2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Georgia vs. TCU Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Georgia vs. TCU Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores


2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Georgia vs. TCU Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

AutoZone Liberty Bowl Prediction, Georgia vs. TCU Game Preview, History, Scores

Three reasons why you should watch the AutoZone Liberty Bowl between Georgia (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


Date: December 30th
Game Time: 12:00 pm
Venue: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Network: ESPN

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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 27 out of 40

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Is this the maturation of Georgia? 2016 was a missed opportunity considering Florida didn’t have an offense, South Carolina and Missouri were going through coaching changes, and Tennessee wasn’t up to the snuff it should’ve been. Kirby Smart is doing a great job on the recruiting trail, and that should work well around the talent coming back next year. There’s only one senior starter on defense, and there’s going to be enough talent returning on offense to be better. Win this game, and that gets the momentum rolling for Smart, Part 2, except …

Is this the maturation of TCU? TCU had the ultimate bowl-momentum win last season in the all-timer of a comeback to beat Oregon, and that meant a fat load of jack squat for this season. There’s almost no one better at fixing the glitch than Gary Patterson. With ten starters expected back on offense and seven back on defense, this should be a far better team with far more explosion on O and toughness on D. At least that’s the hope. First, TCU needs to prove it can play again. The program needs a confidence booster, and beating Georgia would be it.

New teams, new players, some new coaches, but … the two programs have been terrific in bowl games over the last several years. Granted, it was Mark Richt who made this all happen, but Georgia has won its last two bowl games, three of the last four, and is a fantastic 14-5 going back to 1995. TCU has won its last two, four of its last five, and eight of its last ten going back to the 2003.

Here’s Why Georgia Will Win The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

The TCU isn’t the TCU offense. It’s had its moments, but it’s not nearly the high-octane juggernaut it’s been over the last few seasons. The running game is hit-or-miss, and the passing attack doesn’t have the same pop or explosion. Last year, the O came up with 200 passing yards or more in every game but one with 39 touchdowns. This season, after a red-hot start, the passing attack hasn’t hit the 200-yard mark in four of the last six games. That’s going to be a problem since …

The Georgia defense has done its job. The Bulldog offense might be an issue, but the defense has done what it’s supposed to do under a head coach like Kirby Smart. Granted, there haven’t been a whole slew of dangerous offenses on the slate over the second half of the season – the Auburn O was a shadow of its former self thanks to injuries – but it’s been excellent, especially against the pass. The TCU offense should sputter and cough at times, while ….

The TCU run defense is whiffing. In 2014, TCU allowed 1,414 rushing yards and nine touchdowns for the entire 13-game season. This year, the Horned Frogs have allowed 859 and six scores in the last three games alone, getting destroyed by Oklahoma State and Kansas State for well over 300 yards each. It’s been a rocky season for the Georgia ground game, but with a month off to rest up and roll, the backfield of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel should be able to control the game. They’re overdue to break out. Speaking of overdue …

Here’s Why TCU Will Win The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Can Kenny Hill move the offense again? There’s a chance the month off could mean a better and stronger quarterback. Hampered by hamstring and foot injuries over the second half of the year, it’s been a tale of two seasons for Hill. He cranked up 400-yards or more in three of the first five games with 11 touchdowns – including a huge day against Oklahoma – but he wasn’t right the rest of the way. Yeah, the Georgia secondary is strong, and yeah, Hill had his chances over the second half of the year, but don’t be shocked if he lets it rip.

Georgia’s defense doesn’t bend all that often, but it breaks. Can TCU take advantage? The Horned Frogs have come up short on way too many good opportunities, but get inside the red zone, and Georgia will give up the points. With the second-worst red zone defense in college football, teams have only failed to come up with points just twice in 37 trips. Worse yet, the Bulldogs give up touchdowns – offenses have scores 29 touchdowns in the red zone, and were held to a mere six field goals. By comparison, the TCU defense is bad in the red zone, too, but it allowed 18 field goals and 27 touchdowns in 50 opponent trips.

This isn’t a high-powered Georgia offense, at least compared to what TCU saw in the Big 12. It’s not going to get shut down by this Horned Frog defense, but it’s not going to hang 45 points on the board in a wild and crazy shootout. It hasn’t happened enough over the second half of the season, but if TCU catches fire like it did in the 62-point outburst against Baylor – or like it did over the first half of the year – Georgia might not be able to keep up.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

This game has total dog potential if the teams aren’t focused. TCU just couldn’t get the ocean in motion this year. There was no flow and now consistency. The one-time high-powered offense didn’t show up against the better defenses, and the defense has been hit-or-miss. Georgia played several tight games, but it didn’t show up against Ole Miss and has been a bit too flaky. One team might not show up – but which one?

The spotlight is on Jacob Eason to shine. He’s still just a true freshman, even with a full season under his belt. What matters about this game for him? Getting the win and playing well overall – of course – but his accuracy will be the key. He’s got to keep the chains moving and he’s got to hit around 60% of his passes. Can he hit anything downfield? Can he stretch the field? How is he going to look after being so conservative throughout his first year? Bowl games are when you generate a buzz, and a big day will make him a bigger deal this offseason than he already will be. However, that might be a problem if he struggles against the …

The TCU pass rush. No, the Horned Frog defense hasn’t been up to the Gary Patterson standards, but the one thing it does really, really well compared to past TCU teams is get to the quarterback. When it struggles, it loses, and when it rocks, it wins. TCU is 0-4 when coming up with two sacks or fewer, and 6-2 when it gets more.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The AutoZone Liberty Bowl?

It’s taken a whole season of waiting for TCU to show up and be TCU again, and considering how good it’s been in bowl games under Patterson, it could flip the switch with the time off to prepare. However, Georgia should benefit every bit as much from the break.

The Bulldog running game kicked it in over the last month of the season, and it’ll be even stronger now that everyone is rested. Pound with Chubb and Michel, hope Eason can hit the third down throws, and rely on the secondary to take care of the rest.

Final Score

Georgia 26, TCU 23


Georgia -1, o/u: 49

ATS Confidence: 3.5
5: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score in your favorite bar
0: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score after covering a College Football Playoff semifinal

Must See Rating: 3
5: New Year’s Eve: Defected In The House, Ministry of Sound, London
0: New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Special Co-Host Kathy Griffin

Get Tickets For The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Liberty Bowl History, Results

Jan. 2, 2016 Arkansas 45 Kansas State 23
Dec. 29, 2014 Texas A&M 45 West Virginia 37
Dec. 31, 2013 Mississippi State 44 Rice 7
Dec. 31, 2012 Tulsa 31 Iowa State 17
Dec. 31, 2011 Cincinnati 31 Vanderbilt 24
Dec. 31, 2010 UCF 10 Georgia 6
Jan. 2, 2010 Arkansas 20 East Carolina 17 (OT)
Jan. 2, 2009 Kentucky 25 East Carolina 19
Dec. 29, 2007 Mississippi State 10 UCF 3
Dec. 29, 2006 South Carolina 44 Houston 36
Dec. 31, 2005 Tulsa 31 Fresno State 24
Dec. 31, 2004 Louisville 44 Boise State 40
Dec. 31, 2003 Utah 17 Southern Miss 0
Dec. 31, 2002 TCU 25 Colorado State 3
Dec. 31, 2001 Louisville 28 BYU 10
Dec. 29, 2000 Colorado State 22 Louisville 17
Dec. 31, 1999 Southern Miss 23 Colorado State 17
Dec. 31, 1998 Tulane 41 BYU 27
Dec. 31, 1997 Southern Miss 41 Pittsburgh 7
Dec. 27, 1996 Syracuse 30 Houston 17
Dec. 30, 1995 East Carolina 19 Stanford 13
Dec. 31, 1994 Illinois 30 East Carolina 0
Dec. 28, 1993 Louisville 18 Michigan State 7
Dec. 31, 1992 Mississippi 13 Air Force 0
Dec. 29, 1991 Air Force 38 Mississippi State 15
Dec. 27, 1990 Air Force 23 Ohio State 11
Dec. 29, 1989 Mississippi 42 Air Force 29
Dec. 28, 1988 Indiana 34 South Carolina 10
Dec. 29, 1987 Georgia 20 Arkansas 17
Dec. 29, 1986 Tennessee 21 Minnesota 14
Dec. 27, 1985 Baylor 21 LSU 7
Dec. 27, 1984 Auburn 21 Arkansas 15
Dec. 29, 1983 Notre Dame 19 Boston College 18
Dec. 29, 1982 Alabama 21 Illinois 15
Dec. 30, 1981 Ohio State 31 Navy 28
Dec. 27, 1980 Purdue 28 Missouri 25
Dec. 22, 1979 Penn State 9 Tulane 6
Dec. 23, 1978 Missouri 20 LSU 15
Dec. 19, 1977 Nebraska 21 North Carolina 17
Dec. 20, 1976 Alabama 36 UCLA 6
Dec. 22, 1975 USC 20 Texas A&M 0
Dec. 16, 1974 Tennessee 7 Maryland 3
Dec. 17, 1973 N.C. State 31 Kansas 18
Dec. 18, 1972 Georgia Tech 31 Iowa State 30
Dec. 20, 1971 Tennessee 14 Arkansas 13
Dec. 12, 1970 Tulane 17 Colorado 3
Dec. 13, 1969 Colorado 47 Alabama 33
Dec. 14, 1968 Mississippi 34 Virginia Tech 17
Dec. 16, 1967 N.C. State 14 Georgia 7
Dec. 10, 1966 Miami 14 Virginia Tech 7
Dec. 18, 1965 Mississippi 13 Auburn 7
Dec. 19, 1964 Utah 32 West Virginia 6
Dec. 21, 1963 Mississippi State 16 N.C. State 12
Dec. 15, 1962 Oregon State 6 Villanova 0
Dec. 16, 1961 Syracuse 15 Miami 14
Dec. 20, 1960 Penn State 41 Oregon 12
Dec. 19, 1959 Penn State 7 Alabama 0

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