Texas earns New Year’s date with Georgia in Sugar Bowl

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Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

The stale taste from Texas’ 39-27 loss to then-No. 6 Oklahoma might have just gotten a little sweeter on Sunday morning.

The Longhorns have earned their first New Year’s Six bid since the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff in 2014. The No. 15 Texas Longhorns will be heading to New Orleans for a date with No. 5 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.

“Texas and Georgia are two of the marquee names in college football,” said Allstate Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan in a press release. “Both programs have tremendous history and have strong traveling fan bases.  With this matchup we’re to be adding another great chapter to Sugar Bowl history.”

How Texas got here

Before Texas and Oklahoma kicked off the conference championship, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed that Texas could get into the New Year’s Six bowl even with a loss.

The winner of the Big 12 Championship automatically secures the bid to the Sugar Bowl, but with the Sooners launching into the College Football Playoff, the Longhorns now fill in for the New Year’s Six matchup.

Even after falling one game short of winning the Big 12 title, Texas players said they felt like they belonged in a New Year’s Six game with their résumé and body of work throughout the season.

After the game, an emotional Sam Ehlinger said he is making it a mission to never let this school feel this disappointment again. That mission begins against one of the best teams in the country and SEC powerhouse, No. 5 Georgia.

How Georgia got here

The Bulldogs were one spot away from reaching the College Football Playoff for the second straight year.

Georgia was closer to beating No. 1 Alabama than any other team the Crimson Tide played all season. The Bulldogs held a 14-point lead over the defending champions, and after Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went down with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter, Georgia appeared to be setting itself up for an upset victory.

Then, Alabama backup quarterback, and former starter, Jalen Hurts entered the game. Hurts tied the game at 28-28 with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Georgia gave the ball to the Crimson Tide once again, giving Hurts more than enough time for a game-winning touchdown with just over a minute left.

Despite the loss, Georgia still had an argument for the fourth and final spot in the playoff. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart made sure to pitch their case immediately after the game.

“It boils down to one thing: Do you want the four best teams in our not? It’s that simple,” Smart said during the postgame press conference. “… Give that coach across the sideline a vote for who he doesn't want to play. It’ll start with us. I promise you he doesn't want to play us. It’s not our decision, it’s their decision.”

Nick Saban didn’t shy away from campaigning for the Bulldogs either.

“Based on the teams we’ve played this year, I think (Georgia) deserves to be in the playoff as well. I sure as hell don’t want to play them again, but that’s the best compliment I can give them.”

Similar to the Big 12, the SEC champion has the automatic bid for the Sugar Bowl. However, with Alabama reaching yet another playoff, Georgia will do just as Texas and fill in for a New Year’s Six game, which will feature two teams coming off disappointing conference championships.

Texas will make its fourth appearance in the Sugar Bowl while Georgia will arrive to the Superdome for its 10th Sugar Bowl matchup.