Capital One Bowl Primer: Georgia vs. Nebraska

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

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Georgia Bulldogs (11-2 Overall; 7-1 SEC)

For the second year in a row, Georgia finds itself coming off a loss in the SEC Championship Game as it prepares for its bowl game. No doubt the Bulldogs will want to avoid losing that bowl game for the second straight year as well. While the loss to Alabama in an epic game hurt and kept the Bulldogs out of the BCS Championship Game, 2012 was still a successful season for the Bulldogs. They finished with double-digit wins for the eighth time in Mark Richt's 12 seasons. However, the Bulldogs will be looking to snap a two-game bowl losing streak.

At Their Best. You could say that Georgia's best game of the season came in a loss. The Bulldogs finished five points and five yards shy of an SEC title against Alabama, but they played very well. Before that loss to Alabama, there was also the six-game win streak that saw Georgia outscore its opponents 208-67. The biggest win in that streak came against Florida in what was an ugly game -- so, so ugly -- but also decided the SEC East in Georgia's favor. And while it might have been ugly, nothing was ugly about the performance that Jarvis Jones gave in Jacksonville that day. Really, aside from one Saturday night in Columbia, S.C., and a close win over Kentucky, there weren't many times this season that Georgia wasn't at its best.

At Their Worst. That night in Columbia. Georgia traveled to South Carolina and got embarrassed by the Gamecocks in a 35-7 loss that saw the Bulldogs trailing 35-0 before Ken Malcome finally got them on the board with less than two minutes to go. Nothing was working for Georgia that night, with Aaron Murray in particular having a horrible night. Murray completed only 11 of his 31 passes for 109 yards and an interception. The only good news for Georgia was that the loss came early enough in the season that it was able to make pollsters forget about it.

Headliner. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o finished second in Heisman voting this year. But if you ask Georgia fans about it, they'll be quick to tell you Te'o wasn't even the best linebacker in the country. No, they'd say that was Jarvis Jones, and they might just be right. Jones was just about every superlative in the book this season. He finished with 77 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 19 quarterback hurries, an interception and 7 -- 7!! -- forced fumbles. He's an absolute joy to watch, and this could be his final game in college, as he's projected as a top-10 pick in the draft by both CBSSports.com's Rob Rang and Dane Brugler.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-3 Overall; 7-1 Big Ten)

The last we saw Nebraska, it was getting absolutely steamrolled by Wisconsin 70-31 in the Big Ten Championship Game. As terrible as that loss was, though, this is still a Nebraska team that had a good 2012 season. Aside from that defeat Nebraska's only other losses came against a UCLA team that played in the Pac-12 Championship Game and an Ohio State team that went 12-0. There's no doubt this Cornhuskers team will look to show people it's not the team that showed up in Indianapolis and try to end a two-game bowl losing streak of its own.

At Their Best. Although its offense looks a lot different than the triple-option attacks of yore under Tom Osborne, this is still a Nebraska team built on running the ball. There was no game in which Nebraska did that better than a 28-24 win against Michigan State in early November. The Cornhuskers, led by Taylor Martinez and Ameer Abdullah, rushed for 313 yards against the Michigan State defense that night in East Lansing. Yes, the ending of the game was controversial. But to put that rushing performance in perspective, consider this: The Michigan State defense allowed 1,282 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on the season. That means Nebraska accounted for nearly 25 percent of the yards and 33 percent of the touchdowns that the nation's ninth-ranked run defense allowed all season. That could be bad news for a Georgia run defense that finished 78th.

At Their Worst. The Big Ten Championship Game, obviously. After holding Wisconsin to 56 rushing yards and 1.4 yards per carry in the Big Ten opener, the Cornhuskers' defense allowed three touchdown runs of 56 yards or more to Wisconsin in Indianapolis. By the time the bloodbath was over, Wisconsin had rushed for 539 yards and put up 70 points on a Nebraska defense that had allowed 195 points in the entire Big Ten season before that night. That's 35 percent of the regular-season total.

Headliner. There have been many jokes at the expense of Taylor Martinez's throwing motion over the years, and deservedly so. But do you know who led the Big Ten in passer efficiency this season? That's right, Taylor Martinez. Still, if Nebraska is going to find success against Georgia, it will likely be Martinez's legs that have to do the most work, and they work just fine. Just look at this run in the Big Ten title game and this one against UCLA for proof.

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What: Capital One Bowl

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

Where: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.

Line: Georgia -9

Prediction: The fact that Georgia's run defense this season has not been good means this game should be quite a bit closer than most people might be expect, and it'll also be a game that features quite a few points. However, Georgia's pass rush will be able to harass Taylor Martinez when Nebraska tries to throw, and Aaron Murray is the better of the two quarterbacks. Because of this and partially because it's an SEC/Big Ten matchup, I have to go with the Bulldogs.

Georgia 38, Nebraska 27

 
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