Texas vs Georgia
When: 8:45 PM ET, Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL STORYLINES
NEW ORLEANS – Sixth-ranked Georgia faces No. 14 Texas in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, and for the Bulldogs the challenge of facing the Longhorns is one of several hurdles they must overcome. Last season’s national runner-up would have made the College Football Playoff if it had not blown a fourth-quarter lead in losing to No. 1 Alabama in the SEC championship, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker left to take the head job at Colorado, and reports have surfaced that highly touted freshman quarterback Justin Fields intends to transfer. “This is the hand we were dealt,” sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm told reporters. “I know I’m going to go out and try to compete and play my best.”
The Longhorns have enjoyed a renaissance in Tom Herman’s second season as coach, achieving their highest win total since a nine-win campaign in 2012 and are back in a high-profile bowl game for the first time since losing the BCS championship in 2009. Texas shook off an upset loss to Maryland in the season opener, finishing 6-3 in games decided by one possession and defeating four ranked teams. “It’s really big for our team and our seniors,” senior defensive tackle Chris Nelson told the media. “To have a chance to leave a legacy on the program and get it back to the level that Texas needs to be at is special.”
Both quarterbacks look to cap stellar seasons with a New Year’s Day bowl victory. Sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who is recovering from an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder, passed for 25 touchdowns with five interceptions, rushed for 13 touchdowns and has already accumulated 5,038 passing yards in two seasons. Fromm completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 2,537 yards and 27 touchdowns with five interceptions, and his play down the stretch limited opportunities for Fields.
TV: 8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Georgia -12.5
ABOUT TEXAS (9-4, 7-2 Big 12): Ehlinger has two big-time targets in junior wide receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson, who have combined for 144 receptions, 2.054 yards and 16 touchdowns – making the Longhorns one of only seven teams to have two receivers with 65-plus receptions. A healthy offensive line has helped Texas average 31.3 points per game, as lineman have missed only three combined games this season. Senior defensive end Charles Omenihu earned Big 12 defensive lineman of the year, leading the conference with 9½ sacks.
ABOUT GEORGIA (11-2, 7-1 SEC): The Bulldogs average 39.2 points and feature the nation’s 12th-best rushing offense at 251.6 yards per game, fronted by sophomore D’Andre Swift (1,037 yards, 10 touchdowns) and junior Elijah Holyfield (956 yards, seven scores). Defensively, Georgia has allowed only 19.3 points per game, led by All-American defensive back Deandre Baker and his 40 tackles, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is one of the nation’s most consistent kickers, hitting 19-of-23 field goals while recording 79 touchbacks on 93 kickoffs.