After the Big Ten Championship dismantling of the Nebraska Cornhuskers at the hands of a 7-5 Wisconsin on December 1 in Indianapolis, no logical man could conclude that the #Huskers have any shot at beating a Georgia team that nearly won the SEC and earned a spot in the national title game.
That’s where I come into the picture.
Here are five reasons, logical or not, why Nebraska can begin their 2013 campaign the right way and beat the Georgia Bulldogs in the Capital One Bowl.
Georgia had the type of season that I predicted they would have. They shot out of the gate opening 5-0 then tripped up at South Carolina. But their loss was early enough in the season for them to play back into the picture.
They took care of business winning their last six, including a win over Florida, putting them in position to play their way into the BCS title game.
They gave Alabama hell and took an 11-point lead in the third quarter, which for an SEC defense should have been insurmountable. Yet the Tide rolled back and eventually took a 32-28 lead.
Still the Bulldogs had a shot and drove to the 8-yard line where Georgia QB Aaron Murray threw a short out (which he shouldn’t have thrown) to Chris Conley (who caught the ball out of instinct) and Georgia came five yards short.
Now tell me, after that build-up, emotional energy and the colossal let down, how excited is Georgia to play in the Capital One Bowl?
Just ask their opponent, Alabama. They faced the same exact situation when, ranked No. 1, they lost the 2008 SEC title game to Florida, was sent to the Sugar Bowl, and got off to an uninspired start against unbeaten Utah and never recovered.
This is a parallel situation and the question will be, does Georgia have it in them to get up for Nebraska?
Nebraska, on the other hand has everything to prove. They must prove that Wisconsin was a fluke. They must prove that they can stop a prolific rushing attack, which Georgia has. They must prove their defense is not the wet paper towel that showed up in Indianapolis.
Bo Pelini also has a personal mission. He’s treading a fine line right now. His equity with the fan base and the administration is on the decline, as is his stock in the coaching circles. If he wins this one he will re-attain his flexibility to either stay the course at Nebraska or prove he can be the man elsewhere.
Strength of Schedules
I don’t believe what Georgia did this year was impressive. They didn’t have to play LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State or Alabama during the regular season. Their only tough road game was South Carolina and they got rocked.
Look at their schedule and tell me Nebraska couldn’t have gone 10-2 or 11-1 with that schedule. Only four of Georgia’s regular-season opponents finished with a winning record and one of those was FCS school Georgia Southern.
Seven of Nebraska’s opponents had winning records with two others at 6-6.
Match-up of Jimmies and Joes
The parallels at the skill spots are astounding. In total yards the teams are separated by just 50 yards. Georgia has 5,958 yards (3,564 passing, 2,394 rushing), while Nebraska comes in at 6,008 (2,700 passing, 3,308 rushing).
The top two rushers on each team are separated by just 79 yards. Georgia has two beast backs, in freshmen in Todd Gurley (who is anything but) and Keith Marshall, who combined for nearly 2000 rushing yards and 24 TDs.
Huskers Sophomore Ameer Abdullah emerged as the next great back at Nebraska, rushing for over 1,000 yards and QB Taylor Martinez chipped in 973 rushing.
The Huskers also have a healthy Rex Burkhead, who would have been the best back in the Big Ten if not for the injury, not to mention the Imani Cross X-factor.
Quarterback production is just 76 yards difference and equal touchdowns. Murray has thrown for 3,564 yards and 31 touchdowns. Nebraska’s dual-threat Taylor Martinez has thrown for 2,667 yards, 21 TDs, and if you add in his rushing numbers, he’s accounted for as many TDs (31) and 3,640 total yards.
At receiver it’s even tighter. Georgia’s top wideout Tavarres King has 846 yards and eight touchdowns. Nebraska’s Kenny Bell has 803 yards and also eight TDs. Murray has found 15 receivers this year, 10 with TD catches. Nebraska is at 16 receivers, also 10 with TDs.
Overall the skill position advantage goes to Nebraska, slightly.
The line of scrimmage advantage, however goes to Georgia on both sides of the ball, which if they take advantage could mean disaster again for the Huskers.
Nebraska is very thin a defensive tackle with Baker Steinkuhler out. The Bulldogs, however are also missing a key player as senior nose guard John Jenkins apparently doesn’t take his academics seriously enough and will not play.
Follow along with me in this line of logic. The Johnny Manziel theory.
The reason I think Nebraska can beat Georgia is the same reason I thought Michigan could beat Alabama and the reason Texas A&M did beat Alabama. SEC defenses are supposedly world class, but they rarely see the type of spread or dual-threat attack that a guy like Denard Robinson (bad example), Johnny Manziel (overachiever), or Taylor Martinez (God willing) can bring to a game.
Georgia faced nothing like the offense Nebraska is going to bring to Orlando. Take Martinez, throw in Burkhead, Abdullah, Cross and Braylon Heard, no team has that kind of five-headed monster. Alabama had two smash-backs but there was no misdirection. It’s a wrinkle Georgia hasn’t seen.
Georgia doesn’t run their backs in the same backfield at the same time either. That’s what Nebraska struggles with … multiple run threats in the same backfield at the same time. This plays right into Pelini’s defensive scheme, or at least one he’s had success against.
The teams that have torched the Huskers recently (Ohio State, UCLA, Wisconsin in both 2011 and 2012, Michigan in 2011) all had quarterbacks that could run and a backfield that complimented that attack.
Georgia has a pro-style quarterback in Murray that runs like he’s in a ball pit at Check-E-Cheese, and while the Georgia rushing attack is punishing, it’s not dynamic. In a three-game stretch in the middle of the season, Georgia averaged just 105 rushing yards per game, and only managed 77 against Kentucky.
If Nebraska can match that feat, their secondary is good enough to take advantage of the inevitable Murray mistakes.
The final reason that Nebraska will win this game is because the #brashawcurse is bound to be broken. I have written features and successfully cursed the Huskers, Creighton and UNO Hockey all in one piece, Michigan football, and USC and Oklahoma by predicting they would play for the national championship.
Not to mention last year I wrote a feature on Kansas State and Iowa State, who immediately lost and several others I could notate. The most ridiculous prediction, however was 2002, where I wrote that Adam Vinatieri would get Scott Norwood style redemption and kick the Super Bowl winning field goal … then concluded, “It’ll never happen.I take St. Louis by 15.”
Nebraska has to break this curse, right? That’s only logical.
***Easter egg logic hunt, an @iThinkSports idea – Find the following: Appeal to probability, argument from ignorance, begging the question, red herring, circular reasoning, statistical conclusion fallacy, lucid fallacy, false attribution, gambler’s fallacy, kettle logic, cherry picking, misleading vividness, appeal to motive.