Outside of next week’s championship game, the last game of bowl season will be Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl matchup between the no. 5 Georgia Bulldogs and no. 15 Texas Longhorns. The game will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans with Georgia favored by 12.5 points over Texas.
Georgia is no doubt upset about being left out of the College Football Playoff. They nearly pulled off an upset over Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, only to come up short. Instead, the Bulldogs had to settle for a record of 11-2 and their first Sugar Bowl appearance since 2011.
Texas is also coming off a loss in their conference championship game. Despite beating Oklahoma during the regular season, the Longhorns couldn’t do the same in the Big 12 title game. However, Texas will have another shot to earn their 10th win of the season, which would be a huge step forward for Tom Herman and the Longhorns.
By the numbers, Texas scored close to 38 points per game this season. However, that number should be taken with a grain of salt. The Longhorns only faced bowl teams in seven of their 13 games. They also benefited from facing some porous defenses in the Big 12. The Georgia defense will easily be the best one the Longhorns will face all season.
Even with most of their games coming against subpar defenses, Texas only averaged 3.8 yards per carry on the ground. They have a solid backfield tandem in Tre Watson and Keaontay Ingram, as well as a mobile quarterback in Sam Ehlinger. However, they still don’t have the kind of running game that will do much damage against a Georgia defense that stuffed the run against several quality rushing teams during the regular season. That will put a lot of pressure on Ehlinger to beat the Bulldogs with his arm.
The Greatest Challenge
Ironically, the Texas defense was quite good against the run this season, giving up less than four yards per carry. Of course, other than Oklahoma, they haven’t faced a team anywhere close to as explosive as Georgia is running the ball. Both D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield averaged better than six yards per carry during the season. Both backs will pose a tough challenge for the Texas defense.
If that weren’t enough, the Bulldogs also have a competent quarterback in Jake Fromm. There aren’t many quarterbacks in the country who were more efficient that Fromm this season. He completed 68% of his passes and over nine yards per pass attempt. Fromm is also coming off one of the best performances of his career against Alabama, and as long as the Bulldogs are able to run the ball effectively, the sophomore will be in a position to have another strong outing.
It’s worth mentioning that Georgia may not be motivated to play this game amidst their disappointment at being left out of the top-4. However, as long as the Bulldogs show up, they have a chance to run the Longhorns off the field. Bet on Georgia beating Texas and covering the 12.5-point spread in the Sugar Bowl.