NCF Nation: AdvoCare V100 Independence 2009 bowls

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl preview

December, 26, 2009
12/26/09
10:17
PM ET
The first of eight bowl games involving Big 12 teams will start with the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl on Monday (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET) between Georgia (7-5) and Texas A&M (6-6):

Who to watch: Jerrod Johnson. After having the finest statistical season in history by a Texas A&M quarterback, Johnson will be looking for a capper that could catapult him into early 2010 Heisman contention. When he’s most effective, the Aggies mix running plays as well as his passing to take advantage of Johnson’s arm and deep threats like Uzoma Nwachukwu and Jeff Fuller. He could be poised for a huge game against a suspect Georgia secondary that could be struggling without three assistants who were fired after the end of the season. In A&M's six wins and the loss to Texas, Johnson completed 72 percent of his passes. He'll have to be on for Texas A&M to succeed against the Bulldogs.

What to watch: Texas A&M’s ability to stop Georgia’s running game. The Aggies ranked last in the Big 12 in total defense and twice gave up 60 points this season. Although Joe Cox and D.J. Green will present a sizable challenge through the air, the Aggies can’t be playing behind the sticks against the Bulldogs’ rapidly improving running game. Washaun Ealey and Caleb King produced 349 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ season-ending upset against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs averaged 217 yards rushing during the final six games, after averaging 97.1 in the first six, and will test the Aggies in the trenches from the opening snap.

Why watch: Sure, the battle between the Bulldogs and the Aggies appears to be one of the weakest of all of the bowl games. But the offensive styles of both teams should ensure a high-scoring game that still should be entertaining to watch. And the first of three bowl battles between the Big 12 and the Southeastern conferences always provides bragging rights between proud supporters of both leagues.

Prediction: Even with the uncertainty in Georgia’s defensive coaching staff, the Bulldogs should have enough firepower to win a wild game. The Aggies will have their moments but can’t be counted to consistently stop Georgia’s running game. Look for the Bulldogs to control the clock and claim a narrow 45-38 victory.

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl preview

December, 26, 2009
12/26/09
9:56
PM ET
Breaking down the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl on Monday (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET) between Georgia (7-5) and Texas A&M (6-6):

WHO TO WATCH: Even though he started in only two games and played in just eight, Georgia freshman running back Washaun Ealey was the Bulldogs’ most consistent and most explosive offensive threat when the regular season ended. He piled up 183 rushing yards in the 30-24 victory over Georgia Tech and led the Bulldogs with 639 yards on the season. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry and seemed to get better every time he touched the ball in November. Ealey scored a staggering 133 touchdowns in high school, and once he got his chance midway through this season, it was obvious that he had big-time talent. He averaged 111.7 yards on the ground in his last four games.

WHAT TO WATCH: Keep an eye on the scoreboard. It may be in perpetual motion. Neither one of these teams has done a good job of stopping anyone this season, which means the scoreboard could be in for a workout. The Aggies rank 107th nationally in total defense and gave up 35 or more points in all six of their losses. The Bulldogs also had their struggles on defense and were especially vulnerable against the pass, which means Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson could be in for a big day.

WHY WATCH: With Georgia coach Mark Richt firing three of his defensive assistants, including coordinator Willie Martinez, the Bulldogs are down to one defensive coach on their staff -- tackles coach Rodney Garner. It’s obviously been a tough season in Athens. But winning the bowl game, especially coming off the win over Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale, would help ease some of the pain this offseason. Plus, the Bulldogs haven’t lost six games in a season since 1996, which was Jim Donnan’s first season as coach.

PREDICTION: If you like a lot of points, this is one you don’t want to miss. But with Caleb King and Ealey pumping some new life into the Georgia running game at the end of the season -- and the Bulldogs’ offensive line playing much better down the stretch -- look for Georgia to control the tempo and keep the Texas A&M offense off the field. Georgia 38, Texas A&M 23.

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