Everything you need to know about Georgia’s Liberty Bowl opponent: TCU
Up 13 in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech, Georgia looked poised to end its season on a four-game win streak. The Bulldogs couldn’t close out the Yellow Jackets, however, and fell to their rival 28-27.
It was a fitting way to end Kirby Smart’s first regular season at Georgia, which was full of the same inconsistencies shown in that finale.
There is hope for the future, though. Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason gained valuable experience throughout the year and ended his campaign with 2,266 passing yards and 14 touchdowns to 8 interceptions.
Eason is part of a young Georgia nucleus that will gain valuable experience in preparing for and facing TCU in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30 at noon.
It is Georgia’s 20th consecutive year appearing in a bowl game, the third-longest active streak in college football. The Bulldogs are 3-0 all-time against TCU, including a 40-26 victory in a 1941 bowl game that had a combined 10 turnovers.
This isn’t 1941, however, and history won’t play a factor. Here’s everything you need to know about TCU.
TCU’s season in review: The Horned Frogs finished 6-6 and fifth in the Big 12 standings. Under coach Gary Patterson, TCU has been one of college football’s better teams in recent years. This season began with high hopes, but a 2-4 record down the stretch has left the stench of disappointment in the air.
TCU was very close to starting the season 6-0. The Horned Frogs’ two losses came by a combined nine points to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Their double-overtime loss to the Razorbacks was a particularly memorable game that swung back and forth.
TCU went 1-2 against ranked opponents, with the lone victory a 62-22 blowout against Baylor. After a string of close games to begin the season, the Horned Frogs finished with a slew of lopsided wins and losses.
TCU on offense: While Patterson has been in charge, TCU has often had no problem scoring. This isn’t one of those years. The Horned Frogs average 31.7 points per game, well below the 44.3 they’ve averaged over the past two seasons.
Former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill was TCU’s starting quarterback for much of the season, but an injury forced him to operate in a relief role in his team’s final game. Hill threw for 3,062 yards with 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
TCU on defense: Defensively, the Horned Frogs can be taken advantage of. TCU allowed 27.8 points, which is about middle of the pack among all college football teams.
Teams have been able to run and throw the ball against the Horned Frogs, which bodes well for the Bulldogs. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel should be able to help take pressure off of Eason and the passing game.
Horned Frogs to know: Outside of Hill, the main players to know on TCU’s offense are running back Kyle Hicks and receiver Taj Williams. Hicks, a junior, has carried the ball 188 times for 954 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s also been an effective receiver, snagging 42 balls for 396 yards and 2 scores. Williams, a junior, is the team’s leading receiver. He’s caught 39 passes for 702 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Horned Frogs have a pair of tackling machines at linebacker. Travin Howard (below) leads TCU with 125 total tackles, and Ty Summers is right behind him with 113 stops. Josh Carraway has eight sacks and is a good pass rusher from the defensive end position. He could give Georgia’s below-average offensive line some trouble.
Notable: TCU last played against an SEC team in a bowl game in 2014. The Horned Frogs, snubbed from the College Football Playoff, ran away from Ole Miss 42-3 in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
This is a new opponent for many Georgia fans and is certainly a welcome change from the recent slew of Florida bowl games against Big Ten opponents. One of the main storylines should be Hill facing an SEC team, and the dual-threat quarterback will provide an interesting challenge for the Bulldogs.
William McFadden covers the University of Georgia for Saturday Down South. For news on everything happening between the hedges, follow him on Twitter @willmcfadden.