MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Nick Chubb ran for 142 yards and a touchdown Friday as Georgia beat TCU 31-23 in the Liberty Bowl to win a bowl game for the third straight year.
Georgia (8-5) restored some pride to the Southeastern Conference with its bowl victory. The SEC had entered the day with a 1-4 bowl record, a major step back for a league that had gone 9-2 in bowl games last year to set a record for bowl victories.
The Bulldogs had won the Belk Bowl two seasons ago and the TaxSlayer Bowl last year. Georgia’s latest bowl victory sent TCU (6-7) to only its third losing year in Gary Patterson’s 16 full seasons as coach.
In a game that featured numerous momentum changes, Rodrigo Blankenship put Georgia ahead for good with 13:27 left by kicking a 30-yard field goal. Blankenship’s kick was set up by Chubb’s 48-yard burst on the final play of the third period.
Brandon Hatfield was wide right on a 47-yard field goal attempt that would have put TCU ahead with 7:57 remaining. He earlier had missed a 41-yard field goal and an extra-point attempt.
Georgia then went on a 70-yard drive that was capped by Chubb’s 13-yard touchdown run with 2:48 left. Deandre Baker clinched the victory by breaking up Kenny Hill’s fourth-and-4 pass from the Georgia 44 with 1:14 remaining.
Jacob Eason threw touchdown passes to Javon Wims and Sony Michel, who also rushed for 87 yards. Isaiah McKenzie had four catches for 103 yards, including a 77-yarder that set up a touchdown. Trenton Thompson recorded three sacks for Georgia and was named the game’s most valuable player.
Hill threw two touchdown passes to John Diarse and ran for a third score.
Georgia: This matchup turned into a heck of a cat-and-mouse game between Hill and Georgia’s front seven on defense. Hill created plenty of big plays with his mobility, but Georgia also sacked him five times and forced him to fumble once.
TCU: Missed opportunities haunted the Horned Frogs, thanks in part to the struggles of the kicking game. Hatfield had an extra-point attempt hit an upright, and he missed a 41-yard field goal that would have extended TCU’s lead to 19-7. After Hatfield missed that field-goal attempt, Georgia scored 14 straight points to take the lead.
The Frogs also decided to kick an extra point to go ahead 23-21 rather than attempting a two-point conversion that could have made it a three-point game late in the third quarter. That proved costly when Blankenship’s field goal early in the fourth quarter put Georgia ahead for good instead of merely tying the game.
Georgia: will open the 2017 season Sept. 2 against Camellia Bowl champion Appalachian State.
TCU: kicks off the 2017 season Sept. 2 by hosting Football Championship Subdivision program Jackson State.