Allstate Sugar Bowl Preview
When this game got announced, it was instantly a top-three bowl game for me to watch. Both of these teams are top-ten in the nation and although neither of them are necessarily at full-strength, it’s still a battle between two great teams.
If there’s one thing that the Bulldogs love to do, it’s run the football. With the offensive line and running back talent that Georgia possesses, who can blame them. Unfortunately, offensive tackles Isaiah Wilson and Andrew Thomas are skipping the bowl game in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Under center, Jake Fromm is currently nursing a sprained left ankle but even when healthy has been vastly underwhelming this season. Coming into the season as a top-three quarterback prospect for the 2020 Draft, Fromm now enters the Sugar Bowl as a second-rounder at best in most scouts’ eyes. Fromm typically can’t handle the whole offense being put into his hands but he’s going to have to pick up more of the load with the offensive line not at full-strength.
The skill positions are underrated for Georgia. We all know how talented D’Andre Swift is in the backfield (currently my RB1 for the 2020 NFL Draft) along with his backups in Brian Herrien and Zamir White. The receivers for Georgia are where I think the disrespect comes in. From a production standpoint, they don’t look great, but when watching the tape, guys like Demetris Robertson, George Pickens, and Lawrence Cager stand out.
The weakness of this Baylor offense is undoubtedly the offensive line. Whether it’s due to penalties or inability to maintain blocks, the offensive line has been what handicapped the offense.
At quarterback, Charlie Brewer has been what drives this offense. The efficiency of Brewer under center has helped immensely as Baylor takes the approach of putting up some points but playing stout defense, just making the defense’s job easier. Brewer has also shown the ability to carry the team with his legs before, as he led the team in carries and rushing touchdowns. Escapability is one of Brewer’s best traits and he’ll likely need to excel there against the Bulldogs.
Baylor has a fun set of skill position players. At running back, the stable of JaMycal Hasty, John Lovett, and Trestan Ebner are more than capable of getting the job done against almost anybody. The receivers start with Denzel Mims but Josh Fleeks, Chris Platt, RJ Sneed, and TyQuan Thornton are all more than capable of contributing big plays at any moment.
Defensively, I’d expect Georgia to be aggressively attacking the line of scrimmage to try and either stuff the run or disrupt Charlie Brewer in the backfield. This front seven is stout against the run and underwhelming at sacking the quarterback. While today should be one of the easiest matchups they’ve faced all season in terms of allowing pressures, it’s just a matter of whether or not the Bulldogs can finish.
In the secondary, the Bulldogs are going to have to play aggressive and keep deep safety help because these Baylor receivers have the ability to take the top off the defense at any given time. Being physical at the line of scrimmage and keeping at least one safety deep is the best strategy to shutting down these receivers.
Defensively, this game has a great matchup in the front seven where Big-XII Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American First-Team selection James Lynch. With Lynch rushing against backup linemen, it opens Baylor to keep seven or eight in coverage with Terrel Bernard and Jordan Williams over the middle.
On the back end, Grayland Arnold is likely going to be put in coverage consistently to patrol if Jake Fromm attempts any deep passes. I’d expect Chris Miller and Henry Black to alternate as the deep safety while the other is attacking the line of scrimmage for run plays.
Just to clarify, when I’m speaking about X-factors here, I’m merely talking about the guys who will have the biggest impact on this game, not necessarily just the best players. These are the guys that if they play well, their team should win, if they don’t, good luck.
For Georgia, I’d mark Jake Fromm and Richard Lecounte III as the x-factors. The offense will rely more on Jake Fromm now than they had to all season prior to tonight so his performance is more important than ever. Lecounte III will have the responsibility of keeping an eye on Baylor’s talented receiving core while also worrying about underneath routes and Charlie Brewer scrambles.
On Baylor’s side of the ball, Denzel Mims and James Lynch are the x-factors tonight. When Denzel Mims has a quiet game, it makes a Baylor win much more difficult to achieve as to when he erupts for big plays. James Lynch is a major key tonight, as he’ll be primarily facing backup tackles, so if he can manage to get pressure consistently, it allows the Bears defense to focus more on coverage.
Spread: UGA -3.5
I’d say the best option here is to take Baylor +3.5. I’m expecting Baylor to be able to topple the not full-strength Georgia team in the Sugar Bowl.
The under is likely the best route to take here for gamblers. Baylor likely isn’t going to put up a ton of points and Georgia will at least start the Sugar Bowl off by trying to run the ball and manage clock.