Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. No. 22 Georgia Bulldogs (8-4 SU, 3-8-1 ATS)
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl Preview
Date and Time: Wednesday January 1st, 2014. 12:00PM Eastern
Where: EverBank Field Jacksonville, F.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Neb +9/UGA -9
Over/Under Total: 60.5
For the 2nd straight year, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and
Georgia Bulldogs will meet for postseason bragging rights.
Last year Georgia pulled away, behind the arm of quarterback Aaron Murray,
in the 4th quarter of the Capital One Bowl to beat Nebraska 45-31. This
New Year’s Day meeting will feature the 22nd ranked Georgia Bulldogs against
an 8-4 SU Nebraska Cornhuskers in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. The Cornhuskers
will get their shot at revenge and they will need to capitalize on that
opportunity to ensure the fate of head coach Bo Pelini.
Pelini has found himself in the coaching hot seat after a subpar season highlighted by questionable play calling and untimely off field tirades. If the Cornhuskers post another poor performance against the Bulldogs, it could spell the end of Pelini’s era in Lincoln. Currently Nebraska is listed as 9 point underdogs to Georgia despite the fact the Bulldogs will be without senior quarterback Aaron Murray. On the counter side, Nebraska has been without their star quarterback Taylor Martinez for the entire 2nd half of the season. Freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong will likely get the start on New Year’s Day. Armstrong filled in for Martinez to throw 7 picks and 7 touchdowns this season before missing the final two games with an ankle injury.
All signs point to Armstrong getting the nod over Ron Kellogg III. While Armstrong has not posted spectacular statistics this season, he has shown some valuable upside as the possible quarterback of the future at times as well. Still, running back Ameer Abdullah will be the focal point for the offense. Abdullah racked up 1,568 yards and 8 touchdowns this season to lead the Big Ten in rushing. More importantly the Bulldogs defense has struggled mightily to stop the run this season giving up at least 250 yards on the ground in 2 of their last 3 games. If Abdullah is able to have a big day and help Nebraska’s offense sustain long drives, the Cornhuskers could score the upset.
On the other side of the ball, Nebraska’s defense will also be tasked with stopping an extremely talented Georgia rushing attack highlighted by running back Todd Gurley. Gurley is arguably the best running back in college football but has been hampered with injuries this year which has caused him to miss significant playing time. Still, Gurley has amassed 6.3 yards per carry to rack up 903 yards and 10 touchdowns despite the limited touches. If Nebraska is going to contend for that upset, they must stop Gurley first and foremost when both teams meet in Jacksonville.
Also junior quarterback Hutson Mason will be filling the void of Aaron Murray behind center. Mason is much better than your average backup quarterback and he has thrown the ball very well in his few outings this season. Mason has completed 46 of his 71 passing attempts for 648 yards resulting in 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. If Georgia is able to run the ball well, I expect Mason to continue his impressive play. However it will be interesting to see how the inexperienced junior responds in pressure situations if Nebraska is able to get a good start or possibly shutdown the Georgia rushing attack.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Honestly I think Georgia is the better team in this game on both sides of the ball. I believe that the quarterback situation for Nebraska may leave the offense vulnerable given the extra time for Coach Richt to formulate a plan to stop the run. Additionally the Cornhuskers have not fared well in bowl games recently losing their last 3 straight by a minimum of two scores. Nebraska is also just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games as underdogs under Pelini. Not only do I believe those trends will continue but I believe the Bulldogs will win this game in a blowout to cause more unrest in Lincoln.
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