Some thoughts and notes. Game starts 2 p.m. ET on CBS.
1. I think Tech will enjoy considerable support from the Sun Bowl crowd, which is largely made up of locals. After the 16,000 tickets allocated to the participating schools, the other 34,000 are sold to the El Paso community. As you may have read, USC stirred up controversy by showing up late for a Sun Bowl dinner and with two tweets sent by players criticizing the city of El Paso, which I’m going to guess has not sat well with residents. Further, Tech’s coaches and players have done nothing but rave about how welcome they feel and are enjoying the experience (which I think is genuine).
2. Weather: It’s sunny and very windy. The forecast calls for winds 20-30 mph, and it certainly feels like it. The wind right now (12:30 ET) is blowing briskly to the south, I think. Left to right on the television, at any rate.
Watching warmups, David Scully and Chris Tanner had trouble hitting from 45 going into the wind. Scully, at least, has range probably 10 yards longer than that. He crushed one from 55 with the wind.
3. If Tech gives up 35 points, the team will have the highest points-per-game allowed average going back at least to 1948. The 1999 team, which went 8-4 in Joe Hamilton’s final season, gave up an average of 30.3 points. Tech’s average through the ACC Championship game is 29.9.
4. There are two current Jackets who share Tech bowl records – Tevin Washington (completion percentage, 11-15 against Utah, tied with Shawn Jones in the 1991 Citrus Bowl) and Quayshawn Nealy (longest interception return, 74 yards, against Utah, tied with W.P. McHugh in the 1947 Oil Bowl)
5. Tech will wear blue jerseys, gold helmets, white pants.
6. The line is down to seven or 7.5 points in favor of USC. It had opened around 10. I’d guess Matt Barkley’s being ruled out played a big part in the drop.
7. Interesting – at 7-5, USC is still No. 20 in Sagarin ratings, presumably because their strength of schedule is ranked 13th. Tech is 63rd. Strength of schedule is 55th.
8. Tech marching band is here. Hopefully the altitude won’t affect the brass section.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game.