2009 Independence Bowl Odds and Predictions
by Jay Horne - 12/17/2009
Texas A&M Aggies (6-6) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (7-5)
Date: Dec. 28
Location: Independence Stadium Shreveport, Louisiana
Spread: Georgia -7, 64 total
Last year the Independence Bowl had to settle for a pair of less popular teams from the MAC and Sun Belt Conferences due to a lack of bowl eligible teams from the usual Independence Bowl-affiliated conferences. However, this year the game will return to its roots as it will feature a battle from schools representing the SEC and Big 12 when the Georgia Bulldogs collide with the Texas A&M Aggies in a battle between two of the premier conferences in college football.
Georgia Coach Mark Richt has felt a lot of heat for the Bulldogs subpar season. In fact, with another loss the Bulldogs would finish at just seven wins on the year, which would be the worst season record since the 1996 campaign. Even with a victory it would be the worst record since Richt's first season as coach back in 2001. However, the Bulldogs did score a big victory against rival Georgia Tech in the season finale and to wrap up a bowl victory would make up for the mid-season struggles. Also, the Bulldogs were taken out by a Big 12 team in their opener, a 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State, so now they have a chance to get revenge on the conference.
Texas A&M has to find a way to rebound after losing three of their final four games. Despite having one of the most potent offenses in the Big 12, the Aggies only managed a 6-6 record. However, the opportunity at a bowl victory should grab a lot of attention. After all, the Aggies have failed to win a postseason game since the 2001 season and capping off the season with a bowl win would definitely prove that Mike Sherman has the program headed in the right direction in just his second year as coach.
The Independence Bowl will feature a highly dangerous offense out of the Big 12 against an SEC defense that has been known for their success in out-of-conference meetings. In fact, this matchup of offense vs. defense reflects a lot of what we will see in the National Championship Game between Texas and Alabama, who represent the same conferences.
The Aggies offense is possibly one of the most balanced in the country, averaging 465 yards per game -- that ranks fifth nationally. QB Jerrod Johnson has completed 60 percent of his throws on the year while netting 3,217 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. Also, running backs Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray are equally dangerous backs averaging five yards per carry while combining for more than 1,500 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns.
A big question mark for the Aggies is whether their offense can move the ball that easily against the Georgia defense that has allowed just 328 yards per game this season?
The Bulldogs allowed just 18 points per game during their last four games and it will be interesting to see if their quick defensive line can beat the Aggies up front to cause problems. Of course, the Aggies defense has been fairly horrible this year, giving up more than 32 points per game, so the Bulldogs will look for senior QB Joe Cox to have a big game throwing the football. WR A.J Green may just be the best wide receiver the SEC has to offer and should be able to give the Aggie secondary all kinds of problems. Still, the Bulldogs defense will be the deciding factor and if they are able to slow down the Texas A&M offense.
This bowl game is one of the only games that has not endured a shift from the opening number and the Bulldogs are holding steady as seven-point favorites. The total for the contest opened at 64, but there has been some slight movement with most sportsbooks currently offering 65.
Independence Bowl Odds and Trends
The money line odds currently have Georgia listed as -290 favorites while the Aggies are receiving +240 odds to win the game.
Texas A&M has won four of their last six games ATS and has gone 'over' the total in five of their last seven games. However, the Aggies are just 1-7 SU in their last eight bowl games. Georgia, on the other hand, has been inconsistent all season and holds a disappointing 4-7 mark ATS this season. They have fared well in bowl games, though, as they have won six of their past seven and 10 of their last 12 bowl contests.
Independence Bowl Predictions
The SEC teams have done well in the bowl games and hold a 7-2 mark over the Big 12 in Independence Bowl history. The Bulldogs conquered an Arkansas team that is very similar to the Texas A&M team that has a potent offense backed by a less-than-stellar defense. Georgia ended the year with a big victory in the rivalry game to Georgia Tech and I believe they build on that momentum. Take Georgia -7.
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