Wilson: The Curse of the SEC Runner-Up, and How I’m Betting the Sugar Bowl

Wilson: The Curse of the SEC Runner-Up, and How I’m Betting the Sugar Bowl article feature image

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt (95).

  • SEC teams that have just missed out on the BCS title game or College Football Playoff have mailed it in during their bowl game in the last few years.
  • Collin Wilson explains, and gives his thoughts Georgia-Texas, which fits this spot this year.

2018 Sugar Bowl Odds: Texas vs. Georgia

  • Odds: Georgia -13
  • Over/Under: 58.5
  • Date: Tuesday, Jan. 1
  • Location: New Orleans, La.
  • Time: 8:45 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of Monday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets.

The Path for Texas-Georgia

A 2017 bowl victory over Missouri for Tom Herman and the Longhorns had fans in Austin looking for a Big 12 Championship in 2018. Texas cashed a future making by making that game, but the Sooners ended their conference title hopes with a 39-27 defeat.

It has been quite the year for Texas on and off the field, from another loss to Maryland to the ‘Ok Cool, Hook Em‘ saga. Herman has proved that he is not shy of controversy, and looks to play that underdog role again in the Sugar Bowl.

Georgia spent most of the season on the path for a rematch with Alabama. The loss of Roquan Smith and other players from the 2017 roster was obvious in a road trip to Missouri, but resulted in the Bulldogs’ first loss of the season at LSU.

Georgia came out of bye week on fire up until a third quarter 28-14 lead on Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide would go on to score 21 unanswered, making Georgia the defacto runner-up in the SEC and the first team left out of the playoff.

Odds Movement for Texas-Georgia

An opener of Georgia -10 has steadily grown to -13 over the past three weeks. Thorpe Award winner Deandre Baker will not play for Georgia, leaving behind 32.5 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass breakups. The total is widely available at 58 with the lion’s share of tickets and money coming in on the over.

The Curse of the SEC Runner-Up

There may be a ‘post-hype SEC runner-up’ curse that has yet to be named. It involves an SEC school that is a national title contender but falls short of the national title game or College Football Playoff.

Many of these SEC schools show up to lesser bowls lacking motivation and play under their potential. Georgia never ranked lower than sixth in any College Football Playoff ranking in 2018, and Sugar Bowl berth sets the Dawgs right in the crosshairs of this curse.

2017 Auburn Tigers

Fresh in our memory is last year’s Auburn team that beat Georgia and Alabama, the two teams that competed for the national championship, but lost to the Dawgs in the SEC title game. In hindsight, the Auburn schedule was brutal, including games against playoff-bound Clemson and other New Year’s Day-bound teams Mississippi State and LSU.

A Peach Bowl date with undefeated Central Florida, who would retain Scott Frost for one more game, had the Tigers as 9-point favorites. An uninspired effort by Auburn saw them lose 34-27 to a Group of Five school.

2016 Auburn Tigers

Sure, this Auburn squad finished the season 8-4, but it was the second-best SEC team according to the Week 14 College Football Playoff rankings. A loss to Clemson, Mississippi State and Alabama during the regular season led to a losing effort against a Baker Mayfield Oklahoma Sooners team in the Sugar Bowl.

2014 Ole Miss and Mississippi State

A double dose of New Year’s Six losses by the SEC? Dak Prescott led the Mississippi State Bulldogs into the Egg Bowl ranked No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Ole Miss played spoiler, knocking the Bulldogs out of the playoff and a potential rematch with Alabama.

Both teams would make a New Year’s Six bowl, with the Rebels sent to the Peach Bowl and the Bulldogs off to the Orange Bowl. Ole Miss was dominated 42-3 by TCU in Atlanta, while Mississippi State lost 49-34 to Georgia Tech as a 6.5-point favorites.

2013 Alabama Crimson Tide

How do you recover from the Kick Six? As the No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama visited No. 4 Auburn for a spot in the SEC Championship Game and eventual BCS National Title. Alabama lost to possibly the greatest play in the history of the sport.

Alabama did not make the SEC Championship Game. Ranking third in the Coaches, AP, and BCS polls, the Crimson Tide packed their bags for a game with an Oklahoma Sooners team ranked 11th.

As 15-point favorites Alabama never got off the bus in New Orleans with a 45-31 loss.

Why I’m Betting Texas

There isn’t an advanced statistic out there that says Texas should win this game straight-up. The Bulldogs are third in offensive efficiency, top 15 in IsoPPP+ on both sides of the ball and rank top five in opponent passing down explosiveness.

The Longhorns rank outside the top 100 in offensive IsoPPP+, 90th in defensive success rate and 108th in opponent third down percentage.

If Georgia gets off the bus, this should be a covering effort for the SEC, but history says the curse of the SEC runner-up is in play… and that favors the Longhorns to cover and possibly outright win.

Collin’s Pick: Texas +13


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