By JOHN ERFORT
EL PASO, Texas
Southern California was ranked No. 1 at the beginning of the season, and Matt Barkley was a strong contender for the Heisman Trophy. The year ended with Barkley on the sideline as the Trojans lost to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 21-7 victory on Monday in front of a crowd of 47,922 at Sun Bowl Stadium.
USC (7-6) became the first preseason No. 1 team to lose six games. It’s also all but assured of becoming the first school to enter the season on top of The Associated Press poll and finish unranked since Mississippi in 1964.
Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third made it 14-7, and he found Orwin Smith for a 17-yard touchdown pass in the fourth.
Barkley, the first three-time captain in USC history, injured his right shoulder in a loss to UCLA and was not cleared to play his final college game. He clapped as the Trojans took the field for their first bowl game after a two-year NCAA ban.
Max Wittek tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Silas Redd in the second quarter, but also threw three interceptions. Redd added 88 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Talented receiver Robert Woods was limited to three receptions for 33 yards in what was likely his final college game. The junior said after the loss he plans to enter the NFL draft.
Kiffin said he took responsibility for the lost season.
Asked if he thought the loss could cost him his job, Kiffin answered flatly, “No.”
The Trojans struggled to contain Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack. The Yellow Jackets (7-7) rushed for 294 yards on 63 carries while stopping a seven-bowl losing streak.
Tech’s David Sims had 99 yards on 17 carries, but he got plenty of help. Zach Laskey added 60 yards on six carries, Vad Lee had 52 on 10 carries and Washington had 16 attempts for 46 yards for the No. 4 rushing team in the nation.
Sims also caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Lee in the first quarter.
Lee and Washington combined to go just 5-for-10 passing, but two completions went for TDs passes and two more covered 26 and 49 yards, keying two of the team’s scoring drives.
Tech used its two-quarterback attack masterfully, working them in and out of the lineup and playing to their strengths.
High-powered USC finished with 10 first downs and eight punts as Georgia Tech shut down the Trojans’ big-play threats all afternoon.
USC receiver Marqise Lee, who finished fourth in this year’s Heisman voting, was held to six catches for 41 yards.
Wittek had four passes deflected at the line. His second interception came in the Tech end zone with 6:22 to go and the last came inside the Tech 10-yard line in the game’s final minute. He was 14 for 37 for 107 yards.