In a matchup that features two teams that fell short of pre-season expectations, the TCU Horned Frogs and Georgia Bulldogs will meet at the end of December in Memphis in a Liberty Bowl battle.
The Bulldogs are led by freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, a Pacific Northwest native who has been a revelation for one of the south’s marquee brands. Eason started 11 games for UGA, leading the team to an upset victory over Auburn and a stirring comeback win against Missouri. He threw for over 2200 yards with a 55% completion rate, tossing 14 TDs against only 8 interceptions. But, Eason is not a running threat at the quarterback position, something that should come as a relief to fans that watched Jess Ertz look like LT Saturday morning at The Carter.
The Bulldogs do have a running threat though, and he’s a good one - junior running back Nick Chubb is as good as it gets when healthy. In ten starts during the 2016 campaign, he wracked up over a thousand yards on the ground and scored seven times, averaging nearly five yards per carry in the process. He will pose an serious challenge to the Frogs’ front line.
For Georgia, the Liberty Bowl presents an opportunity to get to eight wins in Kirby Smart’s first season at the helm, as the former Bulldog took the reigns from longtime coach Mark Richt before the season. Meanwhile, TCU will need a victory to have a winning season, as they sit 6-6 after the home loss to Kansas State a day ago. Seven wins would be a far cry from the preseason prognostications that had the Frogs as a top 15 team and potential dark horse conference title contender, but would help end the season on a positive note and start the momentum building for what should be a better 2017 campaign. All things considered, the opportunity to play in a good bowl game against a good opponent is always a positive, and hanging another SEC skin on the wall can only help the Frogs and the Big 12 as a whole. This is a big game for Gary Patterson and TCU, and we can be sure they will treat it as such.
We will have much more on the matchup and the Bulldogs in the coming weeks, as the two teams have not faced off since 1988, with UGA leading the all time series with a 3-0 mark. Those victories came in 1942, against Dutch Meyer, 1980, against F.A. Dry, and 1988, against Jim Wacker. So it’s fitting the the fourth legend of Frog Football, Gary Patterson, will be the next to take on Georgia. UGA legend Vince Dooley was the architect of the last two meetings and victories for his squad - the former of which was the national championship team led by Herschel Walker. The Orange Bowl victory in ‘42 was UGA’s first ever bowl win. So while the history is sparse, it’s ripe with interest.
The Auto Zone Liberty Bowl, held annually in Memphis, Tennessee, will take place on December 30th this year, with kickoff set for 11:00am. TCU season ticket holders can request tickets from the school through tomorrow, before they go on sale to the general public. You can find out more about the game and the bowl history at the Liberty Bowl website.
On a side note, it is possibly to get a flight from DFW to Memphis and back on the same day for a pretty reasonable rate. It also might be possible to do so in time to catch TCU Basketball play Kansas at home that night - so that’s something to keep in mind as well ;).