Liberty Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. TCU Horned Frogs

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. TCU Horned Frogs

Date: Dec. 30, 12 p.m. ET on ESPN

Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium | Memphis, Tennessee


Best moment: Nick Chubb’s 222-yard performance in the season-opening win over North Carolina would be a nice choice, but the correct one is probably the defense’s showing in a 13-7 win over Auburn on Nov. 12. The Bulldogs scored their only touchdown on Maurice Smith’s pick-six and limited a powerful Auburn offense to only 164 total yards. It marked first-year coach Kirby Smart’s first win over a top-10 opponent.

Lowest moment: For Georgia, any regular season that ends with a loss to Georgia Tech is a low moment, but the Bulldogs’ Oct. 1 loss to Tennessee was even worse. The Bulldogs claimed the lead on Jacob Eason’s 47-yard touchdown pass to Riley Ridley with only 10 seconds remaining. However, Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings came down with a 43-yard Hail Mary from Joshua Dobbs on the game’s final play, giving Tennessee a 34-31 victory.

Key player: Eason gets the nod here over Chubb (988 rushing yards, 8 TDs) and running back Sony Michel (753 yards, 3 TDs). The freshman quarterback has had a fine season but also endured the consistency issues one might expect from a young player manning such an important position. When Eason (2,266 passing yards, 14 TDs, 8 INTs) is on his game, though, watch out.

Motivation level: Eh. After going 3-3 down the stretch and needing a field goal at the buzzer to avoid an upset at Kentucky, Georgia wants to put Smart’s debut season in the rear-view mirror so it can focus on what it hopes will be a brighter future under its new coach. This will not be an exciting bowl season for a team that sat at No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25 early in the fall. -- David Ching


Best moment: Not much goes better with turkey and stuffing than a roasted steer. TCU lassoed the Longhorns, winning 31-9 on Thanksgiving in Austin, Texas. It sealed the fate of Charlie Strong as coach at Texas. The Horned Frogs’ joy, though, came from skewering its rival with flashes of the potential that earned TCU such high expectations before the season.

Lowest moment: From Arkansas’ block of a late field goal that forced overtime in Week 2 to the blowing of a two-touchdown lead against Oklahoma, low moments filled this season for the Frogs. But worst of all was the Week 9 home loss to Texas Tech, 27-24, in double overtime, punctuated by Brandon Hatfield’s third errant field goal attempt at the end.

Key player: TCU’s up-and-down season mirrored the ride this fall of talented receiver and return specialist KaVontae Turpin. Injuries caused Turpin to miss five games. His presence might have mattered in a six-point loss to Oklahoma, a game in which a different outcome might have swung the seasons in a new direction for both teams.

Motivation level: The Horned Frogs just need to turn the page on this season. They backed into bowl season with four losses in six games to finish 6-6. TCU needs a bowl win to avoid a third losing season in the past 19 years, so it’s got that to motivate it through December -- and much of its roster returns in 2017. -- Mitch Sherman