The Georgia Bulldogs get to play in their consolation game for losing by a touchdown to Alabama in the SEC Championship. Georgia had the Crimson Tide on the ropes with terrific play from QB Jake Fromm, but they couldn’t hold on against top ranked Bama.
The real dent in their season was the loss to LSU back in October. Win that game and the close loss to Alabama would have been irrelevant when it came to the playoff. They would have been in as the 4th seed and a likely rematch in the Orange Bowl against Alabama would have been on deck.
There are a lot of “what ifs” for Georgia, but they’ve had a few weeks to get those thoughts out of their head. The Texas Longhorns are in front of them, as they are chomping at the bit to knock off one of the best programs in the SEC. The Longhorns already reached the pinnacle of their season when they defeated Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry.
They lost a rematch for the Big 12 Championship, but had an otherwise decent season. Back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and West Virginia were killers. The West Virginia loss was off a bye, so it was a step back for them despite a week to prepare for Will Grier. It was an entertaining 42-41 game, though, that saw the Mountaineers convert a 2-point conversion to win the ball game. The Longhorns won three straight following that loss until falling 39-27 to the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship.
Texas was good this season, just not good enough in key moments. They’re showing progress under Tom Herman and have their starting quarterback coming back next season. They likely have Sam Ehlinger for two more seasons, as he’s only a sophomore.
Oklahoma are replacing Kyler Murray next season, so there might be an opening there for the Longhorns in the Big 12. With that said, the Sooners have done a fantastic job at just reloading their quarterbacks since Sam Bradford. Who wouldn’t want to go play for Lincoln Riley in that offense. The Longhorns can get a nice jumpstart on next season with a solid outing against the Bulldogs. Fromm is a future NFL talent and their defense is packed with players ready to start from Week 1 in the NFL. This is going to be a good test for Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Get our free Texas vs. Georgia pick in the Sugar Bowl below.
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Despite the popular opinion that Georgia isn’t going to be motivated to play in this game, I think the events that unfolded in the semi-final on Saturday may give them some motivation. One has to believe that they’re going to be out to show that they should have been in the CFP instead of Notre Dame or Oklahoma. I think the committee got it right, as it would have been impossible to keep out an undefeated team.
Unlike Oklahoma, Georgia has a defense that can put up a fight with any offense in the country. The Sooners were down by 24 points in the blink of an eye. I know they made a game of it, but a good defense may have prevented them from getting behind 24 points immediately.
Ehlinger has done a great job directing the Texas offense this season. However, playing against Big 12 defenses and the SEC is a whole different ballgame. He has some running ability, but he isn’t going to turn an impossible 3rd and 10 into a 1st down like Murray has a tendency to do.
Ehlinger has thrown 25 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. His final two games were nothing special, though, with a pedestrian performance against a bad KU and Oklahoma defense. He threw 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. But for ten weeks straight, Ehlinger didn’t throw a single interception.
Oklahoma did a nice job of limiting Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Yes, that is his birth name by the way. Anyway, Lil’Jordan has been playing nothing but big ball for the Longhorns in 2018. He hasn’t made it clear whether he is declaring for the draft or going to return for his senior season. If he does return, the Longhorns are going to have a force with Ehlinger and Humphrey. Humphrey went for 1,109 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Bulldogs certainly have a secondary who can lock him up, though.
Georgia are 15th in the FBS with just 180.5 yards allowed per game. There is a little more of an opening on the ground, but they’re still strong up front as well, with 130.6 rushing yards allowed per game. The Georgia defense held Bama to just 21 points through 3 quarters until Jalen Hurts led the Crimson Tide to 14 points in the 4th to complete the comeback. Alabama and LSU are the only teams to score more than 30 points in the Bulldog defense.
Note that the Bulldogs had a 28-14 lead early in the 3rd quarter. That can be accredited to terrific accuracy from Fromm, who has torched the SEC for 27 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns with just 1 interception in his last six outings. I doubt the Texas secondary is scaring him much.
The quarterback class of 2019 is weak this season, but Fromm is going to help make the 2020 class a little more attractive. He’s the best QB prospect Georgia has had since Matthew Stafford. Fromm is going to exploit a Texas defense that ranks 114th against the pass. Look for a big performance from him, as they make it look easy through the air against a Big 12 secondary. The defense should be able to do enough as well to contain Ehlinger. I like a 41-20 or 38-21 win for Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to give the Bulldogs a win and cover. If they’re especially excited to give the playoff committee a middle finger, it might get uglier than that for Texas.