Georgia Tech and Utah similar foes

I hope you all had a great Christmas.

Of course, now that it's over, we're closing in on the Sun Bowl and the official end of the 2011 season.

For Utah, it's a chance to right things after a bit of a bump in the road against Colorado back in November. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, is just looking for any second-half traction heading into a new year.

The Yellow Jackets' path to the Sun Bowl is actually almost opposite of how the Utes' season played out.

Utah started '11 dropping four of their first seven games and falling to 0-4 in Pac-12 play. By late October, a bowl game looked increasingly unlikely. But, as we all now know, they've finished the season ripping off four of their final five to not only finish with a winning record, but also locking up a bowl bid.

Georgia Tech, though, began their season surging, winning their first six games and climbing as high as 12th nationally before the bottom kind of fell out.

Since that solid start, the Yellow Jackets are just 2-4 in their final six games. Because of that, they back their way into the Sun Bowl with a respectable, but hardly expected after that quick start, 8-4 record.

In my Q&A with a Georgia Tech blogger, I asked why there was a collapse at the end of the season and the consensus seems to be that it was mostly schedule that impacted the first half success and second half struggles.

It makes sense. Of the Yellow Jackets' first six games, only North Carolina and North Carolina State are going bowling. They had wins over 2-10 Middle Tennessee State, 2-10 Kansas, 2-10 Maryland and 1-10 Western Carolina.

Not exactly murderers row. You would expect no worse than 4-2 against competition like that. Throw in 3-9 Duke also, who was their eighth and final win, and five of their victories came against competition that won three games or less.

Of their four losses, all have come against teams that were bowl eligible (Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech and Georgia).

That's not to say Georgia Tech doesn't have a good victory under its belt. They did steamroll Clemson, who entered that game sixth nationally, so it's obvious this team can win. They just haven't been consistent against better competition.

Sound familiar?

Utah faced a similar situation this season, albeit, as I said, really opposite of what Georgia Tech saw.

In the four losses Utah witnessed in that first half of the season, all were against teams that will have, or already have, gone bowling. In the four wins seen on the backside of the 2011 schedule, only UCLA gained a bowl berth.

So both these teams have pretty much taken care of business against worse teams and struggled against the better ones. The difference is that Utah has the worst loss of the two (Colorado) and Georgia Tech the best win (against Clemson).

Is that the difference maker and why, heading into this game, the Yellow Jackets are the favorite?

Maybe. Either way, I'm guessing Georgia Tech fans are looking at the Utes' schedule and thinking, "who have they beaten?" and, to a lesser extent, it sounds like Utah fans are doing the same. Clemson this year is definitely a mighty big feather in Tech's cap, especially since they won the ACC, but, outside that game, like with Utah, they struggled against the better teams and beat up on the bad ones.

In the end, Utah is an above .500 BCS team (unlike the last time these two teams met in the Emerald Bowl) and so is Georgia Tech.

The Utes own three victories over bowl bound teams. So do the Yellow Jackets.

So, something has to give here.

Who loses?

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