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.
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 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.
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.