Allstate Sugar Bowl
University of Texas Longhorns (9-4) vs. University of Georgia Bulldogs (11-2)
NCAA Football Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at 8:45 pm ET (Mercedez-Benz Superdome)
Spread: Georgia -13
Free ESPN PICK NCAA Football Texas Longhorns vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Tuesday’s jam packed bowl day ends with the Sugar Bowl in a classic storied matchup. Southern football’s pride in Georgia and Texas football will surprisingly meet for the first time since 1984. Texas is 3-1 in the all-time matchup, but Georgia bested the Longhorns the last time they met in the Cotton bowl, 10-9. Both are 2-1 in the last 3 and coming off a conference championship loss.
What’s trending: Longhorns last 3 games
Whenever Texas has thrived in the passing game, it’s been through the Sam Ehlinger, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson trio. This trio’s effect was seen in the Iowa State game last month. If Ehlinger ever needs a big play, his go-to targets can be either/both Humphrey and Johnson. Ehlinger connected with Humphrey often in their Cyclone win finding each other 7 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. The next week it was Johnson’s turn to reel in targets. He hauled in four catches including a big 26 yard touchdown pass from Ehlinger to start a 21-0 rout and eventual win versus Kansas and their lockdown secondary. Ehlinger would need both of his primary receivers to perform well in the Big 12 championship to have a chance and they did versus Oklahoma. Although Texas was cut short in the end result against the high-powered Kyler Murray-led offense, the trio combined for 15 catches on 128 yards with two touchdowns.
The impressive part in the Longhorns’ last three was the efficiency of the offense. They never let turnovers impact the games and their offense has played with controlled pace. A measure of this is evident in their 3rd down conversion rate. In their last 3, they’ve kept their drives alive by converting on 51.16% of their 3rd downs. But this is something they’ve stayed consistent with as they’re ranked 15th overall in 3rd down conversion percentage. Individually, Ehlingher takes the cake as the team’s MVP because of this stat: whenever Elingher has completed 65% or more of his passes, the team is 7-1. He’s met that threshold completing above 67% of his passes in their last 3.
What’s trending: Georgia’s last 3
Jake Fromm is just as good if not better in completion percentage. His team is 10-0 when he hits the 65% mark. He’s also been precise with at least 70% of his passes completed over the last 3. Although the blowout versus UMass was a bit of an aberration (as he went 5-5 for a little over 100 yards before being pulled), his QB rating was off the charts in all 3 games combined including the SEC championship game. Fromm is proven and it showed in the SEC championship game where he went 25-39 for 301 yards against Alabama. But teams have had to pick and choose their poison with the Bulldogs as they are every bit as formidable on the ground. It’s an eerie look to what they had a year ago with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. That duo’s now in the NFL but the committee style is still right where it was year ago when they competed for the national championship. The passing game was utilized against Bama but the run game is what got them there as they picked apart UMass and Georgia Tech.
Versus Umass, five different players rushed for a touchdown. Then at Georgia Tech, at least four players averaged more than 5 yards per carry while workhorses D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield both tallied two rushing touchdowns. Provided with the run attack, their committee play is the perfect recipe when given red zone scoring opportunities. Georgia scores on 86% of their red zone chances.
Texas is 5-7-1 ATS
The Longhorns are 2-5-1 against the spread over their past eight with three consecutive UNDERS.
The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Texas’s last 25 games
Georgia is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
18-0 SU in its last 18 games as a double-digit favorite.
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Georgia’s last 7 games
The other trend to look for is Georgia’s defense. Remember, they held Alabama in check through three quarters until Jalen Hurts brought the Crimson Tide back for the 35-28 championship win. Texas’ defense meanwhile is not trending. They do play pretty close to the spread and so that might imply that they get key defensive stops but they give up more than 30 points this season. They’re 44th in scoring margin. Georgia, meanwhile, had a five game stretch where they won by an average score of 41.6-18.4. They’re sixth in scoring margin. Lastly, Georgia is 8-5 against the spread and has covered five of its last six games, including that straight-up loss to the Tide (+12).
Pick: Over 58