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2009 Independence Bowl - Texas A&M vs Georgia
Texas A&M S Jordan Pugh & Georgia LB Rennie Curran
Texas A&M S Jordan Pugh & Georgia LB Rennie Curran
Posted Dec 17, 2009

Can Georgia overcome a rough year to close out with a strong bowl win, or is the team really that mediocre? Can the Texas A&M offense get rolling and make this the start of a big 2010? The 2009 Independence Bowl is one of the big early matchups. Check out the CFN preview and prediction.

2009 AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl

Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)

Shreveport, LA, Dec. 28, 5 pm ESPN2

Scroll Down For Bowl Histories & Best Moments

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Team Pages and 2009 Season
GeorgiaTexas A&M

- 2008 CFN Independence Bowl Preview
- 2007 CFN Independence Bowl Preview
- 2006 CFN Independence Bowl Preview
National Rankings
G   A&M
73rd Total Offense 5th
30th Total Defense 107th
58th Scoring Offense 15th
70th Scoring Defense 104th
54th Rushing Offense 25th
41st Run Defense 87th
78th Passing Offense 22nd
33rd Passing Defense 111th
119th Turnover Margin 66th
Position Ratings
relative to each other
G 5 highest
1 lowest
3 Quarterbacks 4.5
3 RBs 3.5
4 Receivers 4
4 O Line 3
4 D Line 4
4 Linebackers 3
3 Secondary 2
4.5 Spec Teams 2.5
4.5 Coaching 4
Independence Bowl History
2008 La Tech 17, No Illinois 10
2007 Alabama 30, Colorado 24
2006 Oklahoma St 34, Alabama 31
2005 South Carolina 38, Missouri 31
2004 Iowa State 17, Miami-Ohio 13
2003 Arkansas 27, Missouri 14
2002 Mississippi 27, Nebraska 23
2001 Alabama 14, Iowa State 13
2000 Miss St. 43, Texas A&M 41
1999 Mississippi 27, Oklahoma 25
1998 Mississippi 35, Texas Tech 18
1997 LSU 27, Notre Dame 9
1996 Auburn 32, Army 29
1995 LSU 45, Michigan St 26
1994 Virginia 20, TCU 10
1993 Virginia Tech 45, Indiana 20
1992 Wake Forest 39, Oregon 35
1991 Georgia 24, Arkansas 15
1990 Louisiana Tech 34, Maryland 34
1989 Oregon 27, Tulsa 24
1988 Southern Miss 38, UTEP 18
1987 Washington 24, Tulane 12
1986 Mississippi 20, Texas Tech 17
1985 Minnesota 20, Clemson 13
1984 Air Force 23, Virginia Tech 7
1983 Air Force 9, Mississippi 3
1982 Wisconsin 14, Kansas State 3
1981 Texas A&M 33, Oklahoma St 16
1980 Southern Miss 16, McNeese State 14
1979 Syracuse 31, McNeese State 14
1978 East Carolina 35, Louisiana Tech 13
1977 Louisiana Tech 24, Louisville 14
1976 McNeese State 20, Tulsa 16
It’s all about the perception of the moment. The Independence Bowl might not be the be-all, end-all Holy Grail of bowl games, but to a program like Texas A&M with several key young players and with a fun and exciting future, this is the type of game that can be used as a true stepping stone. A big win would set the tone for a potentially big 2010, and while a loss would certainly hurt, just getting here after years of struggling to get back to respectability is a plus. But for Georgia, this means even more.

2008 was supposed to be the national title season. With stars like Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno leading the way, the Dawgs were supposed to have the year Florida ended up having and Alabama came up with this season, but it was a disappointing campaign followed up by a nearly disastrous 2009. Georgia considers itself among the national superpowers and on the yearly short list of teams in the chase for the BCS Championship, and 7-5 doesn’t taste so great even with three wins in the final four and a victory at Georgia Tech.

To be fair, this was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding season for Mark Richt’s team and the schedule over the first half of the year was brutal. Over the first eight games, the Bulldogs faced six bowl bound teams, Arizona State, and Vanderbilt on the road, and had to deal with five games away from Athens. Texas A&M will be the tenth bowl team Georgia faces, and while losing to Kentucky might not be acceptable and getting blasted by Florida 41-17 and Tennessee 45-19 are ugly, just getting to a bowl game when things didn’t exactly mesh really is a decent accomplishment.

As it turned out, Georgia couldn’t replace Stafford and Moreno really was missed, but the biggest issue was a defense that inexplicably went bye-bye for long, key stretches. While that’s not a good thing for Dawg fans, it could be a big plus for bowl watchers who should get a wild and crazy Independence Bowl.

Georgia canned its defensive coordinator, Willie Martinez, along with defensive ends coach Jon Fabris and co-coordinator Jon Janceck just in time to face one of the most explosive offenses in America. The Aggies finished first in the Big 12 and fifth in the nation in total offense averaging 465 yards per game, but while it blew up over the second half of the season and gave Texas all it could handle, there were inexplicable clunkers. Oklahoma crushed the Aggies 65-10, Kansas State came up with a 62-14 pasting, and Arkansas rolled to a 47-19 win, feeding the belief that A&M struggled to show up against the better teams. There was a 52-30 win over Texas Tech (famous for Red Raider head coach blaming the loss on his players’ “fat little girlfriends”), but the rest of the wins weren’t any big deal. Beating Georgia would be the highlight of the season, and it would also buck a major trend.

Georgia is one of college football’s top bowl teams over the last few decades winning ten of the 12 played since 1996, 15 of the last 19 since 1983, and six of the last eight including three January games in a row. On the flip side, A&M has often outkicked its coverage in bowl games, often getting exposed losing seven of its last eight with the one win coming against TCU in the 2001 Bowl. The Aggies have lost their last three bowls by a combined score of 107 to 34, and going back to 1986, they have won just four of 12 games. One of those losses was the classic snow game against Mississippi State in the 2000 Independence Bowl.

While it doesn’t get much respect, partially because last year’s matchup was Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois and partially because it usually gets the mid-tier SEC and Big 12 schools, the Independence Bowl has been as good as any this decade. Since 1999, only one of the ten games (a 2003 Arkansas 27-14 win over Missouri) was decided by more than a touchdown. Even if this one isn’t close, it should be worth watching because of all the fireworks, all the big plays, and all the post-game analysis on where two big name programs might be heading.

Players to Watch: This could be the coming out party for Jerrod Johnson, the multi-talented A&M quarterback who bombed away for 3,217 yards and 28 touchdowns with just six interceptions, and ran for 455 yards and eight scores. The star recruit of a few years ago is playing like it with more consistency, more command, and more big plays. While he’s not necessarily a running quarterback, he’ll take off when the chances are there with 180 yards and a score over the final two games of the regular season. The key will be to keep the interceptions to a minimum. Three game in the disastrous loss to Kansas State and the other three game in the final four games.

This should also be a spotlight game for Rennie Curran , one of the SEC’s most underappreciated talents despite earning First Team All-SEC honors. The Georgia junior led the conference in tackles, making 122 including 12 against Auburn, 13 against Kentucky, and 15 against Georgia Tech to close out the regular season, and he has had to do more with less around him to work with than more celebrated stars like Alabama’s Rolando McClain and Florida’s Brandon Spikes. While he's not all that big, he's extremely tough and he doesn't miss an open-field stop.

Needing to get into the backfield early and often is Von Miller, the nation’s leader in sacks. The A&M junior came up with 17 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, but he didn’t do much in the big games. 11 of his sacks came against New Mexico, Utah State, UAB, Colorado, and Iowa State, and while he came up with a few big plays against Texas and Texas Tech, he was invisible for too many stretches. He’ll have his work cut out for him against a Georgia offense that led the SEC in sacks allowed.

Georgia will win if ... the run defense shows up and the defensive front keeps Johnson from moving around. Johnson is at his best when he’s on the move with the option of taking off or buying himself time to allow his speedy receivers to get downfield, but Georgia is strong at getting into the backfield and need to make him a pure-pocket passer. Oklahoma’s strong defense was able to shut down the run and got to Johnson consistently, and the results were disastrous for the Aggies. Kansas State came up with four sacks and 15 tackles for loss, and even though Johnson threw for 314 yards, it was an ugly blowout.

A&M needs its running game to work. The Aggies are 0-6 when running for 190 yards or fewer, and 6-0 when running for more. Part of that is Johnson scrambling, part of that is the balance the offense needs to give the passing game a break, and part of that is the offense working. Georgia’s defense has had the most problems against decent passing teams, but the run D has been solid.

Texas A&M will win if ... the defense forces takeaways early. Georgia has been a disaster this season in turnover margin and A&M has to take advantage. There has been at least one Dawg giveaway in every game but one, the win over Auburn, and there were at least three turnovers in seven games. A&M hasn’t been great at taking the ball away on a consistent basis, but it needs to be at least +2 in turnover margin to get the win.

Simply put, the offense has to work. The defense hasn’t been good enough against offenses with a pulse to expect anything less than a shootout. Georgia will score at least 30 points and will roll up at least 450 yards, and A&M has to keep up. With time to rest and time to prepare, the Dawgs should come up with just enough defense to not be awful, so while A&M won’t bomb away for big numbers it needs to be effective, needs to take advantage of every opportunity, and needs to keep up the pace.

What will happen: Georgia will rely on its offensive line and the running game to control the clock and keep Johnson and the Aggie offense on the sidelines. There will be moments of big plays and back-and-forth punches being thrown, but Georgia will be more consistent, will keep the turnover margin to around even, will stop the Aggie backs, and will come up with the big win needed to cap off a rough year on a high note.

CFN Prediction: Georgia 38 … Texas A&M 27 ... Line: Georgia -7

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Best Bulldog Bowl Moment: Georgia has a very rich bowl tradition that includes 45 invites and victories in the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Gator Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. Fueled by freshman sensation Herschel Walker, the Dawgs took a perfect mark into the 1981 Sugar Bowl, where No. 7 Notre Dame awaited. Walker shook off a dislocated shoulder in the first quarter to score a pair of touchdowns, leading Georgia to a 17-10 win and the national title.

Best Aggie Bowl Moment: In one of the most important wins of the modern era, the Aggies shackled Heisman winner Tim Brown and defeated No. 12 Notre Dame, 35-10, in the 1988 Cotton Bowl. The A&M attack was spearheaded by a couple of freshmen, QB Bucky Richardson, who was named game MVP, and RB Darren Lewis, who tossed a game-tying touchdown pass on a halfback option.
Georgia Bowl History (25-16-3)
2009 Capital One Georgia 24, Mich St 12
2008 Sugar Georgia 41, Hawaii 10
2007 Chick-fil-A Georgia 31, Virginia Tech 24
2006 Sugar West Virginia 38, Georgia 35
2004 Outback Georgia 24, Wisconsin 21
2003 Capital One Georgia 34, Purdue 27 OT
2002 Sugar Georgia 26, Florida St 13
2001 Music City Boston College 20, Georgia 16
2000 Oahu Georgia 37, Virginia 14
1999 Outback Georgia 28, Purdue 25 OT
1998 Peach Georgia 35, Virginia 33
1997 Outback Georgia 33, Wisconsin 6
1995 Peach Virginia 34, Georgia 27
1992 Citrus Georgia 21, Ohio St 14
1991 Independence Georgia 24, Arkansas 15
1989 Peach Syracuse 19, Georgia 18
1988 Gator Georgia 34, Michigan State 27
1987 Liberty Georgia 20, Arkansas 17
1986 Hall of Fame Boston College 27, Georgia 24
1985 Sun Georgia 13, Arizona 13
1984 Citrus Georgia 17, Florida St 17
1983 Cotton Georgia 10, Texas 9
1982 Sugar Penn St 27, Georgia 23
1981 Sugar Pitt 24, Georgia 20
1980 Sugar Georgia 17, Notre Dame 10
1978 Bluebonnet Stanford 25, Georgia 22
1976 Sugar Pitt 27, Georgia 3
1975 Cotton Arkansas 31, Georgia 10
1974 Tangerine Miami (Ohio) 21, Georgia 10
1973 Peach Georgia 17, Maryland 16
1971 Gator Georgia 7, North Carolina 3
1969 Sun Nebraska 45, Georgia 6
1968 Sugar Arkansas 16, Georgia 2
1967 Liberty N.C. State 14, Georgia 7
1966 Cotton Georgia 24, SMU 9
1964 Sun Georgia 7, Texas 0
1959 Orange Georgia 14, Missouri 0
1950 Presidential Cup Texas A&M 40, Georgia 20
1948 Orange Texas 41, Georgia 28
1947 Gator Georgia 20, Maryland 20
1946 Sugar Georgia 20, North Carolina 10
1945 Oil Georgia 20, Tulsa 6
1942 Rose Georgia 9, UCLA 0
1941 Orange Georgia 40, TCU 26
Texas A&M Bowl History (13-17)
2007 Alamo Penn St 24, Texas A&M 17
2006 Holiday California 45, Texas A&M 10
2004 Cotton Tennessee 38, Texas A&M 7
2001 Gallery
Texas A&M 28, TCU 9
2000 Independence Miss St 43, Texas A&M 41 (OT)
1999 Alamo Penn State 24, Texas A&M 0
1998 Sugar Ohio State 24, Texas A&M 14
1997 Cotton UCLA 29, Texas A&M 23
1995 Alamo Texas A&M 22, Michigan 20
1993 Cotton Notre Dame 24, Texas A&M 21
1992 Cotton Notre Dame 28, Texas A&M 3
1991 Cotton Florida State 10, Texas A&M 2
1990 Holiday Texas A&M 65, BYU 14
1989 John Hancock Pittsburgh 31, Texas A&M 28
1987 Cotton Texas A&M 35, Notre Dame 10
1986 Cotton Ohio State 28, Texas A&M 12
1985 Cotton Texas A&M 36, Auburn 16
1981 Independence Texas A&M 33, Oklahoma State 16
1978 Hall of Fame Texas A&M 28, Iowa State 12
1977 Bluebonnet USC 47, Texas A&M 28
1976 Sun Texas A&M 37, Florida 14
1975 Liberty USC 20, Texas A&M 0
1967 Cotton Alabama 20, Texas A&M 16
1957 Gator Tennessee 3, Texas A&M 0
1950 Presidential Texas A&M 40, Georgia 20
1943 Orange LSU 19, Texas A&M 14
1941 Cotton Alabama 29, Texas A&M 21
1940 Cotton Texas A&M 13, Fordham 12
1939 Sugar Texas A&M 14, Tulane 13
1921 Dixie Classic Texas A&M 22, Centre 14