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Monday, December 31, 2012 - 1:11am

'Sun'-ny Bowl Return For Georgia Tech?

Georgia Tech football returns to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, Monday afternoon, trying to salvage a season that seems to have gone off the rails.

“Up-and-down” isn’t a bad way to describe this fall for Coach Paul Johnson’s squad. Despite early conference losses, Georgia Tech rallied and played for the ACC Championship. But they lost that game after also losing to their in-state rivals, the Georgia Bulldogs, in Athens.

Dropping those games gave the Yellow Jackets a losing record overall, and they needed a waiver to even play a bowl game.

But there is good news: they face the University of Southern California with leading rusher Orwin Smith back from injury.

“He’s probably their most explosive offensive player and gives them a dimension of speed and power on the perimeter that other players probably couldn’t give,” said Atlanta Journal-Constitution sportswriter Ken Sugiura. “[He] just gives defenses one more thing to worry about. So it’ll definitely help.”

Tech also played in the Sun Bowl last year, falling short in overtime against Utah.

Sugiura said playing such a storied football school might make up for being in the Sun Bowl again.

“Players have said they grew up watching USC play on TV, so I think there’s an excitement there that helps,” he said. “I think going back to the Sun Bowl, where they were last year, probably wasn’t their first choice. So in that respect, playing USC is probably the best possible scenario.”

Sugiura said USC is as talented as any team Georgia Tech has played this year.