No. 11 Georgia (10-3) vs. No. 12 Purdue (9-3)
Kickoff: January 1st 1 p.m.
Stadium: Citrus Bowl (65,438), Orlando, Fla.
Tickets: Available at the gate for $65
Kickoff weather: High of 77, low of 57; partly cloudy; zero percent
chance of rain
Odds: Georgia favored by 3 points
Injuries: Georgia -- Probable: TE Martrez Milner (ankle); Out: OL
Bartley Miller (ankle). Purdue -- Probable: TE Jeff Bennett (knee).
Georgia rush offense vs. Purdue rush defense
The Bulldogs are coming off their worst rushing performance of the
season. They gained only 50 yards, averaging 2 yards per carry, against
LSU. Freshman Kregg Lumpkin continued what appears to be his slow march
toward the starting spot with 54 yards. (The Bulldogs had only 50 yards
as a team because of minus-49 yards due to sacks.) The Bulldogs have yet
to have a 100-yard rusher in any game. "We didn't give our backs the
opportunity to carry it enough to get 100 yards in a game, although they
are allowed to run more than 5 or 6 yards at a time," Coach Mark Richt
said. The rushing doesn't figure to get much better Thursday with guard
Josh Brock nursing an extra sore shoulder and guard Bartley Miller out
due to an ankle injury. Purdue starts three seniors on the defensive
line and ranks 10th in the country in rush defense (95 yards per game).
Purdue rush offense vs. Georgia rush defense
Sophomore Jerod Void, 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, is already seventh on
Purdue's career rushing touchdowns list with 23. He has 13 this season,
one shy of the Boilermakers' single-season record shared by three
players, including Mike Alstott. Georgia is 16th in the nation in
rushing defense (105.7 yards per game) but is coming off its worst
performance against the rush, giving up 293 yards on the ground to LSU.
The loss of Darrius Swain for disciplinary reasons won't make Georgia's
job any easier. Boilermaker senior center Nick Hardwick was named
second-team All-Big Ten this season.
Georgia pass offense vs. Purdue pass defense
The Bulldogs will face the same dilemma they have most of the season,
giving quarterback David Greene time to take advantage of matchups down
the field. Purdue defensive end Shaun Phillips has 13.5 sacks and was
named first-team All-Big Ten. On the other side is senior Kevin Nesfield, who has three sacks. The matchup of Phillips and Nesfield
against the offense that surrendered more sacks (44) than any school in
the SEC this year rightfully scares Richt. "I think they're probably
licking their chops right now," he said. "If they've seen enough tape,
they probably like the possibilities." The Boilermakers lead the Big Ten
in sacks (30). If Georgia can protect Greene, it might have some chances
downfield. The Boilermakers are without starting cornerback Jacques Reeves, who had started 25 straight games but isn't academically
eligible. He will be replaced by sophomore Sean Petty. "We've seen
enough to know he's a talented cornerback," Georgia coach Mark Richt
said of Petty.
Purdue pass offense vs. Georgia pass defense
The Boilermaker coaches like the fact that Georgia hasn't faced much
spread offense this season so look for Purdue to try the spread early.
It could pose a problem for the Bulldogs, who have lost a starting
safety and starting cornerback to injury this year and lost a backup
cornerback to academics last week. Georgia is so thin at cornerback that
Richt considered pulling starter Bruce Thornton out of a bowl-sponsored
contest at Universal Studios to make sure he didn't suffer a freak
injury. Purdue's passing attack starts with John Standeford and Taylor Stubblefield, who are first and second on the school's career receptions
list. Standeford has been slowed slightly by injuries this year.
Stubblefield leads the Big Ten with 6.5 catches per game. Quarterback
Kyle Orton is a mirror image of Georgia's David Greene -- a 6-4,
223-pound pocket passer.
Georgia place-kicker Billy Bennett needs one more field goal to become
the NCAA's all-time single-season leader. He already has 29. The
all-time NCAA scoring mark is a possibility but not a good one. He needs
24 points to tie that mark. His counterpart, Ben Jones of Purdue, has
hit more field goals this year (15) than anyone in the Big Ten but his
75 percent success ratio is near the bottom of the league standings.
Purdue punter Brent Slaton averages 43 yards per kick, 4.6 more than
Georgia's Gordon Ely-Kelso, but the Boilermakers don't cover the kicks
well. Only two teams in the Big Ten have given up more punt return
yardage than Purdue. The rest of the Boilermaker special teams ranks
near the middle of the Big Ten rankings.
There are few clear advantages in this game because the teams are so
similar. Both excel on defense and survive on offense. Purdue has been
more consistent on offense, but the Bulldogs may have more big-play
potential thanks to Fred Gibson. The best matchup, or at least most
important, will the Boilermakers' pass rush vs. Georgia's pass
protection. The matchup doesn't bode well for the Bulldogs, who haven't
protected Greene all season. If Georgia can't throw the ball, it
certainly won't be able to run against the nation's No. 10 rush defense.
The Boilermakers' passing game will have to contend with Sean Jones and
Thomas Davis, the best and probably hardest-hitting pair it has seen all
season. Georgia 17, Purdue 7.
Key to the Game
Focus. Bowl games with little on the line like this one are often
determined by which team comes to town ready to play and which has
already seen its focus wander to next year. In two bowl games under
Richt, Georgia has shown both tendencies. Last year, they were enthused
by an SEC Championship and thumped Florida State 26-13. The year before,
though, they played below their normal level and lost to Boston College.
The Bulldogs have been on their best behavior on this trip, Richt said.
"I think the guys have done a good job of working hard," he said.
pleased with our approach so far."
Keys to the Capital One Bowl
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