Last Updated: 2018-12-08
A fake punt on fourth and 11. Man, oh man. It has been talked about by media at a breakneck pace since Georgia head coach Kirby Smart made a massively questionable call in the SEC championship.
Both of these teams lost their conference championships, but are looking to finish the season strong…hopefully. The Georgia Bulldogs are favored by 10.5 or 11 at most shops for the Sugar Bowl against the Texas Longhorns. The total is set at 58 at most of the books.
For the second year in a row, Georgia blew a late game lead to the Alabama Crimson Tide, 35-28. Texas lost their conference championship as well, 39-27. How will both of these teams respond to emotional losses? We will find out on New Year’s Day.
Herman Gets to be the Underdog
Right at home, nice and comfy. Texas head coach Tom Herman thrives in the dog role. He has the Longhorns rebuild program right on schedule. Each year they have improved their wins. Now they have a chance to cap his second season with a New Year’s Six bowl. Life is good as Herman. Can he pull off another upset?
There are a lot of emotions at play in this game, especially with both teams losing in the conference championships. Digging into Georgia’s loss, this was their second heartbreaking loss to their SEC rivals on the National stage. There has to be some serious emotional hangover. They were minutes away from winning the SEC Championship and locking in a spot for the College Football Playoffs.
Instead they are on the wrong side looking in. How do they get motivated for a lesser opportunity? Their goal was surely to win the National Championship. Instead they were beaten for the second year in a row in the same exact manner, to a quarterback switch.
The Bulldogs also lost defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. He was hired for the head coaching for the Colorado Buffaloes. In his three seasons as coordinator the Bulldogs only allowed 18.5 points per game. They were 15th in passing yards allowed this season and 28th in rushing.
One benefit they have is playing close to home. The Sugar Bowl takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The trip is not far for either team though. Which fans will be more excited? The Texas fans longing to make it back to the tier of the elite, or the Georgia fans, who came up just short?
Texas has been through a long stretch of hopelessness since their last New Year’s Six Bowl game. The fact the team has shown marked improvement each year is a sign of change. Despite losing to Oklahoma, Texas has to be excited about the future. The Longhorns appear to have the more unquantifiable edges.
What do the Stats Say?
Both of these teams played in conferences with completely different styles of play. Texas plays in the all offense, no defense Big 12. Georgia plays in the bruising smash-mouth SEC. Pure stats will not help as much as efficiency stats.
Bill Connelly’s created S&P+ metric ranks Georgia as the third best team in the country and Texas as number 36.
Advanced metrics that favor Texas include DB Havoc. They are currently 9th in the nation compared to Georgia, which is 92nd. Georgia has a slightly better Front Seven Havoc, but overall Texas, 38th, was able to create more Havoc this season than Georgia, 74th in the nation.
Texas also had an overall better D Line than Georgia this per Football Outsiders. They rated better in D Line yards and standard downs sack rate. There are not a ton of other stats that support
Georgia has an advantage in nearly every other statistical category. They are higher ranked in nearly offensive category and by the S&P+ metrics they are better on defense. So there is a little discrepancy between some of the other advanced metrics compared to Bill Connelly’s calculation.
Total: 2-1 Over
Total: 2-2 Over
Total: 6-5-1 over
The Winner Prediction
It can be really hard to go against the stats, but there are motivational and mental edges that seem to favor Texas. Georgia lost a very successful defensive coordinator, and failed their preseason expectations.
Texas on the other hand, has succeeded expectations. The advanced Havoc stats are interesting too. If Georgia is not completely focused during their prep, they may have some issues preventing these types of plays which could lead to sacks and tackles for losses.
I’m taking Texas +11 (-105, Bovada)
The Total Prediction
Texas was able to light it up all season, averaging over 30 points per game. Even if Georgia has a lack of focus, they should still be able to score points in this game.
I’m taking the over 58 (-105, 5Dimes)
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