telegram informing Berwanger he won noted he had been named "most valuable football player east of the Mississippi."

What were players west of the Mississippi … chopped liver?

Monk Meyer of Army finished second, and in third place was Notre Dame's William Shakespeare, whose famous quote, "To tee or not to tee," would be coined by field goal kickers for generations to come.

Seriously, the Heisman goes to the best player that particular year, so in that context I have no problem with this year's field.

I still can't believe Andrew Luck didn't win a Heisman at Stanford, but last year he ran into a more dynamic candidate in Baylor's Robert Griffin III.

Eric Crouch and Gino Torretta won Heismans, but John Elway and Peyton Manning did not.

Elway finished second behind Herschel Walker in 1982; Crouch's competition in 2001 was Rex Grossman.

Manning fended off Randy Moss in 1997, but not Charles Woodson.

Matt Barkley or Geno Smith could have made this a very impressive Heisman crew had both quarterbacks not become fizzle sticks.

Is Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M the best quarterback in the nation? Maybe not, but he did amass 4,600 total yards and had a tremendous game in upsetting then-No. 1 Alabama.

Manti Te'o may not be America's best defensive player, but he is the best defensive player on a team that is going to the BCS title game.

Collin Klein, the third finalist, would have won the award had his Kansas State team won at Baylor, but that's the way the Heisman goes.

Q: "Heisman" is a franchise, no? Why not award a separate "Heisman" for defense?

Kurt Linn

A: That's actually not a half-bad idea.

Q: I can't believe you ranked Stanford behind Georgia … remind me how many ranked teams the Bulldogs beat?

David Thom

A: It's a legitimate point, and one my Stanford wife repeatedly makes as she hands me dinner on the back porch.

There is no doubt Stanford played a tougher schedule than Georgia and that both schools ended up with 11-2 records.

Here's where the argument falls apart like USC's defense. The Stanford Cardinal lost this year at Washington, which lost to Washington State, which lost to Colorado. That's a direct loss link to Colorado, arguably the worst team in Division I.

I just can't get that loss out of my head.

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