Texas

Sugar Bowl Preview: Texas vs Georgia

Despite having just lost one of the top quarterbacks in the last recruiting cycle, Georgia is now preparing to take on the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl. Both teams are on the rise, and both must be disappointed with the way their most recent games turned out. Georgia lost to Alabama in the SEC conference championship, while Texas lost against Oklahoma in a rematch for the Big 12 championship.

Texas

Expectations were low for Texas this year; reaching the Sugar Bowl at all makes the season a success. This is the Longhorns’ second year under Tom Herman and the second season since their infamous loss to Kansas. Many publications questioned whether they could make a bowl game at all after losing so much talent on the defense last year (such as Holton Hill, Poona ford, Malik Jefferson and DeShawn Elliot). Instead they gained a top-five recruiting class and used it to get hard-fought wins throughout the season, ultimately reaching the Big 12 championship game. A win in the Sugar Bowl would mark Texas’s first 10-win season in almost 10 years, with the most recent in 2009.

Texas has the talent to compete with a Georgia team. This might be the last game Texas fields the dynamic duo of Collin Johnson and Lil’ Jordan Humphrey, as both are eligible to declare for the draft, having their stock high after great seasons. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brennan Eagles get some playing time this game, as he looks to be the Longhorns’ top wideout next year if both of this year’s starters move to the NFL. My biggest concern for Texas is a lack of experience; they will be starting as many as three true freshmen in their secondary.

Georgia

Georgia comes into this game having just lost their playoff spot to Alabama. The coaches have to make sure the team is motivated after a tough loss and the transfer of their star backup QB. Starter Jake Fromm has gone through some tough times this season, with many fans hoping Justin Fields would take over full time next year. Georgia has the top defense in the SEC and the pride that their conference isn’t just offense (a criticism the SEC constantly makes against the big 12). They will face off against a Texas QB who doesn’t turn the ball over, but Georgia won’t have a problem putting up points. Their star wideout Riley Ridley and the running backs D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield are dynamic playmakers. Georgia runs the ball 41 times a game, which should get them the win.

Final predictions

While I hope Texas wins, I’m also not going to be biased in my work. Everything points to Georgia taking out their anger at missing the playoffs on the Longhorns. Sam Ellinger will have a good game for Texas, committing no turnovers and starting a Heisman campaign for next year, but Georgia’s offense will be a powerhouse. The only way I see the Longhorns winning is if Jake Fromm regresses to his early-season form, and if the Bulldogs start off slow and unmotivated after the loss to Alabama.

The Sugar Bowl kicks off January 1st at 7:45 p.m. inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Follow live game coverage on my Twitter account: @RickeyGirouard.

Texas vs. West Virginia Preview

The 15th-ranked (AP) Texas Longhorns welcome the 12th-ranked (AP) West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday in Austin. This is a pivotal Big 12 conference matchup, where the winner will have markedly increased their chances to appear in the conference title game at year’s end. Last year, Texas went up to Morgantown and knocked off a ranked West Virginia team. With the stakes this high and revenge certainly on the mind for WV, this could turn into another classic showdown. Let’s take a look at some keys and factors for this game.

Texas secondary vs West Virginia passing attack

Arguably the most important matchup of this game will be the Texas DBs vs the trio of West Virginia WRs. Led by junior receiver, David Sills, the Mountaineers have three receivers with at least 500 receiving yards. Texas will be tasked with slowing down a passing offense that ranks ninth in the country, averaging 331.3 YPG through the air. If QB Will Grier has time to pick his spots, it could be a long day for UT.

Can Texas keep up?

Much like in the circumstances heading into the Red River Rivalry game, Texas will have to score consistently to win. In that game, they put up 48 points and pulled out a victory. West Virginia scores about 40 points a game (39.9 PPG, 17th in the country), so it’s not far-fetched to say the Longhorns will need another 40 to win on Saturday. Another thing that Texas cannot afford is a slow start. Last week, they got down early to Oklahoma State and couldn’t complete the comeback. Playing at home, the crowd has to be a factor, and the only way that can happen is if the game is competitive.

Kill the clock

One way to keep West Virginia from lighting up the scoreboard: keep them off the field. In order to do that, the running game for Texas has to be on point. RBs Keontay Ingram and Tre Watson, along with QB Sam Ehlinger, will be key. Churning out yards on the ground will wear down the defense later in the game. West Virginia’s rush defense isn’t poor (34th in the country, 132.9 YPG), so it will take a strong game from the offensive line to get the job done. Texas must avoid penalties (especially pre-snap) to keep them from long down distances that will force them into passing situations.

(All stats provided by cfbstats)

2018 Red River Showdown Preview

For the first time since 2012, the annual contest between rivals Oklahoma and Texas is a ranked affair. Texas sits at #19 in the country and are winners of 4 straight games, 2 against ranked opponents. Oklahoma(#7) is undefeated and so far is the class of the Big 12 conference. Who will emerge from the Cotton Bowl wearing the Golden Hat? Let’s take a look at a couple areas that will likely determine the winner.

Keep Kyler Contained

If Texas wants to walk out of Dallas with a victory, they’ll have to limit Kyler Murray’s effectiveness. The junior QB is top 10 in every passing stat you could imagine. Not only that, he’s averaging 6.2 YPC on the ground. The Longhorns will have to play disciplined on defense in order for them to stay in the game. Wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown are his main targets through the air.

The Sooners ground game took a huge hit when they lost star RB Rodney Anderson earlier in the year. However Murray and RB Trey Sermon have picked up the slack. It’s a tall task to ask this Texas defense to slow down a team that averages close to 49 points a game. It starts with Murray as he’s the engine that powers their high octane offense.

Consistency on Offense

Defense is the stronger side of this Longhorns team. If they want to win this game though, they’ll have to put points on the board. Coming into this game they’re only averaging 28.8 PPG. Unless their defense is playing lights out, that won’t be enough against a Sooners team who’s capable of scoring on every drive. The running game will be key. RB’s Tre Watson and freshman Keontay Ingram will have to shoulder the load.

Oklahoma’s defense has been less than impressive, giving up 405.2 YPG. Texas will have to run the ball effectively to drain the clock and keep Kyler Murray off the field. QB Sam Elingher will need to limit his mistakes through the air. If he can play poised, they can score on this Oklahoma secondary. Wide Receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson have the size, speed, and skills to exploit the Sooners weak pass coverage.

This is a measuring stick game for Tom Herman and his squad. He’s been tasked with returning the Texas program to national prominence. Winning this game will go a long way into changing the whole “Texas is Back!” opinion. If his team is focused on playing clean football, they have a chance to upset OU. If they aren’t disciplined though, Oreos and Twinkies won’t be the only thing getting fried at the State Fair on Saturday.

(All stats referenced from https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/ and ncaa.com)