College Football Gator Bowl Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs #22 Georgia Bulldogs
2014 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs #22 Georgia Bulldogs
EverBank Field – Jacksonville, Florida
Wednesday, January 1, 2014, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Georgia -9
Current Line: Georgia -9 (-105)
Opening Total: 60
Current Total: 60
Opening Money Line: Georgia -340 / Nebraska +280
Opening Money Line: Georgia -350 / Nebraska +290
The 8-4 Georgia Bulldogs take on the 8-4 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2014 Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl Wednesday in Jacksonville. While 8 wins would be a successful season for most schools, Georgia and Nebraska are not most schools. Both fan bases expected to be in a BCS game and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was almost fired. That is due more to his icy relationship with the media and Cornhusker fans. this is the third meeting between Georgia and Nebraska, with each winning a bowl game against the other. Nebraska won the 1969 Sun Bowl 45-6, and Georgia beat Nebraska in the 2013 Capital One Bowl 45-31.
Nebraska went 5-3 in the Big Ten Legends Division and tied with Iowa for second behind 8-0 Michigan State. Nebraska is playing in their 50th bowl game all-time with a 24-25 record. The Cornhuskers are making their 7th straight bowl appearance but have lost 3 straight. Nebraska is 12-7 all-time against SEC teams in bowl games. The Cornhuskers beat Clemson 26-21 in their only other appearance in the Gator Bowl in 2009.
Georgia went 5-3 in the SEC East Division and finished third behind 7-1 Missouri and 6-2 South Carolina. Georgia is 27-18-3 all-time in bowl games. The Bulldogs are playing in a bowl for the 17th straight season. Georgia has gone 12-4 in those games, but won last year against Nebraska to snap a two game losing streak. Georgia is 2-0 all-time in the Gator Bowl, but hasn’t played here since 1989.
Nebraska is coached by Bo Pelini. The Cornhuskers have home losses to UCLA 41-21, Michigan State 41-28, and Iowa 38-17 to close out the regular season, along with a road loss at Minnesota 34-23. All four losses were to bowl teams. Nebraska has home wins over Wyoming 37-34, Southern Miss 56-13, South Dakota State 59-20, Illinois 39-19, and Northwestern 27-24, along with road wins over Purdue 44-7, Michigan 17-13, and Penn State 23-20 in overtime. The Cornhuskers have lost two of their last three games. Nebraska is 6-6 ATS and the total is 6-6 as well this season. The Cornhuskers were 3 point favorites against Iowa and the total was 47.
The Cornhuskers are outscoring teams 33-25 this season. Nebraska is #43 nationally in scoring and #55 in points allowed out of 125 FBS teams. Nebraska is averaging 421.2 total yards per game including 199.5 passing and 221.7 rushing yards. The Cornhuskers are #19 in rushing, #95 passing, and #58 in total offense. On defense, Nebraska is allowing 367 total yards including 205.8 passing and 161.2 rushing yards. Nebraska is #35 in total defense and #22 against the pass. The Cornhuskers are -12 in turnovers with 28 giveaways. Nebraska is averaging 51 penalty yards per game and opponents average 39. The Cornhuskers are 79/188 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 57/185. Nebraska has forced 35 sacks and allowed 16 this season. The Cornhuskers are 42/48 scoring in the red zone with 32 touchdowns and opponents are 35/38 with 25 touchdowns. Nebraska has 4 pick sixes and a kick return for a touchdown this season.
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is doubtful with a hip injury, and has missed 8 of the last 9 games. Martinez has completed 62.7% for 667 yards with 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with 40 carries for 117 yards. Ron Kellogg III and Tommy Armstrong, Jr. have been splitting the snaps without Martinez in the line-up. Kellogg has completed 60.6% of his passes for 919 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Armstrong has completed 53% of his passes for 803 yards with 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 57 carries, 176 yards and 2 touchdowns. Armstrong is questionable with an ankle injury.
Running back Ameer Abdullah has 254 carries, 1,568 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 26 catches for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns. Imani Cross has 84 carries, 445 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 4 catches. Terrell Newby has 54 carries, 298 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 3 catches.
Receiver Quincy Enunwa has 47 catches, 624 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kenny Bell has 51 catches, 566 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus a kick return for a touchdown. Jordan Westerkamp has 20 catches for 283 yards and a touchdown. Sam Burtch has 12 catches for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jamal Turner has 13 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, but is questionable Wednesday for undisclosed reasons. Two little used receivers Richard Wynne, Jr. and Ishmail Jackson are both suspended for violating team rules. Six defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed as questionable or out.
Georgia is coached by Mark Richt. The Bulldogs have road losses at Clemson 38-35, Vanderbilt 31-27, and Auburn 43-38, along with a home loss to Missouri 41-26. Georgia has won 4 of their last 5 games, with the lone loss coming to Auburn on a late Hail Mary pass. The Bulldogs have home wins over South Carolina 41-30, North Texas 45-21, LSU 44-41, Appalachian State 45-6, and Kentucky 59-17, along with road wins against Tennessee 34-31 in overtime, and Georgia Tech 41-34 in double overtime to close out the regular season, plus a neutral site win in Jacksonville against Florida 23-20. The Bulldogs are 3-8-1 ATS and the total is 9-3 this season.
Georgia is outscoring teams 38-29 this season. The Bulldogs are #18 in scoring and #80 in points allowed nationally. Georgia is averaging 489.8 yards per game including 313.8 passing and 176.1 rushing yards. The Bulldogs are #17 in total offense and #16 in passing nationally. On defense, Georgia is allowing 381.2 total yards including 232.8 passing and 148.5 rushing yards. The Bulldogs are -6 in turnovers with 20 giveaways. Georgia averages 48 penalty yards per game and opponents average 48 as well. The Bulldogs are 73/164 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 87/202. Georgia has forced 32 sacks and allowed 18 this season. The Bulldogs are 59/67 scoring in the red zone with 45 touchdowns and opponents are 39/46 with 27 touchdowns. Georgia has one pick six and has allowed four defensive/special teams touchdowns.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray tore his ACL late in the year and is out for the season. He had completed 64.8% of his passes for 3,075 yards with 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, along with 53 carries for 187 yards and 7 touchdowns. Hutson Mason took over for Murray. Mason has completed 64.8% of his passes for 648 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown.
Running back Todd Gurley has 144 carries for 903 yards with 10 touchdowns, along with 30 catches for 344 yards and 5 touchdowns. J.J. Green has 62 carries for 365 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 97 yards. Brendan Douglas has 78 carries for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. Keith Marshall had 56 carries for 246 yards and a touchdown, plus 8 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. He is out for the season with a knee injury.
Receiver Chris Conley has 42 catches for 605 yards and 4 touchdowns. Michael Bennett has 39 catches for 483 yards and 4 touchdowns. Rantavious Wooten has 30 catches for 424 yards and 5 touchdowns. Arthur Lynch has 24 catches for 390 yards and 5 touchdowns. Justin Scott-Wesley has 16 catches for 311 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Reggie Davis and Rhett McGowan will also get some catches. Receivers Clay Johnson, Tramel Terry, and Malcolm Mitchell are listed as questionable or out. Five defensive backs are listed as questionable or out.
Nebraska is 4-1 ATS after failing to cover, 2-5 after scoring less than 20 points, 1-4-1 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, and 0-4 in neutral site games.
Georgia is 5-2 ATS in bowl games, after a cover, and after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, 13-6-1 after passing for 280 yards or more, 3-7 in non-conference games, 2-6-1 on grass, 2-7-1 overall, 1-4-1 after scoring more than 40 points, 1-5-1 after a straight up win, and against teams with winning records, and 1-7-1 after allowing more than 450 total yards.
Even without Murray, Georgia simply has too much to for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers lost by double digits to the four best teams they played. The best wins are over mediocre Michigan and Penn State teams. Georgia should roll in this game.