tBBC Preview: The Gator Bowl – Nebraska vs. Georgia

Written December 29th, 2013 by WVaBuckeye

The seemingly annual battle of teams who’ve disappointed their fanbases.

GatorBowl2012

Nebraska (8-4, 5-3 B1G) vs. Georgia (8-4, 5-3 SEC)

Wednesday, January 1 Noon ESPN2

Everbank Field, Jacksonville, Florida

These two teams have seen each other a grand total of . . . wait for it . . . two times. The last time came last bowl season in the Capital One bowl which was a high powered shoot-out between the two. Neither electing to play much defense the Bulldogs beat the Huskers 45-31 in Orlando. Their last meeting prior to that was the Sun Bowl in 1969 which the then top of the food chain Huskers under Bob Devaney destroyed Georgia 45-6. They would win the AP National title in 1970.

Neither team finished the season the way they had hoped or they way they had started it. Georgia began the year in the top ten and loaded with talent that should have taken them to the title game. Injuries to several of their best players on offense and defense, the Bulldogs did the best they could to become bowl eligible. Nebraska suffered an early non-conference loss to UCLA at home and had time to recover but a loss to Minnesota in week seven soured their chances at a B1G title.

I found a great website that shows a ton of statistics that can have an impact on your choice to win this game, which includes a Transitive Wins which is like the man that beat the man that beat the man. StatMilk Nebraska v. Georgia.

nebraskaNebraska

Nebraska has one of the best players in the B1G over the last two seasons in Taylor Martinez but his injury would hand that off to junior Ameer Abdullah, who finished this season with over 15oo yards rushing and 8 touchdowns to go along with 26 receptions for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns. He rushed for over a hundred yards in eight straight games this season and did so in ten of the twelve games. Illinois was a sieve against most teams and Abdullah almost went for as much as Carlos Hyde against them pulling down a cool 225 averaging 11.3 a carry and scoring 2 touchdowns. Abdullah edged out Hyde for the over-allpurpose yardage per game lead with 154 a clip. If he returns for his senior season next year, he will be a handful and threaten to go over 2,000.

The Defense was short on playmakers this season and gave up some yards and points which led to a lot of fans calling for Bo Pellini’s head at times. They are a far cry from the Black Shirts of the past and need some work to get there. Other than Corey Cooper the lone defensive player that really made noise this season was DE Randy Gregory. The 6’6″ 230 defensive end didn’t finish far behind Ryan Shazier in the tackles for loss category and finished the year with 14 solo for a little more than 1 per game and was the anchor of the line.

The season high and low came in back to back weeks and were to finish the season with them. Needing a prayer against Penn State, the Huskers hit a hail mary to win the game and give themselves a shot at redemption to end the regular season. Their low point came the following week when they ran into an Iowa defense trying to do the same thing. Abdullah failed to get a hundred yards for only the second time all season and went on to hold the Huskers off and win 38-17. The Huskers lost the last two home games and are working towards saving the season by defeating Georgia.

UGAGeorgia

Several injuries stung the Bulldogs this season and probably derailed any chance they could win it all fairly early in the season. Without playmakers, QB Aaron Murray had nobody to go to but Todd Gurley, and at one point in the early part of the season it looked as though Gurley would be a Heisman front runner. Then the injury bug bit him too which is what makes his numbers pail in comparison to where they would have been. Gurley shows an explosive side that the NFL will love and good speed when he needs it. He will be a handful for the Huskers.

Ramik Wilson had a great season roaming the LB position much like previous stars. He had the game of his career against the Auburn Tigers with 18 total tackles, 12 of them were solo and one sack. He was the reason the Tigers had to win the game on a prayer downfield late in the game that got tipped by two defenders and taken in for a TD by Auburn. Wilson will play on Sundays but it will remain to be seen if he can stay healthy unlike former UGA LBers.

There have been so many highs and lows during this Georgia Bulldog season but clearly the beginning of the season was probably the best. They started the season with a tough loss to the Buckeyes Orange Bowl opponent Clemson Tigers 38-35. The game was a great start to the season of college football and saw a back and forth affair that highlighted several players form both teams. In the end it was Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins who sealed the win.  The high came next week as they defeated South Carolina and kept their hopes alive for rebounding and staying in the mix for a title. Injuries obviously finished that dream as back to back losses to Mizzou and Vanderbilt put the dream out of reach.

Ohio State Versus

The Buckeyes have only played the Georgia Bulldogs one time and it was in the 1992 season Citrus Bowl  which was a great match-up of star running backs who went on to good NFL careers. Garrison Hearst was the star of the game and put the team on his shoulders for the tune of 163 yards. Robert Smith had a good day at the office for the Buckeyes but the difference maker was Eric Zeier who shred a good Buckeye pass defense and probably raised his already climbing draft stock at the time. The Buckeyes are still waiting for the opportunity to even the series at one and will have to wait. They cancelled a series with UGA in 2020-21 due to what was suppose to be the B1G/PAC12 challenge that fell apart because of conference expansion.

Nebraska football and Ohio State football should have a long and storied history of battles on the gridiron. As fate would have it, the B1G provided them with it finally only to play two seasons and then be separated for the time being due to silly Leaders/Legends scheduling issues, they return to the conference slate in 2016. The two have faced each other four times with the first coming in 1955 which the Buckeyes won 28-20. They returned the favor in 1956 and have split with the Huskers in 2011-12 blasting them 63-38 in the Shoe last season. 3-1 overall against the Huskers in the small all-time series is a good place to be in what could become a great rivalry. The fans love each other for sure.

Expert Picks

nebraska Nebraska -  Us (B1G Lovers!) Me and Jason

 

 

UGAGeorgia - Everyone Else (B1G Haters!) – Charles, Mali, Eric, Joe, Ken, Patrick, Scott

 

 

Prediction

Two things usually jump out to me when I am researching a match-up on paper. First, it’s all on paper which probably means nothing in the long run, and second, it’s why they play the game. The recent history of B1G versus SEC games hasn’t been completely bad for the B1G. And save fpr the top three SEC teams, the two conferences are pretty even across the board. A lot comes down to coaching and player development more than highly ranked recruits and both Mark Richt and Bo Pelini seem to do more with less. Richt has the upper hand with the rising hotbed of great recruits coming out of Georgia, he’s been keeping a lot of players home. Bo does as well but knows he has to go national and reaches into his home state of Ohio for a good haul of players.

Neither Nebraska or Georgia have a very good defense, ranked 34th/367YPG and 48th/381YPG respectively and have both gave up 16 passing TD’s on the season. Georgia yields to the Nebraska D having given up 24 rushing touchdowns to the Huskers 21. Offensively the Bulldogs have a top 20 group scoring 57 touchdowns and almost averaging 500 yards a game this season without key offensive play-makers.  Nebraska had opportunities, but without Taylor Martinez they struggled down the stretch with back-ups production and still went for 51 touchdowns and over 425 yards per game average.

The key to this game will be whether or not the balanced scoring attack of the Huskers can steal some lightning in a bottle with Ameer Abdullah and get him in space. Offensively the Bulldogs should have the upper-hand, but Nebraska has more to prove. The defense has looked decent at times this season and has had time to prepare for Gurley and company’s rushing attack. Losing Murray to a torn ACL will cost the Bulldogs their passing game and cause them to devote the day to running the football. I see the Huskers representing the B1G well in this one. Nebraska 31-27

This Cornhusker team misses Rex Burkhead.

3 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    December 30th, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Good preview, WVa. So, Mali shuffled this game off to you or did you willingly take it to help him out?

    Either way, you get Good Guy bonus points.

    [Reply]

    WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 31st, 2013 at 7:47 am

    wait . . , it wasnt mine originally? holy cow

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 31st, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Nope- it was allllllll you. :)

    My wife asked me not to write the article and jinx the Huskers.

    [Reply]

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