NCF Nation: 2010 Liberty Bowl analysis

Instant analysis: UCF 10, Georgia 6

December, 31, 2010
UCF won its first bowl game in school history Friday, beating Georgia 10-6 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

Here’s an instant analysis from the game:

How the game was won: Georgia converted twice on fourth down on its final drive, including a 30-yard completion from Aaron Murray to Kris Durham down to the UCF 29. But Murray was sacked on second down by Bruce Miller, and two plays later, Murray’s fourth-down heave into the end zone was knocked down as time expired.

Turning point: The Bulldogs were leading 6-3 early in the fourth quarter, and neither team had been able to finish drives. But the Knights put together the only touchdown drive of the game, going 65 yards in 11 plays to take a 10-6 lead on Latavius Murray’s 10-yard touchdown run up the middle. The Knights converted twice on third down in the game-winning drive and only had three third-down conversions all game.

Player of the game: In what was almost certainly his final game in a Georgia uniform, A.J. Green had eight catches for 77 yards, but was kept out of the end zone.

Stat of the game: Georgia ended the regular season by scoring 31 or more points in its last seven games, but was limited to two field goals against UCF. It’s the second time this season the Bulldogs were held without a touchdown.

Second guessing: On its first possession of the game, Georgia drove all the way from its own 2 to the UCF 3 in 15 plays and needed less than a yard for the first down. But Georgia coach Mark Richt elected to kick the short field goal rather than go for it, and the Bulldogs managed just one more field goal the rest of the game.

What Georgia learned: As if the Bulldogs needed to be reminded, it was another sobering reminder of just how much this team underachieved this season. The roster was laden with future NFL talent, but Georgia somehow managed to finish with its first losing season (6-7) since 1996.

What it means: In short, Richt is on the kind of slippery slope from which he may not be able to recover. He’ll be back next season, but will have a hard time surviving another season where he loses four or five games. This was his first losing season, and he’s now lost 12 games in his last two seasons. Something’s obviously missing in this program. The Bulldogs are far more talented than they’ve played the last couple of years. Chances are that Richt will only get one more year to fix it.


Instant Analysis: UCF 10, Georgia 6

December, 31, 2010
UCF beat Georgia 10-6 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Friday afternoon. Here is a quick instant analysis:

How the game was won: UCF had to overcome plenty of adversity. UCF had a kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game taken off the board because of a penalty. Freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey hurt his ankle early in the game and was gimpy for the rest of it. He threw two early interceptions, and receivers dropped plenty of balls. UCF also lost linebacker Derrick Hallman to an ankle injury and running back Ronnie Weaver to a shoulder injury. But the UCF defense kept the Knights in the game, with two interceptions off Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and a fierce pass rush -- what you come to expect from the top defense in Conference USA. The UCF offense was finally able to put a touchdown on the board in the fourth quarter. After that, the UCF offense went conservative, and gave the ball back to Georgia with 2:20 to go. The Bulldogs drove down the field, thanks to two fourth-down conversions. But Bruce Miller had a huge sack, forcing Georgia into a Hail Mary situation with no time on the clock. UCF batted it down in the end zone for its first bowl win in school history.

Turning point: UCF finally took advantage of a long drive in the fourth quarter, going 11 plays for 65 yards to take a 10-6 lead with 9:01 to play. Latavius Murray scored on the 10-yard run, but the biggest key on that drive was a 10-yard third-down completion from Godfrey to Brian Watters. That conversion gave the Knights a first-and-goal at the 10 and set up the winning touchdown.

Stat of the game: 6. Georgia tied its season-low point total.

Player of the game: Murray was able to run through some holes in the Georgia defense and also had the longest play of the day, an 18-yard run, in addition to the game-winning touchdown. He finished with 18 carries for 104 yards, his second 100-yard game of the season.

Unsung hero of the game: UCF defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable. His game plan slowed down a Georgia offense that had scored 30-plus points in seven straight games. Georgia had no running lanes, and the UCF defense was relentless on Murray. Not only that, UCF completely took away the big play from the Bulldogs. A.J. Green may have led the team with eight receptions for 77 yards, but his longest reception of the day was only 18 yards.

What it means: UCF not only won its first bowl game in four appearances, the Knights also won 11 games for the first time in school history and got their third ever victory over an FBS opponent. No question this has been the best season in school history, with the school's first Top 25 ranking and another Conference USA championship. Now the big question is whether UCF can use this as the next step to elevate its program. There has always been talk that UCF is a sleeping giant, and now finally UCF can proclaim it has something over the other FBS teams in the state -- more wins than they do. UCF cannot waste this season's success.