As Georgia finishes its preparations for Friday’s Liberty Bowl vs. TCU it’s probably safe to assume most fans have very little idea how the Bulldogs will look in the game. This is partially due to the fact that UGA’s performances during its 7-5 regular season were often surprising — for both good and bad reasons — and partially due to the fact that the Horned Frogs (6-6) have been equally enigmatic.
The lack of certainty about what to expect explains a lot about why both these teams are a long way from the postseason destination they hoped for at the beginning of the year, but the intrigue regarding the outcome should make the game fun to watch.
That’s a sentiment shared by Horned Frogs play-by-play broadcaster Brian Estridge.
“We’ve seen flashes from both (of these teams) where they’ve been really good,” Estridge said this week on Dawgnation Daily. “But we’ve also seen games where you’ve said, ‘What was that?’ So it all depends on who shows up on Friday, and I’m hoping we see two teams playing their best game of the year.”
UGA should have plenty of motivation to play its best game — despite the fact that motivation is a resource often found in short supply in lower-tier bowl games.
The Bulldogs are coming off a disappointing loss to in-state rival Georgia Tech to close out the regular season, but were also recently boosted by the news that a quartet of stars — running backs Nick Chub and Sony Michel along with linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy — have decided to return to UGA for their senior seasons.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the matchup with TCU is a prime opportunity for UGA to prove it’s better than it’s meager record and — with the high-profile players returning — brighter days are ahead in 2017.
Of course, proving that requires the Bulldogs actually playing better than they did for most of this year, and it remains to be seen whether that’s possible for a team that never fully solved some significant issues during the regular season.
On the other hand, TCU has issues of its own.
The Horned Frogs have struggled along the offensive line, dealt with injuries, and still haven’t found capable replacements for last season’s two top offensive stars — quarterback Trevone Boykin and wide receiver Josh Doctson, both of whom are now in the NFL.
Boykin’s heir apparent was supposed to be a familiar name to SEC fans. Kenny Hill landed in Ft. Worth, Tx. with the Horned Frogs after starting his career at Texas A&M. Hill remains the TCU starter, but isn’t exactly filling Boykin’s shoes — especially considering Hill was briefly benched earlier in the season.
The good news for the Horned Frogs is that Hill has a year of eligibility remaining and could prove during the Liberty Bowl that he’s TCU’s quarterback of the future which –just like many of the Bulldogs players — should give Hill the needed motivation to play well.
Hill’s potential emergence could play a part in why oddsmakers have made TCU a 2.5 point favorite in the game.
However, that narrow spread suggests even the experts in Las Vegas aren’t sure what to expect on Friday — which makes the folks in the desert just like everybody else.
No matter what happens in the Liberty Bowl we hope all of DawgNation will make plans to join us on the Papa John’s Post Game Show immediately after the game on Facebook Live. For a preview of this week’s broadcast take a look at the video above.