SEC: UCF Knights

Video: South Carolina 28, UCF 25

September, 28, 2013

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury, but Mike Davis scored three TDs to help South Carolina beat UCF 28-25.

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.


Liberty Bowl keys

December, 30, 2010
Here are three keys for Georgia on Friday in its AutoZone Liberty Bowl matchup with UCF:

1. Finish drives: Georgia got itself into trouble earlier this season by doing things to kill drives, whether it was turning the ball over in the red zone, committing silly penalties or simply not converting on third down. The Bulldogs were much better at finishing drives with touchdowns during the second half of the season, and part of that had to do with getting A.J. Green back in the lineup. They will need to continue that offensive efficiency against the Knights and not settle for field goals when they get close.

2. Block Bruce Miller: The Bulldogs were tied for fourth in the SEC this season in sacks allowed (22) and generally did a good job of protecting redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray. But in Miller, they will face one of the more productive pass-rushers in the country. The two-time Conference USA Player of the Year has 34 career sacks and is a big reason the Knights were 12th nationally in scoring defense this season, allowing just 18 points per game.

3. Make UCF one-dimensional: The Knights were balanced on offense this season, which took some of the pressure off of true freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey. The Bulldogs would like to put it all on Godfrey’s shoulders in this game, which entails shutting down UCF’s running game and giving the Knights no choice but to have to throw the football on just about every down.

Liberty Bowl: Georgia (6-6) vs. UCF (10-3)

December, 30, 2010
Georgia is making its 14th consecutive bowl appearance, and in doing so, will try and avoid its first losing season since 1996 when it takes on Conference USA champion UCF on Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Here’s a quick preview of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl:

WHO TO WATCH: This will likely be the last time we see Georgia junior receiver A.J. Green on a collegiate field. He’s rated as one of the top handful of prospects in the upcoming NFL draft and will almost certainly come out. The four-game suspension to start this season was unfortunate, but he came back with a strong finish, displaying his vast talents every step of the way. In single coverage, he’s been virtually unstoppable and has that combination of speed, size and great leaping ability that makes him one of the better receivers to come through the SEC in the past decade. Despite missing the first four games, Green still tied for the league lead with nine touchdown catches, and you can bet that quarterback Aaron Murray will look for him often against the Knights.

WHAT TO WATCH: Georgia’s defense put up respectable numbers overall in Todd Grantham’s first year on the job, but the Bulldogs weren’t especially good against the run. In fact, they ended the season by giving up 726 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in their last two games. Slowing down the Knights starts with slowing down their running game. They averaged 192.5 rushing yards per game this season, and freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey is a big part of that running attack with 546 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bulldogs would like to shut down UCF’s running game from the outset and put Godfrey in a position where he has to throw it 35-plus times.

WHY WATCH: It’s a battle of two of the most promising freshman quarterbacks in the country. Murray, a redshirt freshman, has accounted for 28 touchdowns this season (24 passing and four rushing) and can break the Georgia record with one more in the bowl game. With 2,851 passing yards, Murray also has a chance to become just the second SEC freshman ever to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. Godfrey became the first true freshman quarterback in FBS history to guide his team to a win in a conference championship game. He’s passed for 2,042 yards and 13 touchdowns and ranks sixth nationally in completion percentage (68.4 percent) and eighth nationally in pass efficiency rating (165.3).

PREDICTION: Georgia 37, UCF 24. The Bulldogs ended the season by scoring 30 points or more in their last seven games. Even though they won’t have backup running back Caleb King, they’re pretty much at full strength offensively, and Murray is playing like a veteran. UCF will hang in there for a while and score some points, but Georgia’s offensive firepower will prove to be too much.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

December, 6, 2010
Georgia Bulldogs (6-6) vs. UCF Knights (10-3)

Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Georgia take by SEC blogger Chris Low: For a while there, it looked like there was no way Georgia would keep alive its bowl streak, especially after losing four straight games for the first time in the Mark Richt era.

But the Bulldogs battled back and gained bowl eligibility on the final Saturday of the regular season with a 42-34 win over Georgia Tech, extending their bowl streak to 14 consecutive appearances.

The best part about this season for Georgia was the way redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray played. He’s passed for 2,851 yards this season, the second most ever for an SEC freshman quarterback. He’s thrown 24 touchdown passes and only six interceptions and also has four touchdowns runs.

Unfortunately, Murray didn’t have star receiver A.J. Green to throw to all season. Green was suspended by the NCAA for the first four games for selling one of his game jerseys, but he’s been a favorite target ever since returning.

The Bulldogs had their ups and downs in their first year in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense and still need to recruit to that scheme, in particular add some bigger defensive linemen. But junior outside linebacker Justin Houston certainly flourished. He’s second in the SEC with 10 sacks and is a blur coming off the edge.

UCF take by nation blogger Andrea Adelson: The Knights won their second Conference USA title on Saturday over SMU and hope that this win allows them to turn the corner and be taken seriously in Florida. After all, they have watched Florida, Florida State, Miami and even USF get all the headlines while they struggle for consistency.

This is actually the first season they have posted back-to-back winning campaigns since George O’Leary became coach in 2004. They have the best run defense and total defense in Conference USA and are led by defensive ends Bruce Miller and Darius Nall, and linebacker Derrick Hallman is the leader of the unit.

One point to watch -- cornerback Josh Robinson has been burned badly at times this season on the deep ball, so you can expect Georgia to take advantage with A.J. Green. Robinson did come up big against SMU because he knew the target would be on him. Well, it’s going to be even bigger against the Bulldogs.

The offense is balanced, and is led by a true freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey, who has been outstanding. UCF also has great depth at running back with Latavius Murray and Ronnie Weaver. The Knights need one more win to set the school record for most wins, but they are 0-3 in bowl appearances. Also, the Knights only own two wins over schools from AQ conferences -- Alabama (2000) and NC State (2007). So if they do want to be taken seriously, they need to win a game like this one.



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