Independence Bowl :
Georgia Bulldogs (7-5, 4-4)
Texas A&M Aggies (6-6, 3-5)
Team Statistics Comparison:
UGA - 27.7 ppg - 58th
A&M - 33.9 ppg - 15th
UGA - 157 ypg - 54th
A&M - 190.4 ypg - 25th
UGA - 205.8 ypg - 77th
A&M - 274.9 ypg - 22nd
UGA - 26.4 ppg - 70th
A&M - 32.7 ppg - 104th
UGA - 127.6 ypg - 41st
A&M - 168.6 ypg - 87th
UGA - 200.8 ypg - 33rd
A&M - 262.8 ypg - 111th
Players to Watch:
Texas A&M—Jerrod Johnson—QB—Jerrod Johnson is easily the best player on the Aggie roster. Johnson set school records this season with 3,217 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Johnson also rushed for 455 yards and eight touchdowns. If the Bulldog defense cannot get pressure on Jerrod, expect him to pick Georgia's young secondary apart.
Georgia—Justin Houston—DE—With the return of star wide receiver AJ Green, it would have been easy to pick him as the player to watch against A&M's 111th ranked pass defense, but after serious thought, it is obvious that the player that needs to have their biggest game of the year is sophomore defensive end Justin Houston. Houston has become one of the dominant forces on the Georgia defense. In 2009, he has racked up 7.5 sacks and 58 tackles for loss on less playing time. Houston needs to force Johnson to make poor decisions and slow down the Aggies' rushing attack to give the Bulldogs a chance.
What this game means for:
Texas A&M: With a victory, the Aggies would improve their record to 7-6 and give them their second bowl victory in their last nine bowl appearances. A victory would also make the Aggies a team to look out for in 2010. A big game from Jerrod Johnson may put him in the Heisman discussion for the upcoming season.
Georgia: A Georgia victory would put the Bulldogs at 8-5 and would avoid a seven win season, which would be Mark Richt's lowest win total since arriving in Athens. A victory would also be the Bulldogs' fourth straight bowl win (which would tie the longest bowl win streak in school history). A convincing victory may also push the Dawgs back into the Top 25 and would almost insure the Bulldogs a spot in next season's preseason Top 25.
Analysis and Prediction:
The Aggies and Bulldogs enter the Independence Bowl with two different attitudes. Texas A&M is happy with the improvement that they have made this season and consider this bowl a chance to put their team back on the map.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, are not used to playing in these lower-tier bowl games. 7-5 is not what this team or this fan base expected going into the season, and the fans would like to see this season end sooner rather than later.
This game is almost guaranteed to be a shoot out. Both defenses have struggled this year, and the Bulldog defense may struggle even more with the loss of three defensive coaches. Naturally, this game will be decided by which defense can make a stand, and stop the opposing offense from scoring.
The keys for the Bulldogs are to run the football, get pressure on Jerrod Johnson, and avoid stupid mistakes. The Dawgs must keep the Aggies off the field with the run game and dominate the time of possession. And as always, the Bulldogs must not give the Aggie offense multiple chances through turnovers and penalties.
In the end, I believe the Bulldogs will rise to the occasion and play some hard-nosed SEC football. Sine 1998, the SEC leads the Big 12 in head-to-head match ups 20-17-0. At the end of this season I expect the record to be 23-17-0 with an Alabama win over Texas, an Ole Miss win over Oklahoma State, and of course 35-31 Bulldog victory over Texas A&M!
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