Texas rolls to upset of Georgia in Sugar Bowl

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It all began with huge Texas mascot Bevo running through barricades to go after Georgia mascot UGA.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl featured a team on the rise and an elite program disappointed in being where it was.

If anyone doubted there might be a hangover for Georgia following its narrow loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game, those doubts were erased immediately. The Bulldogs were not ready and Texas was beyond ready to take the next step in its growing program.

You can always tell when a team is not ready to play. The most obvious traits are missed tackles, a lack of discipline and poor ball security. Georgia checked those boxes early and often.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger came out wearing a No. 15 Westlake High jersey in pre-game warmups. Ehlinger, a Westlake graduate, was honoring another former Westlake quarterback by the name of Drew Brees, who wore that number at the Austin High School.

Ehlinger then went out and did his best Brees impersonation in leading his team to a convincing victory. He threw it well, ran it very well and made excellent decisions. He tied Jack Mildren’s Sugar Bowl record of three rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Ehlinger equaled that total in a 48-45 regular season win over Oklahoma.

Ehlinger went 19 of 27 for 169 yards and rushed 21 times for 64 yards and three touchdowns.

Before it was over, Texas fans were mocking Georgia with “SEC, SEC” chants. As the clock wound down, the chant changed to “overrated, overrated.” The Bulldogs deserved it. They were poor. They got whipped.

Here are my Quick Takes from the 28-21 win by Texas over Georgia:

**The game kicked off at 7:50 pm, only five minutes later than the scheduled start time.

**Georgia was without top cornerback Deandre Baker and while its sack leader in D’Andre Walker, was out with a groin injury. Defensive lineman Jordan Davis was out with a back injury.

**Texas was without star safety Caden Stearns.

**Georgia won the toss and deferred the option, giving Texas the ball first.

**That decision did not work out very well. Texas took it right to the Bulldog defense, driving 75 yards in 10 plays, taking 4:25 off the clock with quarterback Sam Ehlinger scoring on a two-yard run to give the Longhorns a 7-0 lead.

**Then, Georgia punter Jake Camarda inadvertently touched his knee to the ground fielding the snap on a punt attempt and gave Texas the ball at the Georgia 27-yard line.

**The Longhorns took advantage, with Cameron Dicker booting a 37-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with 6:05 to play in the opening quarter.

**Texas then forced a three-and-out and Camarda completely shanked what turned out to be an 11-yard punt, giving Texas the ball at midfield with 3:59 to play in the opening quarter.

**The Georgia defense held, though, and forced a Texas punt.

**It did not matter as D’Andre Swift fumbled and Gerald Wilbon of Destrehan recovered at the Georgia 12-yard line.

**The first quarter ended with Texas totaling 108 yards to just eight for Georgia.

**On the first play of the second quarter, Ehlinger raced eight yards for a score to give Texas a 17-0 lead.

**Desperately in need of drive, Georgia got one, going 75 yards in 12 plays with Jake Fromm hitting Brian Herrien on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-7 with 9:03 to play in the first half.

**The Longhorns answered with an 11 play, 62-yard drive and Dicker booted a 30-yard field goal to make it 20-7 with 4:37 to play in the first half. Georgia tackling was poor, to say the least, on the drive.

**Texas defensive back B.J. Foster limped off late in the first half. He was able to return.

**Texas held Georgia to just 29 yards rushing and 118 yards total in the first half.

**Tom Herman opted to go for an onside kick to start the second half, giving Georgia the ball at its own 40-yard line.

**Elijah Holyfield went over 1,000 yards on a 12-yard run to start the second half.

**The decision by Herman did not matter. Fromm, under pressure from linebacker Anthony Wheeler, made an awful throw with P.J. Locke, III intercepting it. The ball was terribly short and hung up forever.

**Tackle Isaiah Wilson went down on the play for Georgia but was able to return.

**Ehlinger put the game away with a one-yard touchdown run with 11:49 to play in the game. It took him four straight runs, the last three from the one-yard line, to score on fourth down. Ehlinger then hit Collin Johnson for the two-point conversion to make it 28-7.

**Georgia awakened from its offensive doldrums, taking just 1:24 to go 67 yards in just six plays with Fromm hitting Mecole Hardman on a three-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 28-14 with 10:25 to play in the game.

**Davante Davis was ejected for targeting with 1:02 to play for Texas.

**Then, linebacker Anthony Cook took a cheap shot at Fromm who was sliding down, and he was ejected. Linebacker Gary Johnson committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the same play.

**Georgia finished the drive as Fromm hit Swift on a five-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-21 with just 14 seconds left to cap a five play, 67-yard drive which took 56 seconds.

**Collin Johnson then recovered the onside kick to seal the victory for Texas.

**Tre Watson finished 92 yards rushing for Texas, tying a season best.

How good was the Texas defense? Georgia came in averaging 39 points per game against a schedule which included nine teams who played in bowl games. Todd Orlando earned his pay with an excellent game plan while his players were simply excellent.

Louisiana fans had seen this Georgia act before. On Oct. 13 at Tiger Stadium, LSU whipped the Bulldogs 36-16 by shutting down the Georgia running game and with Jake Fromm having a bad game. The Longhorns held the Bulldogs to just 72 yards rushing.

Texas followed the same script perfectly.

For Georgia and for Kirby Smart, this game will have to serve as a maturation contest. It is not as though it has not happened to a highly ranked SEC team in recent years.

Even Nick Saban could not guard against a letdown of not playing for a national championship, not once but twice. His fourth-ranked Crimson Tide lost 31-17 to Utah in 2009. His third-ranked team lost to Oklahoma 45-31 in 2014 in such games.

In 2013, fourth-ranked Florida was beaten 33-23 by a large underdog in Louisville. As the dominant conference of the century, SEC teams have a target on their chests and backs. Show up not ready to play and you will get beat by a quality team, which Texas is.

It is easy to see why LSU was interested in Jimbo Fisher. He is a good coach who clearly improved Texas A&M. It is easy to see why LSU was interested in Tom Herman. He is a good coach who is clearly improving Texas. Of course, neither would have exceeded the 10 wins Ed Orgeron posted at LSU this year. It appears all three teams got their man and are in good shape moving forward.

The win was impressive. It was decisive. Texas football is on the way to being back as a national contender. It is the first 10-win season for Texas since 2009.

For a game that was not a playoff contest, the crowd of 71,449 speaks volumes about the great level of support for both Georgia and Texas, each of whom was represented virtually equally in the stadium. It was a big win for the Allstate Sugar Bowl and for New Orleans and the region. It was a big win for Texas. Bevo set the tone in pre-game and the team followed his lead.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan


Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…

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