Two of the nation’s top 10 teams will face off in the Sugar Bowl New Year’s Day when the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (11-2) take on the No. 7 Baylor Bears (11-2).
The Bulldogs are 5-point favorites in this game, but will they be able to pull this one off without some of their key players? Here is a preview of the game followed by trends and our final prediction.
Head coach Matt Rhule is one of the hottest names floating around the NFL head coaching carousel, and Rhule has already addressed this issue with his team. Rhule is being courted by a few NFL teams largely due to the turnaround he has completed with the Bears. Just two seasons ago, Baylor was 1-11. This season, they finished the year 11-2, and they have a top 10 unit.
Some good news for the Bears: Rhule will have quarterback Charlie Brewer ready to go for this game. Brewer was cleared to play after sustaining a concussion in the Big 12 conference championship game. Brewer has 2,950 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season, and he has been a solid and capable leader.
On defense, the Bears are led by James Lynch, whose 12.5 sacks are tops on the team. As a unit, Baylor set a school record this season, netting 43 sacks, which ranks ninth in the nation. The Bears are allowing 19.3 points a contest, while the Bulldogs defense has been one of the best in the nation, surrendering just 12.5 points a game, which is second in the country.
The Bulldogs have several key players who will miss this game, however, and that will certainly affect them. Linemen Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson will miss the game after declaring for the NFL draft, and wideout Lawrence Cager and Dominick Blaylock will also miss due to injury. Neither running back Brian Herrien nor defensive tackle Tyler Clark made the trip, either.
Another major factor that will determine the outcome of this game is whether or not quarterback Jake Fromm can return to the form he had earlier in the season. Fromm began the year 143-of-204 for 1,685 yards, with a 70% competition rate. Over his previous five games, however, Fromm is 71-of-151 for 925 yards — that’s a completion rate of just 47%.
Fromm, a junior this year, led Georgia to the Sugar Bowl last year, where he and his team lost to Texas, 28-21. Fromm thinks his team will be ready this year, however, despite having several backups playing in the game. “I think it kind of puts things back into perspective for us and kind of puts a little chip on our shoulder. I think there’s a lot of guys in the locker room that are ready to have their opportunity and go out and play well,” Fromm said this week.
Game Info, Betting Trends, Analysis & Pick
*NOTE: all numbers and percentages that follow are courtesy of Odds Shark.
Time: January 1, 2020, 8:45 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans
Spread: Baylor +5
Over/Under: 41.5 points
Odds Shark currently has the Bulldogs winning the game by a projected score of 29-27, with Baylor covering the spread and the total score going over 41.5 points.
Some trends relating to both teams to consider:
- Georgia is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games.
- The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Georgia’s last 8 games.
- The Bulldogs are 6-1 SU in their last 7 games.
- Georgia is 11-2 SU in their last 13 games this season.
- The Bears are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games.
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Baylor’s last 6 games.
- Baylor is 13-2 SU in their last 15 games.
- Baylor is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games this season.
Like Odds Shark, I like the Bears with the points here. I also think Baylor pulls out the upset against this depleted Georgia team, and I believe the total score will go over 41.5 points. I think it stays close and relatively low-scoring, with Baylor pulling it out late in the fourth quarter.
Final Prediction: Baylor 24, Georgia 21