Liberty Bowl preview: Can Dogs avoid first losing season in 14 years?

Please join the conversation on Jeff Schultz’s live blog during the game.

Previewing Georgia vs. Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl (3:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN):

3 storylines

  • 1. Winning season or losing season? Georgia enters the game with a 6-6 record. A victory would keep give the Bulldogs their 14th consecutive winning season, albeit barely. A loss would give the Bulldogs their first losing season since a 5-6 record in 1996, Jim Donnan’s first season as coach.
  • 2. A program-building game? Central Florida has made substantial strides in seven seasons under coach George O’Leary, winning two Conference USA championships and becoming nationally ranked for the first time (No. 24 in the latest coaches’ poll). A nationally televised bowl win over an SEC opponent would be a significant next step in the growth of the UCF program.
  • 3. Battle of the freshman quarterbacks. UCF’s Jeff Godfrey and UGA’s Aaron Murray are the nation’s top two freshmen quarterbacks in pass efficiency rating. Godfrey, a true freshman, ranks No. 8 overall with a 165.28 rating and Murray, a redshirt freshman, No. 9 with a 162.72 rating. The 5-foot-11, 182-pound Godfrey is a dual-threat quarterback who has passed for 2,042 yards and 13 touchdowns and run for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns. Godfrey has completed 68 percent of his passes, Murray 62 percent of his.

A Georgia win would …

  • Extend the Bulldogs’ bowl winning streak to five games.
  • Give the Dogs a 6-2 finish to this season after a 1-4 start.
  • Be the Dogs’ first victory this season over a ranked opponent.

A Central Florida win would …

  • Be UCF’s first-ever victory in a bowl game after losses to Nevada in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl, Mississippi State in the 2007 Liberty Bowl and Rutgers in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl.
  • Set a school record for victories in a season by the Knights, who are 10-3 entering the bowl.
  • Be the Knights’ ninth win in 10 games since a 2-2 start this season.

Keep an eye on …

  • For Georgia: Murray could break records held by Matthew Stafford, D.J. Shockley and Mike Bobo. Two touchdown passes would break Stafford’s UGA single-season record of 25, set in 2008. One touchdown pass or run would surpass Shockley for most total TDs accounted for in a UGA season, Murray already having matched Shockley’s 28 (24 passing, four running) in 2005. And Murray could clinch the UGA  single-season record for pass-efficiency rating, bettering Bobo’s mark of 155.8 in 1997.
  • For Central Florida: Bruce Miller was an all-county and all-region player at Woodstock High School, but he had no major-college scholarship offers until UCF discovered him. He has grown into the star of the UCF defense. The senior defensive end is the NCAA leader among active players in career sacks with 34. Two sacks on Friday would tie Miller with former Georgia star David Pollack for third place on the NCAA career sack list (since 2000, when the NCAA began keeping the stat).

The numbers game

  • 26-16-3: Georgia’s all-time record in bowl games. (The Bulldogs rank fourth nationally in bowl victories and are tied for fifth in bowl appearances.)
  • 1-1: Georgia’s record in the Liberty Bowl, losing to Jim Donnan-quarterbacked N.C. State 14-7 in 1967 and beating Arkansas 20-17 in 1987 on freshman John Kasay’s 39-yard field goal on the game’s final play.

UGA-UCF history

  • Previous meeting: Georgia escaped with a 24-23 victory at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 25, 1999, in the only previous football game between UGA and UCF.  The Knights missed an extra point after scoring a touchdown with 5:21 to play but threatened to win the game on their final possession by driving to the Georgia 20-yard line.  Two penalties and a sack pushed the Knights out of field-goal range, and a Jamie Henderson interception ended the game.

The line

  • Georgia is a 6 ½-point favorite.

213 comments Add your comment

william cranman

December 30th, 2010
3:08 pm

First? Great column.

Paul H

December 30th, 2010
3:10 pm

MCG DAWG

December 30th, 2010
3:12 pm

LET THE BIG DAWG EAT!

bgdawg

December 30th, 2010
3:16 pm

ranked or not its still ucf GO DAWGS

Alabama Blackout = Beginning of the End

December 30th, 2010
3:24 pm

Georgia might want to take this game very seriously. I watched UCF beat SMU for their confernce title game and they are a pretty good team. Their qb is very athletic and passes the ball very acurately.

IF UGA loses this game, then opens the season next year with a Boise State lost we can all kiss CMR goodbye.

Destin Dawg

December 30th, 2010
3:25 pm

It should be an even/close game.. if not a great game… Richt should use it as a learning experience for his younger players to build for the future… forget the red shirts… better progarms will play true Frosh… Go Dawgs !!!

Dan Mullen

December 30th, 2010
3:29 pm

Am I getting the UGA job offered to me after Richt loses to UCF or Boise?

Dawg_Mike

December 30th, 2010
3:32 pm

UGA will win this game based on several factors, but most of all they have better athletes overall.
Murray will set the record(s) and AJ will shine in his last game wearing the red and black.

GO DAWGS!!!

Dawg_Mike

December 30th, 2010
3:33 pm

Mullen will not be offered any job. If he wasnt interested in returning to the Swamp why would he be interested in going anywhere other than Starkvegas?

ugab

December 30th, 2010
3:37 pm

Seems like a great match up. I hope MR has the boys ready for this game. MR hopefully learned his lesson not practicing enough the year we played WV.

ugab

December 30th, 2010
3:38 pm

Mullen is a great coach!!! All access!!!

David

December 30th, 2010
3:40 pm

Just gets grimmer ever year for UGA fans.

10-2 in 2007
9-3 in 2008
7-5 in 2009
6-6 in 2010

Can’t wait to see what Richt has in store for 2011, 5-7 or 4-6?

Van

December 30th, 2010
3:42 pm

Murray does good against non-SEC teams.

South GA Dawg

December 30th, 2010
3:43 pm

We could always hire Jerry Glanville.

Joe

December 30th, 2010
3:45 pm

Richt might win a Bowl game, but his schedule in 2011 is brutal.

Richt has to face so many teams with a better record like Boise, Aub, Ark, Florida, SC, Miss St. 6 teams better than him.

Then he faces 3 equal coaches: Georgia Tech, Tennessee & Kentucky.

Tough 9 games, expect Richt to end his career in 2011, the Liberty will be his last bowl game as a Georgia coach, hopefully, he loses, and McGarity fires him so 2011 isn’t wasted.

Paul H

December 30th, 2010
3:45 pm

Here is the truth. There is no way UGA shouldn’t win this game by 28. Throw it to AJ a lot. The end.

UCF doesn’t have anyone who can stop him. Keep it simple, don’t start getting all conservative when we get a lead. It SHOULD NOT be that complicated.

Everett

December 30th, 2010
3:47 pm

Paul, we tried that plan against Colorado and Florida and Auburn. AJ isn’t the answer.

Paul H

December 30th, 2010
3:49 pm

Joe, what are you smoking?

1. UGA has a very favorable schedule.

2. “Equal” coaches in GT, UK and UT? Are you serious right now? When those “equal” coaches win 2 conference championships and 2 BCS bowls, get back to me.

3. Of the 6 teams “better” than Richt that you named, not one should be better next year, and Auburn is the only team of those 6 truly better than UGA this year.

4. Lay off the drugs. Please.

Everett

December 30th, 2010
3:51 pm

The Aaron Murray “lost year” of 2010, 6-6, can you guys believe this? Unreal. I didn’t think ANYONE could be worse than Joe Cox’s 7-5 season. Thank goodness it’s almost over. 3 or 4 more interceptions and we can end this experiment.

Hello Hutson Mason and Christian Lemay.

Paul H

December 30th, 2010
3:51 pm

Everett, not throwing it to AJ early and often against an inferior opponent would be dumb. There is no need to out-think this game. I’m pretty sure there are 118 other teams in FBS who would greatly consider AJ to be an answer.

how2fish

December 30th, 2010
3:51 pm

David we will beat your team next year…take it to the bank.

Paul H

December 30th, 2010
3:53 pm

Everett now you’ve truly lost me. The numbers speak for themselves on Murray.

David

December 30th, 2010
3:54 pm

You UGA fans don’t read the trends very closely, 10-2 to 9-3 to 7-5 to 6-6, what’s next, 4-8?

how2fish

December 30th, 2010
3:55 pm

Joe truly your smoking the good stuff…how can you say with certainty that either Auburn, Ark or UF will be better next year given the loss of talent or coaching at those schools…it a reach no logical person would take.

Everett

December 30th, 2010
3:56 pm

Geez, even Joe Cox coulld beat the Auburns, Arkansas, and SC’s. Murray, not so much. Murray likes to beat up on La Lafayette.

buckeyedawg

December 30th, 2010
3:57 pm

joe anyone that hopes the dawgs loose needs to go support another team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

harold

December 30th, 2010
3:59 pm

AVERAGE FOOTBALL TEAM.AVERAGE COACHES!

Paul H

December 30th, 2010
3:59 pm

David, this is a UGA blog. If you want to talk smack, at least have the b@lls to divulge who your team is.

Joe

December 30th, 2010
4:00 pm

Auburn has recruited like crazy, they’re loaded and get better every year, DL won’t be able to stop their rushing attack.

Petrino often scores a ton of points.

Florida- Richt’s what, 2-8?

Destin Dawg

December 30th, 2010
4:01 pm

Richt FINALLY needs to open up.. aggressive play calling.. WAY TOO predictable and boring… let Grantham, Belin and Lakatos coach up the RENEWED Junkyard DAWGS…. BEFORE ITS TOO LATE !!!!!!

how2fish

December 30th, 2010
4:01 pm

Everett what year did you fluke out of Bug U ?

how2fish

December 30th, 2010
4:03 pm

Joe Auburn will be lucky to be bowl eligible next year and they return to being UGA’s bitch.

David

December 30th, 2010
4:05 pm

Georgia fans arn’t even buying up 10,000 tickets to a Bowl game. They’re all tired of losing and underachieving over the last few seasons. Who can blame them. Year’s of top recruiting classes, to go 7-5 & 6-6? What a collosal waste of talent.

Joe

December 30th, 2010
4:06 pm

Murray is winless against teams with a winning record. UCF is 10-3. Uh-Oh. Murray plays his best against losing teams.

What???

December 30th, 2010
4:07 pm

Everett – Way to display your vast ignorance for all the world to see. Aaron Murray is one of the only reasons that I have any hope that next year will be better. Please see Tim Tucker’s article on how many records Murray is going to break this year. You are an IDIOT!!!

Buckeye

December 30th, 2010
4:12 pm

7 and 6 is so much better than 6 and 7. I can hear the 4 and 5 star recruits changing their minds as we speak.

PHIL

December 30th, 2010
4:12 pm

Dan Mullen no you are not getting a job offer. Oh you might, but there are hundreds of those who are much more qualified than you to coach here on the AJC blogs, just read the posts and you will see.

virginia dog

December 30th, 2010
4:12 pm

the mark richt watch starts tomorrow. You got a like the Maryland AD. He thinks maryland can do better… Kinda makes you wonder why our new AD did not do the same.

Flyin' Dawg

December 30th, 2010
4:15 pm

Tell me again how many points Aubarn gave up per game this year? And who among their top defensive players are returning? And their offense will be better because who will be their QB?

Michael

December 30th, 2010
4:22 pm

Hope Georgia scores first.

Georgia gives up if the other teams scores first.

0-6 in 2010 when other team scores first.

Just quits after that.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

December 30th, 2010
4:23 pm

If we win it is the 1st against a ranked opponenet all year. Wow, that is pretty telling. What a long season it has been.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

December 30th, 2010
4:23 pm

Ewww, should be opponent

Derrick

December 30th, 2010
4:23 pm

One thing we can count on. Mike Bobo will not get a 100 yard rusher, even though Richt’s record is 43-3 when that happens.

Bobo is so smart.

Alan

December 30th, 2010
4:28 pm

UCF’s QB Godfrey is amazing. Top 10 ranked in the country, as a freshman in both compeltion % (68%) and pass efficiency.

Want to trade for 6-6 QB Murray?

Orson

December 30th, 2010
4:30 pm

Look for UCF to gash UGA’s undersized 3 man d line with the run. Don’t know why UGA went to the 3-4 after losing 3 dl’s to the NFL. 3 undersized DL going up against 5-6 blockers, do the math.

shalalalaquandra

December 30th, 2010
4:32 pm

yo joe weve played arkansas 2 years in a row.learn some SEC football bro

Paul

December 30th, 2010
4:32 pm

UCF is the first defense ranked in the top 30 in scoring Murray has faced. Should be interesting. Although they’re not very good against the pass, are pretty stout against the run, and don’t give up a lot of points.

GDBurdell

December 30th, 2010
4:35 pm

Everyone knows that the only game that really matters to the UGA faithful is the one with GT and we continue to plaster them every year. I will enjoy knowing that GT and CPJ are well aware that the bloom is off the rose and that the record lately is 7-9 over two years and two bowls. This proves that GT is a downtrending program and the KING of the Triple Option just got shown how you do it, by mighty AF.

bwwwwwwwwwwAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

PS FOX news caster Harris Faulkner two nights ago mentioned in her 6PM FOX broadcast that the AF mascot falcon got lost for awhile but that “it did not stop AF from BEATING GT”, she said. AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA

This is a successful year because GT was smoked again in their bowl and we put them in their place….. AGAIN!!
AAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Paul

December 30th, 2010
4:42 pm

The last time Murray faced a game with big expectations, he threw three interceptions and fumbled once. He doesn’t handle ressure too well, especially against winning teams, where Murray is WINLESS.

Some amazing posts on here

December 30th, 2010
4:45 pm

1. How many coaches would take UCF’s quarterback over Murray? Out of 120 D-1 teams, you could probably get less than 5 coaches to do that.
2. How many coaches would take their college quarterback over Murray for 2011? My guess, is the number could be counted on one hand, two at the most.
3. To those anti-Dog fans who posted the declining records of the last few years, have you ever heard of bottoming out. UGA did that this year, will be headed back up this season.
4. Dream Team looks like a reality. Finally will put the UGA talent on a more even level with Florida, Bama, and LSU. Those schools have outmanned the Dogs the last few years with the game-changing 5 star recruits. Georgia has been doing battle with 3 and 4 star athletes with a smaller number of 5 stars than the SEC schools at the top. Look for that disparity to begin to end in February.