In the preview, I felt that the score in this game would be low because of poor execution by the offenses.
The final score was Georgia 44, Texas A&M 20. That needs to be broken down. There was a grand total of 0 points for the first 27:27 of the game (that's actual game clock time and not TV viewing time). All of a sudden the Aggies put together a 75 yard, 9 play, drive in a little over two minutes and put a pass in the end zone on a Jerrod Johnson roll out. This show of offensive capability angered the special teams gods. Texas A&M had already sacrificed a blocked FG to try to appease them. They were not pleased and gave to Georgia the gift of a terrible squib kickoff returned to the house immediately following the Aggie TD and the ballgame was tied at 7. The Aggies tried and failed to run an offense after the Georgia kickoff and set up to punt. An unblocked Bulldog got the ball, another one scooped the ball and fell on the two yard line. A play later, Dawgs were in the end zone falling on a fumble of their rush attempt, 14-7, UGA leads. The Aggies tied the game on their first drive of the second half (to Texas A&M fans feeling 'jobbed' for not getting to kick a FG at the end of the first half, the ref didn't wait for Jordan Jefferson at the END of the Ole Miss game, so feel lucky that you think you have something to complain about). In return, Georgia appeased the special teams gods with a FG to show gratitude for the good fortune they had received.
Those thankless Aggies were met with a muffed punt on their next drive and Joe Cox channeled all the QB within himself to throw a 24 yard TD pass. The lead was increased to 24-14.
Then reality finally set in. Mark Richt had the brilliant idea to demand that Mike Sherman's defense stop his power running game. By the end of the game, Georgia (which had a total of 99 yards for the first half) had 208 rush yards. The running game led to 3 TD drives in the 4th quarter to push the score out to the ridiculous margin of 44-14. It would have been 45 but Richt put in the backup kicker for the XP and he let loose a sidewinder missile which had no chance of even striking an upright--coaches, you will respect those special teams gods, or else. The Aggies threatened to score a couple of times before their garbage time TD pass and failed 2 pt conversion attempt, but Jerrod Johnson killed two drives by sailing passes into the welcoming hands of wide open Georgia defenders.
Mike Sherman rolled out the wrong strategy by having Johnson throw the ball fifty-eight (58) times. You run the ball to beat 2009 Georgia, see here, you throw screens and make Joe Cox be the one to beat you (because he won't), see here. I'll save you from more highlights and get down to basics, you run the ball for 120+ yards and you make Joe Cox throw 30+ times. All of UGA's losses involved that formula, except the loss to Florida where Cox only needed 20 passes to throw 3 INTs. Florida made up for the extra 10 passes by going over 200 yards on the ground. In the Independence Bowl, the Aggies barely got over 100 yards on the ground and Joe Cox attempted 28 throws. Including this bowl game, in games where Jerrod Johnson has attempted 40+ passes, the Aggies record is 2-6. The two wins: New Mexico (1-11) and Utah State (4-8)--and the Utah State game final score was 38-30.
Thus ends 14 years of the Independence Bowl tie-in with the SEC. LSU played Michigan State (and future Coach Nick Saban) in the first game of the tie-in and won 45-26. This was a bowl game for SEC pariahs (Ole Miss has the record of 5 appearances) but they left a trail of destruction in their wake even before the conference tie-in. SEC record in the game 11-3 (1991 saw Georgia 24 v. Arkansas 15-therefore exempt from avg. score), average score, SEC team 36.3 v. at-large team 27.5.
I improved to 3-4 in bowl picks, Mr. Lincoln dropped his first game and is 2-1.
Bowl Challenge Standings
MWC 3-0 1.000 Pt. differential: 41
Sun Belt 1-0 1.000 (Dwight Dasher swagger boost override) Pt. differential: 10
Big East 2-0 1.000 Pt. differential: 23
SEC 1-1 .500 Pt. differential: 16 (risin' up)
C-USA 2-2 .500 Pt. differential: 8
ACC 1-2 . 333 Pt. differential: -5
Pac 10 1-2 .333 Pt. differential: -23
MAC 0-1 .000 Pt. differential: -4
Big 12 0-1 .000 Pt. differential: -24 (not a good start)
WAC 0-2 .000 Pt. differential: -42