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Some very interesting storylines are surrounding this year’s Liberty Bowl, as the UCF Knights and Georgia Bulldogs are ready to engage in NCAA football betting action on New Year’s Eve. The Knights have been to several bowl games in their history, but they have never won one. They’ll be taking on a Georgia team that has never finished under .500 in the coaching tenure in Athens of Head Coach Mark Richt. Needless to say, you won’t want to miss our Liberty Bowl picks in this one!
Liberty Bowl Matchup: UCF Knights vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Date: Friday, December 31st, 3:30 ET
Location: Liberty Bowl Stadium, Memphis, TN
Liberty Bowl Line: Georgia -6.5
Knights Notes: When you think of mid major teams in the country, you think about the TCU Horned Frogs, Boise State Broncos, Utah Utes, Nevada Wolf Pack, etc. However, the Knights are about as good as it gets as well, and Head Coach George O’Leary knows that a school record 11th win in this season would probably put them in the Top 25 to start next season, which would give them a chance to crash the BCS in 2011. O’Leary has done a fantastic job building this team where it really counts in the trenches. UCF averages over 90 yards per game more than its foes on the ground this year, and this is why this team doesn’t fit the bill as a prototypical C-USA squad. The Knights are one of two teams in the country that have three players that had visited the end zone at least ten times (the other being the Wisconsin Badgers). RB Latavius Murray and RB Ronnie Weaver played well this year, mostly in the power running game, as the two combined for over 1,400 rushing yards. QB Jeff Godfrey didn’t expect to do all that much this year, but he was called into duty when QB Rob Calabrese was injured earlier this year. Godfrey promptly won Conference USA Freshman of the Year, and he might become one of the best players in the entire state of Florida by the time it is said and done. He accounted for over 2,500 yards between his arm and his legs this year, and he was responsible for 23 TDs.
Bulldogs Notes: It was a tail of two seasons for the Bulldogs. In the first half of the year, the team really didn’t play that well, and it opened up at 0-3 in the SEC and 1-4 overall for the first time in the coaching career of Coach Richt. From that point forward though, QB Aaron Murray and the newly reinstated WR AJ Green took over. These two hooked up for nine TDs over the course of the final eight games of the season. The offense put together at least 31 points in each of its final seven games of the campaign thanks to the play of Green, who ended up with 771 yards on the year, and RB Washaun Ealey, who had 751 yards and 11 trips to the end zone. Murray has a lot of growing to do as a signal caller, but it is clear that the future is bright in Athens. This freshman threw three of his six picks against the Florida Gators back on October 30th, but he also threw half of his 24 TD passes in his final four games of the year. Murray ended the year with 2,851 yards, and he is going to be expected to reach the 3,000 yard barrier for the year in this game. Georgia does have a major problem on defense right now, as its last four opponents from FBS conferences have scored at least 31 points against it and have averaged 37.0 points per game.
The Final Word: Though the Knights have yet to win a bowl game in their history, they have been excruciatingly close in recent years. Unfortunately, this is probably going to be another one of these games in which UCF plays its heart out, but when push comes to shove, Green is going to make the play that finds its way to beat this team. The Knights won’t embarrass themselves, but they won’t walk away with a win either in a game that could be a tremendous shootout.
Liberty Bowl Free Pick: UCF +6.5
Liberty Bowl Prediction: Georgia 41 – UCF 37