5 things you should know before the Sugar Bowl kicks off
On New Year’s Day, No. 7-ranked Baylor will face No. 5 Georgia in the Allstate Sugar Bowl (7:45 p.m. CT, ESPN). But before the two teams kick off, here are five things you should know to impress friends at your watch party:
1. Sugar Bowl history — Baylor is headed to New Orleans for the first time since 1957, when the Bears upset No. 2 Tennessee, 13-7. (You can see some amazing highlights of that game here.) Georgia, on the other hand, is headed for its 11th Sugar Bowl appearance, the third-most by any team; the Bulldogs are 4-6 all-time, including a loss to Texas there last year.
2. Building on success — Baylor is aiming for its 12th win of the year, which would be a program record. Georgia is aiming to finish among the top 10 nationally for the third straight season.
3. What to expect — The Bears feature a balance of offense and defense, finishing the regular season as one of just six programs (joining Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oregon) ranked in the top 16 for both scoring offense and scoring defense. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, lean heavily on their defense, ranking second nationally in scoring defense, third in rushing defense and fourth in total defense.
4. Talent on the line — Both teams featured a unanimous all-American up front in 2019. For Baylor, defensive end James Lynch this season became the 10th unanimous all-American in program history (as well as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year). Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas also earned unanimous all-America honors, but he is one of at least five UGA starters who will not play in the game as he prepares for the NFL draft.
5. Successful leadership — Baylor head coach Matt Rhule and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart have each earned their share of honors in recent years. Earlier this month, Rhule was voted Big 12 Coach of the Year by his peers and named National Coach of the Year by Sporting News. In 2017, Smart was voted SEC Coach of the Year and national coach of the year by his peers and the Maxwell Football Club, respectively.
How will it all shake out? We’ll find out on New Year’s Day!
Sic ’em, Baylor football!