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Georgia was one play away from playing for a BCS Championship against Notre Dame. Instead, the Bulldogs will now take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl. Nebraska was absolutely manhandled by Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Capital One Bowl organizers can’t be too disappointed with getting a matchup of two teams in the Top 16. In addition, both schools have a terrific fan base that travels very well. This should be a well-attended game. Both of these teams have quarterbacks who have taken quite a bit of heat in their time at the school, but both quarterbacks have come through with terrific seasons this year. Aaron Murray has been downed by Bulldogs fans in the past for his poor play in big games, but he played extremely well down the stretch this year. Taylor Martinez’s passing numbers improved drastically in 2012, and that made Nebraska much better on offense. Both of these guys will have the spotlight on them as they lead their teams into battle on New Year’s Day.
Which team will want to be here more? It’s no secret that teams who don’t really want to be at a particular game don’t fare well, while others who are fired up about that opportunity tend to do very well. It’s tough to say which team will be more motivated in this one. Nebraska obviously wanted to be playing in the Rose Bowl, but they fell well short of that when they got waxed by Wisconsin. They’ll be playing in the Capital One Bowl for the second straight year. Georgia was less than five yards away from playing in the BCS title game, and now they have to put their arms around being in the Capital One Bowl for the third time in the past 10 years. The most difficult part for Georgia is that they aren’t even in a BCS bowl. How do the players feel about that? A reporter recently asked Murray how the Bulldogs are feeling. He said they are feeling “Maybe a little bit robbed.” I’d say that is an understatement, and it is hard to blame them. Georgia went toe-to-toe with the team nearly everyone says is the best in the nation (Alabama) and was voted down from third to seventh in the polls. Because of the wacky BCS system, Northern Illinois and Louisville will be playing in a BCS game instead of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Before the season, Mark Richt was on the hot seat, but the team’s impressive performance this year has quieted critics quite a bit. What was the real reason for Georgia’s improvement throughout the season? The Bulldogs defense started out the season looking like a big disappointment, but by the end of the year they looked like one of the best units in the country. The secondary shut down opponent after opponent, but the front seven was vulnerable at times against power running attacks. On the other side, Bo Pelini isn’t a very popular guy with Nebraska fans. It isn’t that Pelini has done terribly with the program, but it seems like the Cornhuskers don’t fare well in the biggest games. Nebraska was blasted by Ohio State this year, and then the beat down at the hands of an 8-5 Wisconsin team was just ridiculous. Despite winning 10 games already this season, it’s hard to point to any of Nebraska wins as particularly impressive. Remember, the Big Ten Conference was horribly weak this season. Nebraska was dominated last year by South Carolina in this game. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are amazing freshman tailbacks for Georgia. The Bulldogs have been running the ball well against everyone of late. Nebraska averages 255 yards per game on the ground, which is good enough for eighth in the nation. Both of these teams have a big strong offensive line, and they can both pound the football.
While it will likely be the quarterbacks that get the most attention in this one, I really think the key to this game will be the two running games. Both defenses have struggled against the run, and I think that will continue in this game. Look for both teams to get the running game going early and often in this matchup. Nebraska hasn’t beaten anyone good this year, and I don’t think they’ll win this game, either. The Cornhuskers have a good record because the Big Ten as a whole is down in a big way right now. Georgia could end this game by halftime if they are properly motivated. I have Georgia winning this game by more than a touchdown so there is no way I would think of taking Nebraska at this time and I do think Georgia covers the number here, but my favorite play may just come down on the total since Im leaning towards the over. No decision yet but will address it closer to gametime. So the line has moved its way down and really doesnt make the pick any easier. I will stick with Georgia but it will be a really small play and stick with the Over as I have been saying for weeks. Again, if you are reading any of these posts the sides are worth much more than the total regardless of how many smilies.