For the Baylor Bears, their berth in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day market marks a rebirth for the program, after suffering through a 1-11 season two years ago when the school’s football program was decimated in the aftermath of a sexual abuse scandal. In 2019, the Bears turned that record around, posting 11 wins against just two losses — both coming to Big 12 rival Oklahoma, who beat out Baylor for a place in the College Football Playoffs as a result. Baylor finished the regular season ranked No. 8 overall.
But their 2019 Sugar Bowl opponents, the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs played in the same bowl game last year, losing to Texas, as ESPN reported. The Bulldogs are also coming off a humiliating defeat to top-ranked LSU in the SEC championship game and will be looking to avoid concluding a second consecutive season with back-to-back losses.
The meeting will be the fifth all-time between the two college football powerhouses, with Georgia winning all of the previous four meetings going back to 1975. The teams have not played an official game since 1989, however, when Georgia came away with a 15-3 victory.
For Baylor, however, the difference this time could be quarterback Jake Brewer, who expects to return from a concussion suffered in the Big 12 title game loss to Oklahoma. Brewer, a junior, is already second only Robert Griffin III in total completions by a Baylor quarterback.
College Football Geek offers a statistical preview of the Sugar Bowl game, in the video below.
Both teams come in at 11-2, and both are coming off losses in conference title games. But perhaps due to the recent histories of the two schools, oddsmakers have Georgia installed as 5 1/2 point favorites heading into the Sugar Bowl, according to USA Today.
Another factor in naming Georgia the favorite in the game is the simple fact that the Bulldogs’ defense is ranked second-best in the country, allowing a paltry 12.5 points per game and letting an opponent score 20 or more only once in the SEC title game loss to LSU when they allowed 36 points.
Baylor, also, may be suffering from “just happy to be here” syndrome after their remarkable rebuild under Head Coach Matt Rhule, going from a one-win season to a major bowl bid in just two seasons.
“Obviously, you want to win all the time,” Brewer told The Associated Press.
“But I think that the stuff that I’ve had to go through, along with my teammates, not only as a football player, but just as a man, just growing up in life – learned a lot of lessons, been through a lot. I think it’s paid off.”
The Sugar Bowl kicks off at 7:45 p.m. CST at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on New Year’s Day. The ESPN network will televise the game nationally.