Texas and Georgia face off Tuesday night in the Sugar Bowl. Five questions facing the Longhorns in New Orleans:
1. Who’ll end the season as Texas’ leading rusher?
Unless Sam Ehlinger — who led the team in rushing last year as a freshman — runs wild, Texas will have a new leading rusher for the 2018 season. Senior Tre Watson has rushed for 695 yards on 167 carries while freshman Keaontay Ingram has 683 yards over his 133 touches. Watson and Ingram will likely see a similar workload (the two have been within four carries of each other in four of UT’s last five games), so who will win the season-long crown?
2. Will Texas avoid another fourth quarter letdown?
In three of the Longhorns’ four losses, they’ve either led or were tied in the fourth quarter. Fourth quarters have been a problem for Texas this season. The Longhorns have been outscored 134-58 in that quarter, a stark contrast to their scoring advantages in the other three (93-88 in the first, 139-81 in the second and 117-38 in the third). Meanwhile, the fourth quarter is the only one that Georgia hasn’t scored 100 points in this season. Then again, the Bulldogs have won their 11 games by an average of 26.8 points.
3. Will Texas’ defense or Georgia’s offense control the ground?
In last year’s Texas Bowl, the Longhorns held Missouri quarterback Drew Lock to just one touchdown pass, a performance that led to a controversial mimicking of the quarterback’s celebratory dance. This year’s test from the SEC will likely be administered on the ground as the Bulldogs rank among the nation’s best in rushing offense. Texas has yet to allow a 250-yard game on the ground — playing in the pass-happy Big 12 helps that — so will Georgia hit its average of 251.6 yards?
4. What impact will Texas’ punter have this year?
Last year, UT punter Michael Dickson became an anomaly when he was named the MVP of the Texas Bowl. Dickson is now a rookie Pro Bowler for the Seattle Seahawks, and Ryan Bujcevski, his freshman replacement (and cousin), is averaging 40.2 yards per kick. Bujcevski has yet to match his first collegiate punt — a 56-yarder against Maryland — and has had some shaky moments. He’d be wise to kick away from Georgia’s Mecole Hardman, who is averaging 20.1 yards per return.
5. Will Texas set any school records?
Earlier this season, Ehlinger’ streak of 308 passes without an interception set a Texas and Big 12 record. Now some of his teammates are eyeing UT single-season records, too. Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson need 130 receiving yards to eclipse the 2,183 combined yards that Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley combined for in 2008. Safety Caden Sterns’ four interceptions and kicker Cameron Dicker’s 16 field goals have tied freshman records, and Dicker is six points shy of the freshman scoring record.