Georgia Bulldogs (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (6-6 SU, 3-9 ATS)
College Football Autozone Liberty Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Friday December 30th, 2016. 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Memphis, T.N.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UGA -1/TCU +1
Over/Under Total: 49
A pair of disappointing campaigns will collide inside Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Friday December, 30th when the Georgia Bulldogs meet the TCU Horned Frogs in the Autozone Liberty Bowl. Both the Bulldogs and the Horned Frogs failed to meet expectations this season. In fact, both schools under achieved pretty significantly if we are being honest. Georgia should have been able to challenge in another down year in the SEC East but things did not go according to plan in Kirby Smart’s first year in Athens. Meanwhile the Horned Frogs “rebuilding year” left some opportunities to be desired as they went just 6-6 after reaching 11 wins just 1 year ago. Now both teams will attempt to right the ship and build some momentum heading into 2017.
I wish I could boil down the reasons why things went south in Kirby Smart’s first year. The media will tell you that talent was a factor. However, the Bulldogs fielded a ton of talent this year at least on the offensive side of the football. Perhaps there is improvement to be made in talent on the defensive side of the ball at least in the eyes of Smart. However, Georgia just did not play well and that has nothing to do with talent. The Bulldogs were inconsistent all year and quite frankly just not that good. Even with 5 losses, Georgia just barely pulled out wins against the likes of Nicholls, Missouri, and Kentucky by a combined 5 points.
I am sure I am not the only one that thinks Georgia is reaping the results of a terrible decision last year when they let go long time Coach Mark Richt who by the way did some good things in Miami this year. Therefore, I blame Georgia’s inconsistencies solely on the coaching staff and they need to do a better job of getting better effort from this team. Effort and motivation is usually a big factor in postseason games and it will be interesting to see if this team has any fire when they take the field in this Liberty Bowl matchup.
Georgia has the utensils on offense to thwart TCU’s underachieving defense. Bulldogs running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are still one of the most dangerous duos in the FBS despite both rushers’ stats being down this season. However, both are plenty good enough to thrive against a Horned Frogs defense that has relinquished 182 yards per game on the ground. Quarterback Jacob Eason will also have the opportunity to pad his stats. TCU has been vulnerable in all phases of their defense and that does not exclude their pass defense. The Horned Frogs defensively have been like most of the Big 12 defenses this season, invisible. The question is can Eason truly capitalize? Thus far he has not proved that he can control of this offense and that is something that will have to change if Georgia is going to turn things back around.
While Georgia clearly has some advantages on offense, the same can be said for the TCU offense. The question is which Kenny Hill will we see at quarterback? Hill has had a rather wild season and possibly has not lived up to the lofty expectations that he was placed under going into the year. On the season, Hill has completed 60.8% passing for 3,062 yards with 15 scores and 13 picks. Obviously the turnovers have been worrisome but he has also added 537 yards on the ground with 9 touchdowns. Hill is the focal point of the offense which also puts a lot of attention towards running back Kyle Hicks. Hicks has gained just less than 1,400 yards from scrimmage this year with 14 total touchdowns. Still this game likely comes down to effort and motivation. If we see Georgia’s best effort, I feel comfortable that they can pull out this win. However, I am not the least convinced we will get that type of effort from the Bulldogs.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take TCU +1
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