If a handful of plays had gone in favor of the Georgia Bulldogs instead of the Alabama Crimson Tide in their previous two matchups, Georgia would have a national championship and be preparing to try and capture a second straight title in the College Football Playoff.
That’s not the case, though, as the No. 5 Bulldogs (11-2) will take on the No. 15 Texas Longhorns (9-4) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. ESPN and SEC Network college football analyst Tim Tebow thinks that Georgia just missing out on the College Football Playoff will serve as a negative going into the matchup with Texas.
“I thought Georgia was one of the top few best teams in the country, should have been in the College Football Playoff,” Tebow said. “But that being said, going into the Sugar Bowl there’s so little for them to play for. They thought they had beat Alabama. That was a SEC Championship Game they let slip through their fingers. College Football Playoff? Slipped through their fingers. Now for the time leading up to the game, where’s your motivation? Where is your edge? Where is that fire?
“That is something that the leaders of Georgia really have to lock in and say, ‘Hey you know what? We’re playing for pride. We’re playing a big program in Texas.’ But a lot of these guys are going to say, ‘Listen, we don’t care about Texas. We care about Bama. We let that one get away. Now we’re going to play the 15th-ranked team in the country?’ It’s like the motivation isn’t there, so I’m a little bit nervous about this game. And (Georgia head coach) Kirby Smart has to do a really good job of disciplining his players, locking in, focusing.
“Because the difference between being good and great is right here (Tebow holds index finger and thumb close together). It’s in the focus. It’s in the attention to detail. It’s in the tiny things. And will Georgia be able to lock in to do that, when yeah the Sugar Bowl is an amazing game. I loved playing in it. It’s a special game, but it doesn’t compare to the game they would’ve played in if they won. So where are they going to find that motivation? I think that’s something that they have to lock in and really find.”
While Tebow expressed concern about where Georgia will draw its motivation from, Georgia senior cornerback Deandre Baker, who won the 2018 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive back, on Thursday says the Bulldogs will be energized to send the seniors out with a victory. Baker is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he announced earlier this week that he would not skip the Sugar Bowl.
“I just want to finish right with my teammates and go out with a W,” Baker said. “We had a bad taste in our mouth leaving Mercedes-Benz Stadium (after the SEC Championship Game loss to Alabama). I want to go out with a win with the seniors. Get another W, and hopefully get the younger guys started right for next year.”