No. 5 Georgia (11-2) and No. 8 Baylor (11-2) meet in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. Game time is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. ET in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Georgia has secured a third straight season with at least 11 wins under Kirby Smart, but still finished the 2019 season on a sour note, losing 37-10 to top-ranked LSU in the SEC championship game. A win there would have sent the Bulldogs to the College Football Playoff as the No. 3 seed.
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Baylor is in a similar boat as the Bulldogs, barely missing the Playoff with two losses to No. 4 seed Oklahoma — in the regular season and Big 12 title game — by a combined 10 points. It may be little comfort for Sporting News Coach of the Year Matt Rhule and Co., but a win in the Sugar Bowl would set a Bears single-season record for wins, at 12.
With that, Sporting News offers an early preview for the Sugar Bowl between the Bulldogs and Bears:
Georgia vs. Baylor odds for Sugar Bowl 2020
Spread: Georgia -6
Point total: 41
Moneyline: Georgia -240, Baylor +200
Georgia is a 6-point favorite according to Sports Insider; the line opened at -6.5 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Georgia vs. Baylor all-time series
Georgia and Baylor met four times between 1972 and 1989, all in the regular season, with Georgia winning all four meetings. The Bears are 1-0 all-time in the Sugar Bowl, winning its lone game against No. 2 Tennessee on Jan. 1, 1957; Georgia is 4-6, its last win coming in a 41-10 demolition of No. 10 Hawaii on Jan. 1, 2008.
Three trends to know
— The Bulldogs are 7-5 this season against the spread when favored. The Bears are a perfect 4-0 against the spread as the underdog.
— Georgia is 3-1 against the spread in bowl games since Kirby Smart took over in 2016, and 9-3 in neutral-site games. Baylor is 1-0 and 3-1 against the spread in those circumstances, respectively, since Rhule took over in 2017.
— The Bulldogs are 3-2 in bowl games (including the Rose Bowl and Playoff championship game in 2017) over the last four seasons. Baylor is 3-0.
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Three things to watch
This time last year, a supposedly dejected Georgia team showed up in New Orleans and was manhandled by a Texas team everyone expected the Bulldogs to beat. The general consensus was that Georgia didn’t want to be in the game since it wasn’t the Playoff: a lame-duck excuse that no longer flies in the Playoff era. Will the Bulldogs have a different outlook this time after an embarrassing defeat to LSU in the SEC title game?
Georgia rush attack vs. Baylor defense
The Bears have been stingy on defense this year, impressive considering they play in the Big 12. But how will they fare against a Georgia rush attack that features D’Andre Swift (1,216 yards, 6.2 yards per carry, seven touchdowns), Brian Herrien (490 yards, 4.8 ypc, six touchdowns) and Zamir White (316 yards, 5.2 ypc, three touchdowns)? Baylor gives up an average of 133.8 rushing yards per game, and they Bears will need to tighten up against Georgia if they don’t want to be gassed in the fourth quarter.
Charlie Brewer’s status
Brewer has been the focal point of the Bears’ offense this year, completing 227 of 348 passes for 2,950 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions all season. His status for the Sugar Bowl is unknown, however, after he exited the Big 12 championship with a concussion. His backups, Jacob Zeno and Gerry Bohanon, combined to complete 6 of 21 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns to no interceptions. If one of them ends up starting against Georgia, you can expect Kirby Smart to dial up the pressure in order to force a few errant throws.
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Stat that matters
Jake Fromm has been efficient this season — not spectacular — completing 60.3 percent of his passes for 2,610 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. But in the Bulldogs’ two losses to South Carolina and LSU, Fromm was 48 of 93 (51.6 percent) for 520 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. If he struggles early against a Baylor defense that has given up 13 touchdowns and forced 17 interceptions, it could be a long game for the Bulldogs.
Georgia vs. Baylor prediction
Georgia and Baylor both know a thing about grind-it-out games, winning a combined nine one-possession games. Expect things to start out slow as each team gets a feel for the other; Georgia will get on the board first before Baylor finds a way to tie it at halftime. It’ll be similarly tight in the second half, with both defenses forcing turnovers, but Fromm will make enough plays to set up one last touchdown for Georgia’s impressive rush attack. That will seal a game that’s closer than the score suggests.
Georgia 34, Baylor 23