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Nebraska (10-3, 7-1 Big Ten) and Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) are both searching for its bowl since 2009. The Huskers were upstaged by South Carolina last year in Orlando and fell to Washington in the 2010 Holiday Bowl. The Bulldogs were on the short end of the Outback Bowl in 2011 and the Liberty Bowl in 2010.
Key matchup: Georgia thrived this season offensively behind Tampa, Fla. native Aaron Murray. He led the nation in yards per passing attempt (7.8), while throwing for 31 touchdowns. He will be opposite a Nebraska defense that allowed 148.2 yards per game passing this season, ranking No. 1 in the nation.
ABOUT NO. 21 NEBRASKA (10-3, 7-1 Big Ten, 6-6-1 ATS): Nebraska, one of only four teams in the nation to win nine games each of the last five years, makes its second straight trip to the Capital One Bowl after losing 30-13 to South Carolina last season. Junior guard Spencer Long is a key to the Big Ten’s best ground game - the 6-4, 305-pounder was named a second-team Walter Camp All-American. While Nebraska is vulnerable to the run, the Blackshirts' defense leads the nation in passing yards allowed (148.2). Nebraska’s all-time record against the SEC is 94-47-4.
ABOUT NO. 5 GEORGIA (11-2, 7-1 SEC, 7-6 ATS): The Bulldogs are making their sixth appearance in the Capital One Bowl, most recently beating Michigan State in 2009. Georgia is loaded with NFL talent, starting with outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who could be the first overall pick in April. Jones has 22.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception. He is one of several defensive playmakers, including linebacker Alec Ogletree (98 tackles in nine games) and safety Bacarri Rambo (16 career interceptions). Freshman running back Todd Gurley has run for 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns, one more than the old freshman record set by Herschel Walker. Murray has overcome the loss of two top receivers, with wide receiver Tavarres King (39 catches, 846 yards, eight touchdowns) emerging as the top outside threat
What to Watch: Georgia’s defensive front against Nebraska’s offensive line. The Cornhuskers have a pair of All-Big Ten offensive linemen in guard Spencer Long and tackle Jeremiah Sirles, but center Justin Jackson is out with an injured ankle. Their backup center, either Mark Pelini or Cole Pensick, will not have to go up against Georgia’s senior All-SEC nose guard, John Jenkins, who will miss the game after being declared academically ineligible last week. But they’ll hardly get much of a break in having to block 6-foot-6, 355-pound nose Kwame Geathers, who will replace Jenkins in the starting lineup.
Nonetheless, after getting shredded by Alabama’s powerful running game, Georgia’s defensive line will be subject to close observation against Nebraska’s talented runners.
What’s at stake: The Bulldogs came up just a few yards short of capturing the SEC crown and trip the BCS national championship game, when they fell to defending BCS champion Alabama, 32-28. They acknowledged this week that wound hasn’t fully healed, but want this bowl game to be the first step. The Cornhuskers are looking to erase the memories of their lopsided 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, which cost them a trip to the Rose Bowl. Nebraska had won six in a row before its championship game loss.
* Cornhuskers are 3-1-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Bulldogs are 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference games.
* Under is 5-0 in Cornhuskers last five bowl games.
* Under is 4-1 in Bulldogs last five bowl games.
Keep an eye on: The coaching battle. Both Georgia's Mark Richt and Nebraska's Bo Pelini have reputations for falling short in big games, and both have struggled in bowls as of late. Richt's Bulldogs lost the 2011 Outback Bowl and 2010 Liberty Bowl, while Pelini's Huskers dropped last year's Capital One Bowl and the 2010 Holiday Bowl. A win for either could generate some positive momentum heading into the offseason. Also, make sure to monitor both teams' rushing attacks. Todd Gurley was Georgia's headliner after finishing the regular season with 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns (he ran for 122 yards and two scores in the SEC title game), but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that fellow freshman Keith Marshall has recovered from nagging injuries and should see a heavy dose of playing time. Meanwhile, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead will look to wrap up his college career in style. Burkhead missed six games in 2012 with a sprained left knee injury, but he's one of the nation's premier backs when healthy. He rushed for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
Why Watch? The Capital One Bowl is traditionally one of the highest-profile non-BCS bowl games and this one fits the bill. No. 7 Georgia came within five yards of upsetting Alabama and playing for the BCS title. No. 16 Nebraska could have played in the Rose Bowl before laying an egg against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.
Surprisingly enough, though, these teams have only played once before despite their positions as two of the winningest programs in college football history. Nebraska’s 45-6 win over the Bulldogs in the 1969 Sun Bowl still ranks as the worst bowl loss in Georgia history.
Which team can better handle disappointment? Instead of the BCS Championship Game and the Rose Bowl, Georgia and Nebraska are headed to Orlando. The Bulldogs came up five yards short of beating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and playing for a national title. The Cornhuskers were demolished 70-31 by Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, giving up an astounding 539 rushing yards. This is only the second all-time meeting - Nebraska beat Georgia 45-6 in the 1969 Sun Bowl.