For the first time since seventh-ranked, 9-1-1 Georgia upset second-ranked 11-0 Texas 10-9 in the Cotton Bowl on January 2, 1984, these two college football blue bloods will square off in the Sugar Bowl New Year’s Night at 8:45 p.m. EST in New Orleans.
Both of these programs are in the midst of early success under the watches of young head coaches. In his third season at the helm of his alma mater, Kirby Smart has led the Bulldogs to great success. Georgia suffered a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in last season’s national championship game. This season’s team, with freshmen and sophomores comprising nearly 70 percent of the roster, posted an 11-1 regular season, with each victory coming by at least 14 points. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Alabama again came away with the win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, this time in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, as Georgia suffered a crushing 35-28 loss.
Fifth-ranked Georgia was the first team out of the playoffs.
Texas, in Tom Herman’s second season at the helm, beat Oklahoma in Dallas in October and went 9-3 with a one-point loss to West Virginia, a three-point loss to Oklahoma State and a head-scratching season-opening setback to Maryland. The Longhorns made the Big XII Championship Game, but fell in a back-and-forth contest to their arch-rival Sooners in a rematch.
So with Georgia again on the doorstep, with a tremendous upwards trajectory, the Bulldogs seek a strong close to the season. A win over Texas would give the Bulldogs Rose and Sugar Bowl triumphs over Oklahoma and the ‘Horns in back to back years, and potentially a No. 3 national ranking, depending on how the other games play out. A win over Texas could also cement Georgia’s case that it should have been one of those four.
Ranked 15th, this is a chance for Texas to get to 10-4 on the year and secure a victory in a major bowl over a program that clearly over the last couple of seasons has been one of the three or four best in all of college football.
These are the types of games both of these programs aim to play in every season. With Smart and Herman, those are the goals year in and year out. With the potential, in-state recruiting bases, support systems and overall talent on campus and coming in, the odds are pretty good that the Bulldogs and Longhorns could see other again sooner – in one of those playoff games in the near future – than the 2020’s home and home series that was recently scheduled.
It has been a long time since that Cotton Bowl, and it will be great to hear How ‘Bout Them Dawgs?!?! And “Hook ‘Em Horns” under the same roof once again.