Pro Football Focus summarizes the Liberty Bowl as follows:
Georgia QB Jacob Eason has struggled against pressure this year, completing just 33.8 percent of his passes and posting a QB rating of 44.7. He has also struggled with his downfield accuracy, as he has completed only 22 of his 109 shots at least 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. While TCU hasn’t produced a consistent pass rush this season, the Horned Frogs rank 19th in coverage grading among Power-5 schools. CB Ranthony Texada has given up just two receptions of at least 20 yards in his past seven games, while his counterpart, Jeff Gladney has given up just three such catches the entire season.
Georgia’s ability to move the ball on offense relies almost solely on RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who have combined for 1741 yards and forced 60 missed tackles. Due to poor offensive line play, 1162 of their yards have come after first contact. TCU’s front seven is strong against the run, led by DT Aaron Curry. If the Georgia backfield can’t make TCU defenders miss – the Horned Frogs have missed 136 tackles this season – TCU should be able to put up enough points on offense to pull off the upset.
That really hits where I’m feeling the toughest part of the game is for Georgia today. With Ridley’s injury taking one more playmaker off the field, I have a sense that Chaney and Smart are going to double down on pounding the ball. Georgia is going to have its usual trouble scoring points as a result. Can the Dawgs keep up with the Frogs if they have to? I’m skeptical.
Marc Weiszer mentions two other factors affecting my thinking about the game. One is something very much in Georgia’s favor:
Georgia is 19th nationally in turnover margin (+7). TCU is 84th (-3).
This game looks close enough to me that going +2 in turnover margin might well be enough to make the difference. Georgia is more likely to pull that off than is TCU.
On the other hand, this definitely isn’t something in Georgia’s favor.
Georgia’s Kirby Smart is 7-5 in his first year as a head coach. He is 3-1 in nonconference games. TCU’s Gary Patterson 149-53 in 15 seasons, all at TCU, making him the school’s all-time winningest coach.
In a tight game, are you gonna go with the guy who’s still working out the bugs that come with on the job training or the one who’s led his team through several bowl games already?
My heart’s with Georgia on this one, but my head tells me we’re about to see one last game marked by the same problems — constipated offense and red zone woes — that have plagued the Dawgs all season. They’ll both cost them today in a narrow loss.
At least we’ve got recruiting to look forward to, eh?
Consider this your game day thread.