The last of the New Year’s Six Bowls kicks off on Wednesday night in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Georgia was featured in this game last season against a different Big 12 opponent. They met the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl and it wasn’t a pretty scene for the Bulldogs. Georgia went from looking like a College Football Playoff team to a big loser against the Longhorns.
The Bulldogs thought they did enough to get into the playoffs last season, though ended up having to settle for an appearance in the Sugar Bowl. It was a big downer for a Georgia team who had little motivation playing against Texas. The score wasn’t that lopsided, with a 28-21 win for Texas. However, this is a team who looked like one of the best in the SEC. Under normal circumstances and some motivation, Georgia likely crushes the Longhorns last season.
Here we are again, but the situation is slightly different for Georgia. They were of course hoping to get into the College Football Playoff. Although, no one really expected Georgia to go to the CFP. The odds of the Bulldogs getting in were not nearly as strong as last season. With that in mind, Georgia aren’t going to be as heartbroken going into the Sugar Bowl this season. They will have to deal with some absentees, though.
Between injuries and guys sitting the game out to prepare for the draft, Georgia will be without six starters, three on each side of the ball and a total of 13 regular contributors. Offensive linemen, Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, will both sit out for the NFL in their future. D’Andre Swift’s status is not clear as well. Swift is dealing with a shoulder injury, which may hold him out as a precautionary measure. Just keep in mind that Georgia isn’t going to be trotting out scabs to play in the Sugar Bowl. There will be younger players active in this one, but they’re expected to be the future of the program.
This game should be an introduction to George Pickens for most people. A 5-star recruit and the No. 4 wide, Pickens figures to play a big role in the future for Georgia. As a freshman, he hauled in 37 balls for 552 yards and 7 touchdowns. Look for him to come up with a big play or two for the Bulldogs with a larger role in the Sugar Bowl. Kenny McIntosh may very well be the next special running back to come through Athens.
If Swift doesn’t play, expect a heavy dose of McIntosh, who was recruited as the No. 11 running back in the nation out of high school. This is also a big game for quarterback Jake Fromm. He will possibly be going to the NFL next season, with his draft stock all over the place at the moment. Fromm can go back to Georgia for another season. It probably wouldn’t hurt him, but he hasn’t made his decision public yet.
Charlie Brewer was injured during the Big 12 Championship against Oklahoma. He took a hard hit and was put into concussion protocol following the game. However, Brewer has been given the green light and will be able to play against Georgia. Despite the guys out for Georgia, the Bulldogs are going to be a decent challenge for Brewer. He had it easy against Big 12 defenses, though he’s going to see some different looks against the Bulldogs on Wednesday. Head below for our free Georgia vs. Baylor pick in the Sugar Bowl.
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Baylor Bears Sugar Bowl Betting Odds:
Georgia vs. Baylor Sugar Bowl Prediction:
There was plenty of hype for Jake Fromm going into this season. He put together a nice stat line the year before, having passed for 30 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 67.3% completions. His numbers slipped, though, passing for 22 touchdowns and 5 interceptions on 60.3%. That said, Fromm has the arm strength of an NFL quarterback and is going to get a good look at the next level.
After the season he had last year, many people were expecting the next Matthew Stafford at Georgia, but not quite. In any event, Fromm is one of the better quarterbacks that you’re going to find in the FBS. Georgia averaged 410.2 yards per game and 31.2 points per game. The major strength of this team can be found on their defense, though. It’s been a plug and play defense for Georgia the past several years. They lose guys and the next class comes in and it doesn’t look like anything has changed.
Prior to the 37-10 loss against LSU in the SEC Championship, Georgia hadn’t allowed more than 19 points in six straight games. A 20-17 loss against South Carolina was the only contest in the regular season that Georgia surrendered 20 points. The defense will be down some players, but talent is going to be replacing talent. And at least the younger guys are going to be motivated to impress and play hard.
You wouldn’t have gotten that from the guys taking the night off anyway tonight. It likely would have been the same as last season, going through the motions and not focusing on their opponent. Guys that didn’t get as much playing time this season will be looking to disrupt Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Baylor averaged 431.2 yards per game and 35.2 points per contest. But, keep in mind that this was against Big 12 competition. If Georgia played in the Big 12, they would have ran over their defenses.
Brewer looked good for Baylor with 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 65.2% completions. He can giddy up and run if required, having rushed for 337 yards and 10 scores on the ground. He’s running into a Kirby Smart unit that has surrendered just 274.2 yards per game and 12.5 points. Georgia are coming off their worst performance of the season, but that was against Joe Burrow and LSU. They can torch any defense in the country, and look at what they just did against a Big 12 defense. LSU could have scored 100+ if they really wanted to.
When you look at what the Tigers have done on offense this season, holding them to 37 points isn’t the worst look. Baylor are likely going to have to run the ball effectively to set up Brewer deep. However, Georgia has surrendered only 75.7 yards per game on the ground for 3rd in the nation. Some starters out will help Baylor a bit, but likely not enough to consistently drive on the Bulldogs.
Oklahoma is the only team that Baylor has played this season that is worth anything, and they struggled to score against their leaky defense. Baylor lost to them twice, while beating up on UTSA, Rice, Stephen F. Austin, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Texas. Barely surviving against West Virginia, Iowa State, and Texas Tech is not too impressive. After what happened last season in the Sugar Bowl, expect Kirby Smart to come to New Orleans with a better game plan this time.
Despite this being a meaningless game on paper, it would be a bad look for Georgia to show up with no effort again. The public bet the line all the way down to 4 points because of the players sitting out for Georgia. The injuries are baked into the point spread tonight, otherwise Georgia would be around a touchdown favorite. Like most bowl games, don’t go big on a game that adds up to just a glorified scrimmage, but I think now that the line has come down Georgia has a bit of value.