Georgia vs. TCU prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the Liberty Bowl between the Bulldogs and Horned Frogs.
Georgia vs. TCU, Liberty Bowl Preview
When: Friday, December 30 – 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
As far as Georgia and TCU are concerned, the 2017 season begins in Memphis later in the month. Neither the Bulldogs nor the Horned Frogs found this past season tolerable. It didn’t meet the usual standard set in Athens or Fort Worth.
The Dawgs have somewhat of an excuse for being 7-5, breaking in a first-year coach, Kirby Smart, and a first-year quarterback, blue-chip freshman Jacob Eason. Better days are ahead.
The Frogs? Excuses are far less acceptable. TCU was expected to compete this fall for a Big 12 title. Instead, Gary Patterson’s team sits at .500 after losing the regular season finale to Kansas State at home, 30-6.
What To Know About Georgia
This season in Athens was all about laying the foundation for the future. And yet, this could easily be a 10-win team had the Dawgs been able to shut the door on Tennessee, Vandy and Georgia Tech in heartbreaking losses by a total of five points. The Sept. 24 Ole Miss game aside, Smart’s defense has played pretty well, chalking up 25 takeaways to tie for the SEC lead. It’s on offense where Georgia has had problems, as Eason has gradually matured in his debut season. The Bulldogs rarely stretch the field, which is a problem, but oft-injured backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will be fresh following a month without contact.
What to Know About TCU
There’s certainly individual talent in Fort Worth. RB Kyle Hicks should reach 1,000 yards in Memphis, WR Taj Johnson was a JUCO find and front seven members Josh Carraway, Aaron Curry, Ty Summers and Travin Howard are all vying for All-Big 12 honors. However, sustained excellence eluded the Frogs in 2016, largely because of turnovers and inconsistent quarterback play. Kenny Hill hasn’t been the answer to Trevone Boykin’s graduation, at least not in his first season since transferring over from Texas A&M. The junior has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 13 picks, including just four scoring tosses in his last seven outings.
Offense: Georgia. True, the numbers say otherwise. But the Dawgs faced tougher defenses and will have the better quarterback now that Eason is about to embark on his sophomore season.
Defense: Push. The Bulldogs boast the better collection of secondary talent, led by Maurice Smith and Malkom Parrish, but the Frogs rank eighth nationally with 40 sacks.
Special Teams: TCU. It’s been a rough year for the Georgia punt team, which lost Marshall Long to injury and has been using reserve quarterback Brice Ramsey on special teams.
Coaching: TCU. This has not been Patterson’s finest moment in 2016. But he has the experience of being a head coach in 14 previous bowl games, while this will be Smart’s maiden voyage as the lead guy in a postseason game.
Intangibles: Georgia. TCU finished the regular season as if little more than fumes remained in the tank. Since this is all new to Smart, he’ll be fired up to amass a head of steam that can be bottled and taken into next year.
Matchup To Watch
TCU D-line vs. Georgia O-line
If the Bulldogs can protect Eason and create space for Chubb and Michel, they’ll get out of Memphis with their eighth win of the season. But line play in Athens has been just fair in 2016, which means Carraway, Curry, DE Mat Boesen and even SS Denzel Johnson could spend much of the afternoon blowing up plays before they have a chance to develop.
Georgia vs. TCU Betting Odds
Spread: Georgia -5
Over/Under: No line as of post
Georgia vs. TCU Prediction
If the finale with Kansas State is any indication of where TCU is right now, it’s hard to see how this team gets back up for a bowl game. Georgia, meanwhile, will be gunning to close the year positively. Eason will outplay Hill, because the latter is struggling and the former will benefit from this month’s practice time. And Chubb and Michel will provide the balance, galloping with bounces in their step as they contemplate early entry into the 2017 NFL Draft. If the Dawgs can jump out early, they’re liable to coast in the second half against a Frog team that hasn’t consistently played with a lot of fight this fall.
Georgia vs. TCU Score Prediction: Georgia 30, TCU 17
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: TCU
Jeff Bartl: Georgia
Rich Cirminiello: Georgia
Robert Judin: TCU
Pete Fiutak: Georgia