Texas Longhorns vs. Georgia Bulldogs (-10.5)
Tue., January 1, 8:45 p.m. ET
Three things to know before betting on Texas-Georgia:
1. Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has made all the right strides in his sophomore season, improving in every statistical category. In the SEC, he is second to only Heisman contender Tua Tagovailoa in passer rating (175.81), touchdown passes (27), and completion percentage (68.4). Fromm’s 300-yard, three-touchdown performance against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game was his best outing of the season and led to a cover against the spread. With Fromm and running back D’Andre Swift, Georgia should be able to rack up big gains and points against a Texas defense that ranks 66th in the nation in yards allowed per play (5.68). Over the second half of the season, Georgia has scored 34-plus points against elite SEC defenses like Florida and Kentucky, and had no problem moving the ball against Alabama in the conference championship.
2. While the Georgia defense lost some big names from last year’s team, this is still a unit that no one wants to play. After obliterating nearly every defense he faced this year, Tagovailoa completed only 10 of 25 pass attempts in the SEC Championship Game and threw two interceptions, doubling his total for the entire season. Georgia spent much of the day shutting down an offense that had been nearly unstoppable the rest of the season.
If Alabama struggled against Georgia, it will be even tougher for the Longhorns. Texas had some eye-raising struggles against some of the Big 12’s weaker teams. The Longhorns averaged only 23.5 points in games against Baylor and Kansas. Even against Oklahoma’s permissive defense, Texas still failed to put up 30 points in the conference title game. Those sorts of efforts won’t cut it against the physically superior Bulldogs.
3. Under Texas head coach Tom Herman, the Longhorns are 7-2 against the spread when getting points. The Horns were 2-1 ATS as underdogs this year, going 1-1 in two games against Oklahoma and beating a TCU team at home in September that, in retrospect, was severely overrated.
Kirby Smart’s success against the spread, however, is unconditional. Smart has led Georgia to a 19-9 ATS record since taking over before last season. Only six other programs have a better ATS mark. Despite missing the playoff, there are still a lot of smart people that think Georgia is one of the four best teams in college football this season. The Bulldogs believe that, too, and will look to prove it by winning the Sugar Bowl by a commanding margin.
Pick: Georgia -10.5
Confidence Level: Very High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)
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