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2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowl - UCF vs. Georgia
UCF QB Jeff Godfrey & Georgia WR A.J. Green
UCF QB Jeff Godfrey & Georgia WR A.J. Green
Posted Dec 30, 2010

2010-2011 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowl - UCF vs. Georgia

2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowl

(10-3) vs. Georgia (6-6)

Friday, December 31st, 3:30, ESPN  

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SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history

By Richard Cirminiello

There’s a familiarity here … sort of.

While Georgia and UCF have met only one other time—more than 11 years ago—Knight head coach George O’Leary knows the Bulldogs intimately well. When he was leading Georgia Tech from 1994-2001, he faced them annually in an intense rivalry, winning three of eight games. Separated by a little more than seven hours of highway driving, Georgia likes to dip into the Central Florida talent pool and UCF makes frequent recruiting trips into the Peach State. So even though this is a rare meeting between the schools, it’s not as if they’re complete strangers.

Statistics In Yards
4,725 Total
4,030 Total
34.3 Scoring
23.1 Scoring
1,772 Rushing
1,803 Rushing
2,953 Passing
2,227 Passing
0.83 Turnover Margin 0.31
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
G   CF
3.5 QBs 4
3.5 RBs 3.5
4 WRs 3
4 O Line 3
3.5 D Line 4
4 LBs 3
4 DBs 3.5
4 STs 3.5
4 Coach 4
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
Is the glass half-full or half-empty in Athens? On the one hand, this was obviously not a vintage season for Georgia, which needs to win in Memphis to avoid its first losing season since 1996. The Bulldogs lost four straight games in the early going, plummeting out of the Top 25 and qualifying as one of the nation’s biggest disappointments. On the other hand, though, they refused to quit after bottoming out, finishing with five wins over the final seven games. Plus, bowl-eligibility came against the Yellow Jackets on the final weekend of the regular season.

No matter what happens in the Liberty Bowl, this will go down as a rough year for Georgia. That’s unavoidable. However, the Bulldogs have a chance to catapult into 2011 with another victory and a 6-2 finish. The future is also enhanced by the emergence of QB Aaron Murray, a Freshman All-American in his second season on campus. One of the faces of the turnaround, he’s evolving into the successor to Matthew Stafford, ranking ninth nationally in passing efficiency and throwing four times as many touchdowns as picks. If the Dawgs are going to become a factor in the SEC again, No. 11 will be a huge part of it.

For the second time in the last four years, UCF is the Conference USA champ, winning the East Division and beating SMU for the crown at the beginning of the month. With O’Leary at the helm, the program has become a consistent and dangerous threat from the ranks of the non-automatic qualifiers. With the Big East contemplating the addition of one more program, the Knights have made a compelling case with their facilities and their play on the field. Beating an SEC team in front of a national audience will certainly further that cause.

Like their opponent, the Knights have handed the offense to a youngster, true freshman QB Jeff Godfrey, who has been sensational in his debut. Viewed as too small for ACC and SEC programs, he’s settled in nicely as the starter, showing incredible poise and retention for a rookie. The backup when the season began, he quickly took over in September, throwing for 13 touchdown passes and running for 10 more, flashing tremendous quickness and improvisational skills. UCF lost just two games, Kansas State and Southern Miss, with him as the starter, and scored its second highest point total in school history.

There’ll be plenty at stake in this year’s Liberty Bowl. Georgia wants to turn this potential disaster into a winning season. UCF is searching for its first-ever postseason win and a noteworthy victory against an SEC opponent. Neither team wants to get embarrassed in a game with so many familiar faces on the other side of the field.

Players to Watch: Few of the UCF players are more pleased by this match up than DE Bruce Miller, the native of Canton, Ga. Overlooked by every major school, including the local ones, he’s gone on to be one of the nation’s premier sackers over the last four years. A try-hard type, who brings it on every down, he’ll have his work cut out for him against Bulldog tackles Trinton Sturdivant and Josh Davis. If Murray is to be stopped, Miller will need to be one of the catalysts up front for a speedy Knight defense that led Conference USA in run defense, pass efficiency, scoring, and total D.

It was no coincidence that Murray began to flourish shortly after A.J. Green returned from a month-long suspension to begin the season. The junior, who’s likely headed to the NFL Draft after this game, is one of the most dynamic and polished receivers in the country. A cut above most defensive backs he faces, he caught 49 passes for 771 yards and nine touchdowns in only eight games. He’ll be matched up with CB Josh Robinson and an underrated UCF secondary that ranks No. 30 nationally in pass efficiency defense. The Knights ought not sleep on WR Kris Durham, a sneaky big-play guy averaging over 20 yards a catch.

No one on the Georgia defense has benefitted more from the offseason shift to a 3-4 than junior Justin Houston, another candidate to skip his final year of eligibility in 2011. A defensive end a year ago, he moved to outside linebacker, which wound up being a better fit for his size and his quickness in space. Free to roam and freelance without an offensive tackle in his face, he’s collected 57 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and an SEC-high 10 sacks. He, fellow LB Akeem Dent, and S Baccari Rambo were three of the bright spots of a defense that too often came up small in big spots.

As good as Godfrey has been, he’ll need a lot of help to beat an SEC defense, even one that’s struggled at times in 2010. Don’t bank on a passing game that ranks 83rd nationally, has average receivers, and is clearly a second option in this offense. Big games will be needed from running backs Ronnie Weaver and Latavius Murray, who combined for 21 of the team’s 35 rushing touchdowns this season. Weaver is the more workmanlike of the pair, carrying a team-high 185 times for 890 yards. Murray provided an unexpected and crucial spark down the stretch, running for 315 yards and two touchdowns over the final three games.

UCF will win if ... : it wins the turnover battle ... by at least two.

The Knights are a quality team, but man-for-man, they don’t match up especially well with Georgia. They lack the playmakers on offense to match the Bulldogs, especially if this evolves into a high-scoring, fast-paced game. To keep this one close and threaten for an upset, UCF will have to be its usual aggressive, attacking self, stripping the ball, forcing three-and-outs, and putting the offense in opportunistic, short-field situations. While it’s not as if the Knights can’t win a high-scoring game, they’re far more likely to survive a defensive struggle, one that neutralizes the talent of Murray, Green, and RB Washaun Ealey. And one in which they halt drives with the occasional pick and fumble recovery.

Georgia will win if ... : it controls the UCF front seven.

With time, Murray will remain hot and close out his first year with a big evening, hooking up liberally with Green, Durham, and TE Orson Charles. And with holes, Ealey will rip off a handful of long runs and average more than five yards a carry. The Dawgs averaged a robust 34 points a game, going for more than 40 points in five of the last seven games. The unsung heroes of the sustained outburst was a front wall that was as healthy as it’s been in the last couple of seasons. If Georgia has achieved balance and is moving the sticks regularly, it’ll mean that Sturdivant, Davis, Ben Jones, Clint Boling, and Cordy Glenn are controlling the line and keeping the Knight pass rushers out of the backfield.

What will happen: UCF will put up a fight for a while, but doesn’t have enough offensive firepower to keep with the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs are playing well and are more focused than a Liberty Bowl invite might indicate. The offense has really been clicking for the last two months, and will be a step faster than even a quality Knight D. Murray is a special quarterback, who’s surrounded by an outstanding supporting cast. Together, they’ll stay one step ahead of UCF, which will struggle to play from behind and close the gap on Georgia. In an interesting match up between a high-powered offense and a stingy D, the Dawgs’ attack will out on top.

CFN Prediction: Georgia 33 … UCF 20 ... Line: Georgia -6.5
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Liberty Bowl History
2010 Arkansas 20, East Carolina 17 OT
2009 Kentucky 25, East Carolina 19
2007 Miss St 10, UCF 3
2006 South Carolina 44, Houston 36
2005 Tulsa 31, Fresno State 24
2004 Louisville 44, Boise State 40
2003 Utah 17, Southern Miss 0
2002 TCU 17, Colorado State 3
2001 Louisville 28, BYU 10
2000 Colorado State 22, Louisville 17
1999 Southern Miss 23, Colorado State 17
1998 Tulane 41, BYU 27
1997 Southern Miss 41, Pitt 7
1996 Syracuse 30, Houston 17
1995 East Carolina 19, Stanford 13
1994 Illinois 30, East Carolina 0
1993 Louisville 18, Michigan State 7
1992 Mississippi 13, Air Force 0
1991 Air Force 38, Mississippi State 15
1990 Air Force 23, Ohio State 11
1989 Mississippi 42, Air Force 29
1988 Indiana 34, South Carolina 10
1987 Georgia 20, Arkansas 17
1986 Tennessee 21, Minnesota 14
1985 Baylor 21, LSU 7
1984 Auburn 21, Arkansas 15
1983 Notre Dame 19, Boston Coll 18
1982 Alabama 21, Illinois 15
1981 Ohio State 21, Navy 28
1980 Purdue 28, Missouri 25
1979 Penn State 9, Tulane 6
1978 Missouri 20, LSU 15
1977 Nebraska 21, North Carolina 17
1976 Alabama 36, UCLA 6
1975 USC 20, Texas A&M 0
1974 Tennessee 7, Maryland 3
1973 NC State 31, Kansas 18
1972 Georgia Tech 31, Iowa State 30
1971 Tennessee 14, Arkansas 13
1970 Tulane 17, Colorado 3
1969 Colorado 47, Alabama 33
1968 Mississippi 34, Virginia Tech 17
1967 NC State 14, Georgia 7
1966 Miami 14, Virginia Tech 7
1965 Mississippi 13, Auburn 7
1964 Utah 32, West Virginia 6
1963 Miss State 16, NC State 12
1962 Oregon State 6, Villanova 0
1961 Syracuse 15, Miami 14
1960 Penn State 41, Oregon 12
1959 Penn State 7, Alabama 0

Pick ATS: Georgia   Confidence Score: 118
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 30 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - Georgia   Pick Confidence - 28
- That Georgia is ecstatic to be here shows just how awful the season was for a team with such high hopes. The Dawgs managed to win five of their last seven games with the losses to Florida in an overtime thriller and to Auburn in a battle. UCF can do Conference USA proud with a win over an SEC team. The Knights are efficient, play aggressive defense, and should give a good battle. The matchup between UGA WR A.J. Green and UCF CB Josh Robinson will be worth the price of admission.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Georgia  Pick Confidence - 27
- I’m eager to see Georgia QB Aaron Murray one more time before the start of the offseason. I’m expecting really big things out of him over the next three seasons, and the UCF defense will provide a tough test.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - UCF  Pick Confidence - 13
- YUMMY! George O’Leary, the former Georgia Tech coach, gets to face Mark Richt nine years after their last meeting in 2001, which was their only confrontation within the parameters of the Tech-UGA rivalry. Central Florida’s offense will legitimately test Georgia’s shaky defense. It’s on the other side of the ball that UCF will have a lot of problems. Good matchup.

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - UCF  Pick Confidence - 1
- Georgia squeaked into this bowl with an ugly win over Georgia Tech on the season’s final weekend. We’ve been impressed with the development of QB Aaron Murray (Note: don’t jump the gun, Dawg fans). Still, Georgia is not as complete a team as UCF.

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Georgia  Pick Confidence - 30
- Georgia gets a bowl game, which is saying an awful lot considering where it was after losing to Colorado the first week of October and falling to 1-4. This team is still adjusting Todd Grantham’s defense, and desperately needs the extra practice.

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Georgia   Pick Confidence - 34
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Georgia   Pick Confidence - 33
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - UCF  Pick Confidence - 11
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - Georgia  Pick Confidence -  25
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - UCF   Pick Confidence -  34