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AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Published on December 31, 2011 by   ·   1 Comment

liberty-bowl-logoThe Liberty Bowl is another one of the original bowl games having been in operation since 1959. The original Liberty Bowl was held in Philadelphia because the man who created it wanted to see the city host a bowl game. The attendance was always low because of the cold weather. The bowl game was subsequently moved to Atlantic City then to its final stop in Memphis in 1965.

This bowl game was first an at-large game where top teams that weren’t in title contention squared off. In the 1980’s and early 90’s, the bowl game often awarded a spot to the winner of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy between the military schools if the school was bowl eligible. Since 1995, the Conference USA champion has played in the Liberty Bowl against a several different conferences.

The current arrangement for the Liberty Bowl is that the winner of the C-USA championship game will play against the eighth selection from the SEC. If either conference doesn’t have enough teams eligible for the bowl game, a Big East team will go in their spot.

2011-liberty-bowl

This year’s Liberty Bowl matches up the Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3) and the Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6). The kickoff for this game will be Friday, December 31 at 3:30PM ET. You can watch the game on ESPN or listen on ESPN Radio.

This is undoubtedly another down year for the Big East. But, this is their most favorable bowl matchup. Cincinnati played well all year long except for a 2 game slide that cost them a chance at a BCS bid.

Vanderbilt is the perennial doormat of the SEC. However, they have always proven that they can be a thorn in the side of a lot of different teams. Their tough schedule usually leaves them under .500 and not bowl eligible. This year, they were able to ride a 4-0 non-conference schedule and finished 6-6.

The Commodores had several close losses, with the 4th quarter collapse against Arkansas being the freshest in my mind. They are currently favored by 1 1/2 points on the strength of their 41-7 beat down at Wake Forest to become bowl eligible. They have not beaten a team with a winning record (Wake Forest ended the year 6-7).

Both of these teams are located close to Memphis and neither team should have an overwhelming home field advantage. I think that the difference in this game is going to be the fact that Cincinnati wins close games and Vanderbilt loses close games.

Prediction

Let’s hope that this Liberty Bowl is going to be better than last year. Georgia and Central Florida played in a 10-6 game that was highlighted by a celebratory punch by a CFU player at the end of the game.

The Bearcats should be able to pull this one out. I have Cincinnati winning this matchup by the final score of 30-23.


2010 Liberty Bowl

Previous Bowl Results

The SEC is a perfect 4-0 against the C-USA champion since the current arrangement has been in place; although every game was decided by fewer than 10 points. Central Florida lost in the 2007 Liberty Bowl 10-3 against the MSU Bulldogs.

2007-liberty-bowl-photo

Georgia won its bowl game last year, beating the Texas A&M Aggies 44-20 in the Independence Bowl. Georgia’s overall bowl record is quite good; they are 26-16-3 all-time.

Central Florida has failed to win a bowl game in three tries so far. They lost badly last year in the St Petersburg Bowl to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 45-24.

Liberty Bowl Breakdown

RecordsCentral Florida: 10-3; Georgia: 6-6
All Time Bowl RecordCentral Florida: 0-3; Georgia: 26-16-3
Key WinsCentral Florida: East Carolina 49-35, SMU 17-7; Georgia: Tennessee 41-14, Kentucky 44-31, Georgia Tech 42-34
Key LossesCentral Florida: NC State 28-21, Kansas State 17-13; Georgia: South Carolina 17-6, Colorado 29-27, Auburn 49-31

Central Florida’s schedule was fairly easy this year. They lost to the number 2 team in the East, Southern Miss, and beat the rest of the relatively weak division. They did not have to play a good Tulsa team that many may think is the best team in C-USA (beating Hawaii badly) because SMU won a tiebreaker and was the West division representative to the conference championship game.

They played two good non-conference opponents, but lost to both teams by a combined 11 points. With East Carolina and SMU losing their bowl games, they no longer have a win on their schedule against a team with a winning record and only one against a team with a .500 record (SMU 7-7). This is a long winded way for me to say that they haven’t beaten anyone important yet.

Georgia has played horrible at times this year. They lost at Colorado because they fumbled the football in the waning minutes when they had a chance to win the game on a late field goal. That loss made them 1-4 with a four game losing streak.

They put together a three game winning streak that included an impressive win over Kentucky on the road. Then they lost an overtime game to Florida at home. They played Auburn tough, jumping out to a 21-7 lead before Auburn put on the afterburners. They became bowl eligible when they beat their rival Georgia Tech in a shootout.

Points For/GameCentral Florida: 33.8; Georgia: 34.3
Points Against/GameCentral Florida: 18.0; Georgia: 23.1
Offensive Yards/GameCentral Florida: 384; Georgia: 394

Statistically, UCF looks like the better team. But I can’t overstate the fact that the SEC is 4-0 in this matchup of eighth best versus conference champion. Conference USA just doesn’t have the teams to compete against the other conferences. UCF is the last C-USA team to play and the conference is a paltry 1-4 in bowl games this year.

Georgia might have had a bad year this year, but they were able to squeeze out enough wins to make a bowl game in a tougher conference. Until a C-USA opponent can prove me wrong, I’m going to pick the SEC team every time.

Prediction

I think I made my selection clear enough above. Georgia will win 27-14.

Bowl Game Results

Well what do you know. The Conference USA champs can beat a mediocre SEC team. But the score was not overly impressive as Central Florida wins 10-6.

2010 Bowl Record – 10-11

Highlights from Previous Liberty Bowls

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. […] State has not played in a bowl game since they beat Central Florida 10-3 in the 2007 Liberty Bowl. They have not been to a lot of bowl games but do have a 7-6 record in those […]




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