Football

Texas vs. Georgia: Five key Sugar Bowl matchups to watch

Posted December 31st, 2018

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Five key matchups in the Sugar Bowl to keep your eye on Tuesday night:

1. Texas’ Sam Ehlinger vs. Georgia’s Jake Fromm

Both quarterbacks were four-star recruits who signed in 2017 that earned starts their freshman years. Ehlinger and Fromm first competed against each other at the Elite 11 finals in 2016. Ehlinger, with 3,123 passing yards, 13 touchdown runs and a record-setting streak of consecutive passes without an interception, is putting together one of the best seasons for a Longhorns quarterback. Fromm has 126 fewer pass attempts than Ehlinger, but he’s thrown two more touchdowns and has a better completion percentage. Fromm is coming off his first 300-yard game of the year.

EDGE: Georgia

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2. Texas’ receivers vs. Georgia’s secondary

Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker, this year’s Thorpe Award winner, is skipping the Sugar Bowl in order to prepare for the NFL draft. That decision eliminates a marquee matchup in the secondary. Texas receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey (79 catches for 1,109 yards and 9 touchdowns) and Collin Johnson (65-945-7) might join Baker in the draft pool following their breakout junior seasons, and Devin Duvernay (39-524-4) is also having a solid year. Georgia’s remaining defensive backs J.R. Reed, Richard LeCounte and Tyrique McGhee are responsible for half of the team’s eight interceptions.

EDGE: Texas

3. Texas’ Charles Omenihu vs. Georgia tackle Isaiah Wilson

Omenihu, Texas’ defensive end, heads into his final game as a Longhorn with 9.5 sacks and has the chance to become the first Texas player to log double-digit sacks since Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed in 2013. But the Big 12’s top defensive lineman must move a mountain to get that milestone. Wilson is a 6-7, 340-pound redshirt freshman and will be the heaviest right tackle that’s started against Texas this season. Wilson has started every game for a Georgia team that has recorded 322 pass attempts while allowing 18 sacks.

EDGE: Texas

4. Texas’ Tom Herman vs. Georgia’s Kirby Smart

Both head coaches are 43, making this Sugar Bowl the youngest head coaching matchup since 1971 when Tennessee’s Bill Battle and Air Force’s Ben Martin were a combined 78 years of age. Herman and Smart have faced off before, when Ohio State — with Herman as offensive coordinator — beat Alabama — with Smart as defensive coordinator — in the 2014 national championship game. That was at the Sugar Bowl, too; the Buckeyes had 537 yards of offense that night. Herman is 38-14 as a head coach with a 16-10 mark at Texas; Smart, who won four national titles at Alabama, is 32-9 at Georgia.

EDGE: Georgia

5. Texas’ Cameron Dicker vs. Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship

Fun fact: Both kickers have had a hand (and leg) in Oklahoma’s last two losses. Blankenship kicked two field goals in last season’s CFP semifinal win over the Sooners, including a 38-yarder in the first overtime of Georgia’s double-overtime triumph. Dicker, of course, beat Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl this season with a 40-yard game winner in the final seconds. Dicker, a freshman, is 16-for-22 on field goals with a longest kick of 52 yards. Blankenship, a junior, has 19 field goals this season with a long of 53.

EDGE: Georgia

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