Bears to Watch in the Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Baylor

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Bears to Watch in the Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Baylor

Photo: Quarterback Charlie Brewer (12), Baylor University Athletics
Photo: Quarterback Charlie Brewer (12), Baylor University Athletics

CHARLIE BREWER (QB, #12)

Brewer will lead the Baylor attack against the Bulldogs’ defense after passing for 2,950 yards and 20 touchdowns in the Bears’ 11-2 season. He has completed 65.2 percent of his attempts while throwing six interceptions. The 6-1, 206-pound junior, who threw for more than 3,000 yards in his sophomore season in 2018, is also Baylor’s third-leading rusher with a net of 337 yards and has tallied 10 touchdowns. Brewer, who had to leave the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma after taking a shot to the head in the second quarter, is one of the most accomplished field generals in the Big 12 Conference and Georgia’s defense will have to step up in New Orleans, after being riddled by LSU’s Joe Burrow in the SEC Championship Game.

DENZEL MIMS (WR, #5)

While the Bears’ running attack averages 174.5 yards per game and is led by John Lovett (#7) and JaMycal Hasty (#6) with almost identical rushing totals of 637 and 633 yards, respectively, the Baylor passing game is putting up 256.7 yards per outing and it’s Mims, a 6-3, 215-pound senior, who is Charlie Brewer’s primary target when the Bears take to the air. Mims has 61 catches for 945 yards and 11 touchdowns this season so the Bulldog secondary can’t allow this guy to make big receptions downfield, again, like the LSU wideouts did in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

JAMES LYNCH (DE, #93)

Talk about disrupting offenses, this 6-4, 295-pound junior has done it all season long. Lynch, while being named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year, has recorded — get this — 12.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles-for-loss. Of course, he’s all Big 12 First Team Defense and is also a finalist for the Hendricks Award, given to the defensive end of the year in college football. With Lynch leading the way, the Bears lead the nation in sacks with 20 … when rushing just three. Certainly, Georgia’s offensive front is facing one of its biggest challenges of the season in attempting to block James Lynch.

 Photo: Linebacker Terrel Bernard (26), Baylor University Athletics
Photo: Linebacker Terrel Bernard (26), Baylor University Athletics

TERREL BERNARD (LB, #26)

Bernard is the leading tackler for a Baylor defensive unit that has given up just 19.3 points per game this season while playing in the offensive-minded Big 12. The 6-1, 222-pound sophomore has totaled 107 stops while notching 9.5 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks and teams with James Lynch and safety Grayland Arnold to make the Bears’ defense a formidable one for opposing offenses to go against.

GRAYLAND ARNOLD (SAF, #1)

Arnold, a 5-10, 190-pound junior, is the leader of the Bears’ secondary at his safety position. He has picked off six passes this season and also recorded 40 tackles, including eight stops in the regular-season meeting with Oklahoma. Georgia QB Jake Fromm, who completed less than 50 percent of his passes in the Bulldogs’ last five games, will need to regain his accuracy against Grayland Arnold and the Baylor secondary.

MATT RHULE (Baylor Head Coach)

Now in his third season at the Bears’ helm, Rhule has steered Baylor to a sparkling 11-2 record and No. 7 national ranking heading into the Sugar Bowl matchup with also 11-2 Georgia. Those 11 victories include a 24-10 win over Texas — the same Longhorn team that whipped the Bulldogs in last year’s Sugar Bowl — a 45-27 waltz over Oklahoma State, a 17-14 triumph over West Virginia and a 3-overtime, 29-23 win over TCU. The lone defeats were both to the now 4th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, by 34-31 in the regular-season meeting Nov. 16 and in the Big 12 championship game, by 30-23 in overtime on Dec. 7. Last season, en route to a 7-6 finish, Rhule became only the second Baylor coach in the last 50 years to take his team to a bowl in year two, the Bears beating Vanderbilt 45-38 in the Texas Bowl. Rhule has constructed a stingy defense and prolific passing offense at Baylor, behind quarterback Charlie Brewer.

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.