No. 8 Baylor and No. 5 Georgia will attempt to bounce back from losses in their respective conference championship games when they meet in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day in New Orleans.
Both teams watched their hopes for reaching the College Football Playoff end Saturday. Baylor (11-2) fell 30-23 in overtime to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game, while Georgia (11-2) lost the Southeastern Conference championship game 37-10 to LSU.
Georgia is trying to avoid a repeat of last year when the disappointment of missing the playoffs created a hangover effect that carried into bowl season. Georgia followed up its 35-28 SEC championship game loss to Alabama last year by falling 28-21 to 12 ½-point underdog Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
Baylor’s Sugar Bowl berth continues this program’s remarkable resurgence under second-year coach Matt Rhule. Baylor went 1-11 the year before Rhule’s arrival and is the first Power Five team to win 11 games within two seasons of losing 11 games.
Georgia has struggled on offense lately but has played outstanding defense all season. Georgia ranks second among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams in scoring defense (12.5) and is fourth in total defense (274.2).
Some things to note about the Sugar Bowl matchup.
Baylor will be hoping quarterback Charlie Brewer makes a successful comeback after getting knocked out of the Big 12 championship game in the first half. Brewer appeared to hurt himself while bulling over a defender at the end of a 7-yard run early in the second quarter.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has been struggling lately. Fromm has completed less than half his passes in five straight games. He went 20 of 42 for 225 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions against LSU.
This will mark the first time Georgia and Baylor have faced each other since a 15-3 Georgia victory on Sept. 16, 1989. Georgia leads the series 4-0.
LONG TIME COMING
Although this is the second straight year that Georgia will end its season in the Sugar Bowl, Baylor hasn’t played in this game since beating Tennessee 13-7 on Jan. 1, 1957.
STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH
Baylor has 34 touchdown runs to tie for 10th among all FBS teams. Georgia has allowed only one touchdown run all season.
NOT THE TYPICAL BIG 12 TEAM
Big 12 teams have a reputation for being soft on defense, but Baylor has allowed just 4.85 yards per play to rank 20th among all FBS teams. Baylor’s defense is led by James Lynch, who has 18 ½ tackles for loss and 12 ½ sacks.
Georgia’s defense is even better. The Bulldogs are allowing 4.34 yards per play to rank third nationally. Georgia also ranks second in scoring defense and fourth in total defense.