No. 5 Georgia leaned on its elite defense as well as a breakout half from freshman wide receiver George Pickens en route to a 26-14 win against No. 7 Baylor in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night.
Baylor, who did fight valiantly in the second half, found itself down 19-0 at halftime following an absurd start for Pickens, who totaled 11 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown in the first two quarters. Pickens finished the game with 12 catches on 15 targets for 175 yards and the score, which was an absolute dime from Fromm in the first half.
One year after losing to Texas in the same game in a similar position as the top-ranked SEC team outside of the College Football Playoff, the Bulldogs did not show up with an effort that would leave fans wondering about the team's motivations. Georgia was down multiple starters on the offensive line and running back D'Andre Swift played in limited situations, but every one of those highly-recruited Georgia backups seemed dialed in to making Wednesday night's effort in New Orleans count.
Here now are three things to know about Georgia's Sugar Bowl victory over Baylor.
1. Kirby Smart called a fake that might have sealed the win: One of the best recruiters in the country, Smart has been criticized for some of his decisions in the very few losses during his reign as Georgia's coach. Against Baylor, he called a fake field goal that not only worked but probably closed the door on a Bears comeback effort. Georgia's offense wasn't nearly as effective in the third quarter, and as the Bulldogs stared down a third touchdown-less red zone opportunity, Smart flipped the game's narrative. The fake got Georgia a first down and Zamir White hammered his way forward for a touchdown on the next play.
2. Future of Georgia's passing attack was on display: It may have only been one half of dominance, but it's evident Pickens' two years of remaining eligibility are going to be filled with him as a fan-favorite in Athens. The former blue-chip prospect showed flashes during the season of how he can utilize his physical gifts to dominate on the field at the college level, but against Baylor, it came together in one of the best-ever performances by a Georgia wide receiver in a bowl game. And again ... one half!
It's been since the days of Tavarres King or A.J. Green before him that Georgia's had one leading alpha at the wide receiver. Pickens led the team in receiving in 2019, but even that season feels like there was meat left on the bone. Look for Pickens to become one of college football's biggest stars at the wide receiver position in 2020.
3. Jake Fromm and Matt Rhule have NFL decisions to consider: Both Georgia and Baylor fans watched the Sugar Bowl wondering if key figures from their 2019 squads would be back for 2020. Fromm is draft-eligible, and has carried an early-round NFL Draft projection for much of his time as a three-year starter for the Bulldogs. No one seems to have a good read on where he's leaning, as the potential for his return remains a realistic possibility.
Rhule is a little bit tougher to predict, though he's maintained transparency with his team as NFL franchises have been kept at bay until the conclusion of this Sugar Bowl. The Panthers and the Giants are reportedly among the teams looking to speak to Rhule, who confirmed that he plans on listening but remains committed to the future at Baylor. This isn't the first time that Rhule has been mentioned as a potential candidate for an NFL job, but his stock has also never been higher than now coming off a Big 12 Championship Game appearance.