1. Which defense, if either, will make a stand? Texas A&M ranks 104th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 47 or more points in four of 12 regular-season games. Georgia ranks 70th in scoring defense, allowing 34 or more points five times, and is short three defensive coaches.
2. Will Georgia be able to run the ball as it did against Georgia Tech? The Bulldogs' running game improved late in the season, peaking with 339 ground yards in a 30-24 victory at Tech on Nov. 28. Texas A&M expects Georgia to try the same strategy to keep the ball away from the Aggies offense.
3. Turnovers, of course. The main reason the Bulldogs are in Shreveport -– rather than, say, Tampa or Orlando -– is their high number of turnovers this season (27). A relapse in that area after a one-turnover game against Tech would be tough to overcome.
A Georgia win would ...
• Give the Bulldogs (7-5) a 13th consecutive season with eight or more victories, extending the nation's longest such streak.
• Improve the Dogs' record under coach Mark Richt in bowl games to 7-2.
• Be the Dogs' fourth consecutive bowl victory.
A Texas A&M win would ...
• Be the Aggies' first victory in a bowl game since 2001 (0-3 since then).
• Be the Aggies' second victory this season away from home.
• Give the Aggies (6-6) a winning season.
Keep an eye on . . .
• For Georgia: This could be the last UGA game for junior linebacker Rennie Curran, named the Bulldogs' MVP at the team's annual awards gala this month. Curran, who leads the SEC in tackles, is strongly considering entering the 2010 NFL draft.
• For Texas A&M: Junior quarterback Jerrod Johnson made second-team All-Big 12 and broke numerous single-season school records, including passing yards (3,217), touchdown passes (28), completions (267), 300-yard passing games (5) and total offensive yards (3,672). He threw only six interceptions.
The numbers game
• 22: Touchdown passes thrown this season by Georgia quarterback Joe Cox, just three short of UGA's single-season record (Matthew Stafford's 25 in 2008).
• 17: Sacks this season by Texas A&M defensive end/linebacker Von Miller, who leads major college football in that category.
• 0-6: Texas A&M's record this season in televised games, compared to 6-0 in untelevised games. (The Independence Bowl will be shown nationally on ESPN2).
• Series record: Texas A&M leads 3-1, with all of the Aggies' victories over Georgia coming in the 1950s.
• Last meeting: Georgia (and freshman tailback Herschel Walker) won 42-0 in Athens on Sept. 13, 1980. The Bulldogs went on to win the national championship that season.
The bottom line
Georgia's season ends with a short-handed coaching staff in a lower-tier bowl. A looong season, indeed.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.