Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)
Dec. 28, 5 p.m., (ESPN2)
Texas A&M take by Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin: One of the most intriguing and potentially entertaining games involving a Big 12 team will involve Texas A&M, whose offensive growth helped push them to their first bowl game under Mike Sherman.
The biggest reason was quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who threw for a school-record 3,217 yards and led the Big 12 with 28 touchdown passes against only six interceptions. The Aggies also have a lot of offensive weapons with emerging receivers Jeff Fuller and Uzoma Nwachukwu, Big 12 Freshman of the Year running back Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. They will be facing a Georgia defense that struggled so much that it’s already led to the firing of coordinator of Willie Martinez and two other defensive assistants. The Bulldogs rank 30th nationally in total defense but were lit up for 23 touchdown passes and ranked 119th nationally in turnover margin after recovering only two fumbles all season.
Georgia quarterback Joe Cox and wide receiver A.J. Green are one of the SEC’s most productive passing duos and will be a difficult test for an A&M defense that allowed at least 47 points in four games and ranked last in the Big 12 in every major pass-defense statistic.
But with both offenses being so proficient, the first team to 50 points might win this game.
Georgia take by SEC blogger Chris Low:Georgia’s 13th consecutive bowl trip probably seems a little hollow. This is not what anybody in Athens wanted or expected, as evidenced by Mark Richt’s firing of three of his defensive assistants last week.
The only defensive assistant remaining is tackles coach Rodney Garner. Richt said about 99 percent of his time will be spent on the defensive end of the field this month in practice, as none of the fired assistants chose to hang around for the bowl game. For the second straight year, the Bulldogs struggled to stop anybody. They’ve given up 37 or more points nine times in the past two seasons, which is the reason Willie Martinez, John Jancek and Jon Fabris weren’t retained.
Despite the disappointment this season, Georgia at least goes into its bowl matchup with Texas A&M with a little momentum. The Bulldogs knocked off then No. 7 Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale thanks to their best all-around performance of the season.
Georgia beat itself more times than not this season. The Bulldogs were last in the SEC with 99 penalties, which was also a problem in 2008, and they’re 119th out of 120 teams nationally in turnover margin.
Freshman running back Washaun Ealey was a bright spot during the latter part of the season, and star receiver A.J. Green should also be back for the bowl game after missing the last two games with an injured shoulder.