NEW ORLEANS — Georgia showed up loaded for Bears at the Sugar Bowl, a young team determined to prove it could get the job done despite adversity.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (12-2) took over the game in the second quarter en route to the 26-14 Sugar Bowl win over No. 7-ranked Baylor (11-3) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Many questioned how Georgia would handle missing so many players. There were 12 former starters sidelined by injuries, academics, suspensions or decisions to begin preparing for the NFL draft.
The Bulldogs answered that question convincingly, forcing three turnovers while outgaining the Bears 380-295.
Georgia went up 10-0 less than three minutes into the second quarter, and Baylor was down double digits the remainder of the game.
Freshman receiver George Pickens was named the Sugar Bowl MVP. Pickens reeled in 12 catches for 175 yards with a TD. The 12 catches tied a school record for most catches in a bowl game (Hines Ward).
Pickens was one of three freshmen making their first career starts for Georgia.
Redshirt freshman Warren Ericson started at right guard on a shuffled offensive line missing three starters.
Tailback Zamir White started in place D’Andre Swift, who was limited two a handful of snaps on account of a shoulder injury. White had 92 yards on 18 carries and a TD.
Freshman safety Lewis Cine started in place of All-American J.R. Reed and recorded six tackles in his second career start.
Quarterback Jake Fromm was 20-of-30 passing for 250 yards with 2 touchdowns, snapping a string of five games where he had completed less than 50 percent of his passes.
Fromm, along with safety Richard LeCounte and guard Solomon Kindley is considering turning pro.
Junior tailback D’Andre Swift, a projected first-round pick who played sparingly despite an injured shoulder, is expected to go pro but has not made any announcement.
No scoring in fourth quarter.
Injury: Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer leaves with an apparent head injury with 8:44 remaining in regulation.
Georgia 26, Baylor 14, 4:10: Charlie Brewer 1-yard run (John Mayers kick). Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:01. Key play: Controversial pass interference penalty on Mark Webb, moved ball to 2-yard line.
Georgia 26, Baylor 7, 7:16: Zamir White 13-yard run (Rodrigo Blankenship kick). Drive: 7 plays, 47 yards, 2:46. Key play: Jake Camarda 6-yard run on fake field goal to Baylor 13.
Great execution on the fake FG! pic.twitter.com/oxUTD7oSH1
— CoachesCollaborate (@coachescollab) January 2, 2020
Georgia 19, Baylor 7, 12:14: Denzel Mims 12-yard pass from Charlie Brewer (John Mayers kick). Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 2:46. Key play: Denzel Mims 40-yard catch from Charlie Brewer to UGA 35.
Injury: James Cook has rib injury, questionable to return
Jake Fromm 14-of-19, 190 yards, 2 TDs
Charlie Brewer 13-of-22, 75 yards, 1 INT
Zamir White 12 carries, 58 yards
John Lovett 3 carries 18 yards
George Pickens 11 catches, 165 yards, TD
Trestan Ebner 3 catches, 27 yards
Georgia 19, Baylor 0, 1:51: Matt Landers 16-yard catch from Jake Fromm (2-point conversion pass incomplete). Drive: 7 plays, 71 yards, 2:52. Key play: George Pickens 27-yard pass from Jake Fromm to Baylor 40.
Georgia 13, Baylor 0, 8:08: Rodrigo Blankenship 31-yard field goal. Drive: 9 plays, 45 yards, 3:36. Key play: Tyler Simmons 15-yard end around to Baylor 21.
Jake Fromm dropped this one right in the bucket 🎯 pic.twitter.com/TnpUhn0Rbn
— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2020
Georgia 10, Baylor 0, 12:28: George Pickens 27-yard catch from Jake Fromm (Rodrigo Blankenship kick). Drive: 8 plays, 85 yards, 2:23. Key play: George Pickens 19-yard catch on third-and-1 at UGA 24.
Georgia 3, Baylor 0, 0:49: Rodrigo Blankenship 24-yard field goal. Drive: 6 plays, 74 yards, 2:14. Key play: George Pickens 45-yard catch from Jake Fromm to Baylor 15.
One-handed INT snag 🤚 pic.twitter.com/aFKMnfUUIh
— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2020
6:45 Richard LeCounte interception and 8-yard return to UGA 26
First-time starters: WR George Pickens, FS Lewis Cine, RG Warren Ericson, RB Zamir White
Baylor wins toss, defers
NEW ORLEANS — Jake Fromm set the bar high for himself and Georgia football two years ago when he quarterbacked the team to an SEC title and CFP game appearance.
Fromm had future NFL stars Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to hand off to, and no less than five future NFL pass catchers at his disposal.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs are still talented, and that will be on display at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday in the Sugar Bowl against No. 7 Baylor, but Fromm has more challenges.
Georgia is missing three offensive line starters, its two most explosive receivers and likely its top two running backs against a Bears’ unit that led the Big 12 in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense.
Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow, however, points out that Fromm provides an edge like no other quarterback the Bears have seen this season.
[“Jake] Fromm calls the whole game at the line of scrimmage, they put a lot on him, I even think he calls the protections,” Snow said. “So they put a lot on their quarterback. He’s really a bright guy. He’s fun to watch play quarterback. So we’ve got our hands full.”
Cornerback Graylan Arnold said Fromm’s ability to pick up on things makes it harder for defenses to adjust quickly.
“He is the type of quarterback where he does not really need the coaches to make a check for him,” Arnold said. “He knows how to make the check himself and read coverages – whatever he feels like, he can go with the call.”
Fromm will have his work cut out for him, the Bears with a school-record 43 sacks this season along with leading the Big 12 with 30 takeaways.
But Fromm insists he’s comfortable and confident with all the new pieces around him tonight, notably offensive tackles Cade Mays and Jamaree Salyer.
“Cade and Jamaree, they are ready, they’ve played a lot of football, it’s not something they haven’t been in, they’ve played in big-time situations, so they are ready,” Fromm said. “ If I’m focused on who is there and who is not there, then I can’t do my job.
“I have to trust the guys that are there to do their job.”
Game Captains: Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift, Charlie Woerner and Monty Rice
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) January 1, 2020