NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — For the first time since 2009, Texas has an opportunity to secure 10 wins in a season.
Standing in their way? The No. 5 ranked Georgia Bulldogs, fresh off of narrowly missing a shot to compete in the four-team college football playoff.
ESPN gives Texas a 22.6 percent chance of winning this game, according to its power index.
UT PICK 'EM STANDINGS
So, after UT lost to Oklahoma 39-27 in Big 12 Championship, let's take a look at the KVUE UT pick 'em standings:
Mike Barnes -- 9-2
Shawn Clynch -- 9-2
Bryan Mays -- 8-3
Jay Wallis -- 7-4
Hank Cavagnaro -- 7-4
Paul Livengood -- 7-4
Tim Ryan -- 7-4
Andrew McKibbin -- 6-4 ***(McKibbin was on vacation for the first pick)***
KVUE STAFF PICKS ITS SUGAR BOWL WINNER
Now, the KVUE staff members made their picks for the Texas-Georgia game. This is what they predicted:
Mike Barnes, KVUE Sports Director:
Texas 31, Georgia 45.
Texas may have more to play for, but they can’t match Georgia’s offense and big game experience. Georgia wins 45-31.
Shawn Clynch, KVUE Sports Reporter:
The Dawgs and Longhorns -- a battle between two of college football’s marquee programs.
Better yet, it’s the SEC versus the Big 12. It’s UGA (the Bulldog) vs Bevo. On paper, Georgia should dominate due to the physical nature of the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive lines.
This won’t be a defensive struggle as it was when these two last met in the 1984 Cotton Bowl -- a game Texas lost, 10-9. It ultimately cost Texas the national title because Miami upset No. 1 Nebraska later that night in the Orange Bowl.
This is beginning to appear to me as a game in which Texas not only has a chance, but should be in position to win 10 games in a season for the first time since 2009.
Why? One significant reason. I honestly don’t believe Georgia will be "all in" so to speak as Texas will be.
Kirby Smart’s Dawgs had its focus set on the four-team playoff, but Alabama deflated UGA in the SEC Championship by rallying back. I honestly don’t feel the Sugar Bowl will mean as much to Georgia as it will to the Longhorns.
Sam Ehlinger or Jake Fromm?
Here’s the deal for Ehlinger: attack the UGA secondary with explosive down field pass attempts to Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and Colin Johnson. It’s a high percentage opportunity to gain 30+ yards or gain 15 yards due to pass interference penalties.
The height difference and athletic ability by both of those receivers will be a task for UGA to defend.
The Sugar Bowl may be the final game in a Longhorn uniform for both Johnson and Humphrey -- both may enter the NFL Draft afterwards.
The x-factor for UT’s offense against UGA may be senior tight end, Andrew Beck.
What Texas doesn’t want to do is rely on the running game and being forced to protect Ehlinger for slow forming plays. UGA’s defensive line will win those battles.
The Texas defense line will have a tall task of gaining leverage against UGA’s offensive line, which is an imposing group of maulers.
If Texas forces UGA into passing the ball, the Longhorns secondary will win those battles.
The Sugar Bowl will come down to which team’s will to win the physical battle up front. It’s a battle I think will be determined late.
Georgia beats Texas, 31-27.
Paul Livengood, KVUE Digital Sports Producer/Digital Desk Editor:
Texas 30 Georgia 35.
Just too much SEC power for this Texas team. Jake Fromm will outperform Sam Ehlinger. Texas plays up to their competition, so they'll keep it close. However, Georgia's Dawgs are just too much for the Longhorns in the end.
Bryan Mays, KVUE Daybreak Anchor:
Texas 27, Georgia 24.
Texas has played to the level of their competition all season and that will continue. This game is huge for the Longhorns and a consolation prize for Georgia. Look for Texas to play their best game of the season and cap a 10-win year with the upset 27-24. These two teams will meet again in the playoffs next season.
Hank Cavagnaro, KVUE News Reporter:
Texas 24, Georgia 45.
I believe Georgia is the second best team in the country. The only way UT has a chance to win this game is if the Dawgs just lose interest after not making the four-team playoff. Otherwise, Georgia just has better horses than UT does. Texas has had a great season, but the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma showed they still don't have the player talent to compete with the big name programs again on a week-to-week basis. That being said, the future is bright for this Longhorns squad.
Jay Wallis, KVUE News Reporter:
Texas 23, Georgia 31.
As up-and-down as the Tom Herman Longhorns era has been, his teams rarely get blown out. While Georgia is the all-around better team in almost all aspects, this team’s offensive firepower can match up with any team in the nation. However, the Bulldogs will use their depth to wear down the Horns and pull away in the fourth quarter.
Tim Ryan, KVUE News Director:
Texas 35, Georgia 42.
I would love to pick UT to win this game, but Georgia looks too strong. They are statistically intimidating and played Alabama to a close loss in the SEC championship. UT will score points, but not enough to keep up with Georgia’s offense. Final score: 42-35. (Note: I thought Texas would beat OU in the Big 12 Championship, so it’s clear that I’m capable of being wrong. Maybe I’ve got one more unfounded prediction in me this season).
Andrew McKibbin, KVUE Dayside Executive Producer:
Texas 21, Georgia 34.
Too much SEC-caliber for UT to hang with the Dawgs.
We also asked you: Austinites, the fans and general public. This is what you decided:
Kick off for the Allstate Sugar Bowl featuring Texas and Georgia is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. CT on Tuesday Jan. 1.