If history has shown us anything, the Sugar Bowl might have bigger implications than anyone could imagine. But that, however, is dependent on whether history is a nod to a common trend, or merely a coincidence.
The Texas Longhorns will play the Georgia Bulldogs in the Longhorns’ first appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl, formerly the Bowl Championship Series, since playing the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2010 National Championship at the Rose Bowl. And it’s a really, really big deal. If you don’t think so, allow me to assist you along your troubled journey of understanding exactly why.
It’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page, so let’s lay the foundation.
For those of you who casually follow college football, this is a big deal. These bowl games bring in big money, they’re on the biggest stage as far as the build up leading into the game, and they not only serve as an end-of-season high note, but they also provide a monstrous amount of momentum for both programs involved as they look ahead to the next season.
Simply put, this isn’t the Best Buy Mobile Pennzoil Royal Caribbean Benihana Bowl. Yes, it was a good note to end the 2017 season on, beating Missouri. But the Texas Bowl (an actual bowl), is not anything to get overly excited about beyond the fact that head coach Tom Herman got an extra three weeks of practice and four more quarters with his team to grow and evaluate talent.
Ok? Cool. Hook ‘em!
A New Year’s Six Bowl, or BCS bowl, which will be referred to as “NY6 bowls” moving forward, should be treated, in their own respect and perspective, like a really big accomplishment. Because they are.
But for Texas, this should be an even bigger deal, and that’s because history tells us that the Longhorns appearing in this type of bowl game, with their quarterback position sewn up for at least the next season, usually points to an even bigger level of success the next year — an appearance in the National Championship game.
Okay, okay. Everybody breathe. Before you scroll down the page 90 mph, moving your mouse so fast it flies out of your hand and through the cubicle next to you, reel it in and give it a minute to breathe. I didn’t say Texas will be in the national championship. I am saying that the current state of this program, and this roster, with the appearance in a NY6 bowl, for all intents and purposes, could very well be in the national title conversation next season.
In 2004, it was Vince Young at the Rose Bowl. The following season, Young was a Heisman finalist who led Texas to the Big 12 Championship, and the BCS National Championship game. Turn on Longhorn Network if you don’t remember how that one turned out.
In 2008, it was Colt McCoy at the Fiesta Bowl. The following season, McCoy was a Heisman finalist who led Texas to the Big 12 Championship, and the BCS National Championship game. But don’t ever, for any reason — ever — turn on highlights from that one if you don’t remember how it turned out. I beg you. (In fact, let’s just take all video, stories, pictures and memories from the 2008 and 2009 seasons and put them in a box and send them away on the next NASA shuttle to Mars.)
In 2018, it will be Sam Ehlinger at the Sugar Bowl. The following season, Ehlinger will return, already as high as sixth in some 2019 Heisman watch outlook lists, prepared to take Texas back to the Big 12 Championship game with hopes of having a say in the College Football Playoff.
And the best part about 2019 is the Big 12 itself. For the first time since being named the Royal Czar of Oklahoma Football, Lincoln Riley (who is an incredibly bright football mind and a good coach) will almost certainly not have a Heisman-winning quarterback running his offense.
This is not to say Oklahoma won’t be any good, rather I’m just simply saying — AND HEAR ME OUT — that it will be interesting to see what Oklahoma is under Riley without two very talented quarterbacks. Plan and simple: Texas should be able to earn a trip back to Dallas for the conference championship. Whether they do so with one, or two, or no losses will be the big question — especially with an early-season-showdown with LSU.
To say that a win over Georgia would boost the culture, morale, and anticipation heading into 2019 is a massive understatement. While the decisions made by Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey regarding their futures will have a huge impact on the Texas offense in 2019, Ehlinger returning under center for what would essentially be his third season as the starter should not be discounted even if his top two targets decide to head to the NFL. Ehlinger will have the type of experience that will put him into a position to make other players around him better, as opposed to his success solely relying on certain members of the Texas offense.
Additionally, Ehlinger will have running back Keaontay Ingram primed for a potential breakout season (by Texas standards) and a squad of capable wide receivers to target. Between Jan. 2, 2019 and the the season opener in September, much will happen that can impact the momentum Texas will have when next season arrives.
Whether Longhorns football has some sort luck that is solely connected to the alignment of the stars and blessings sent down from the football gods is unknown. I mean, sure, it could very well be the case. But I don’t write about superstition and witchcraft.
If history has shown us one thing that, until proven otherwise, has held true throughout the years, there is every reason to believe Texas has everything in place for 2019 that would make a win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl an incredibly solid foundation to build on during the offseason.
If the Longhorns beat the Bulldogs, there’s no reason not to think that when the preseason rankings are released next August, Texas will be a top 10 team with a quarterback in the Heisman conversation and the odds to win the Big 12 in its favor. Here’s to hoping history continues to repeat itself.