The Capital One Bowl will feature the Georgia Bulldogs and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Both teams went 7-1 in their conference but had out of conference losses and big conference championship losses that cast a gloom over their season. Georgia is ranked #7 going into this game and Nebraska is ranked #16. There are a number of bowls this year matching a high ranking team up against a mid-ranked team. This game, as with most of the others, is a question of whether the lower ranked team has had a schedule and the productivity that would prepare them for the challenge they face now.
Nebraska played UCLA (#13) and lost 36-30 in Week 2; then beat Northwestern (#20) 29-28 mid-season. They also beat Wisconsin 30-27 early in the season but then lost 70-31 in the Big Ten Championship. Georgia has lost to South Carolina (#10) 35-7; they beat (#3) Florida 17-9; and lost to Alabama (#2) 32-28 in the SEC Championship. The SEC was generally the most competitive conference this year (and add in Georgia’s extremely close SEC Championship game against Alabama) so it is fair to say that Georgia has had a more difficult schedule and thus are probably the better team.
Each team has scored a per game points average that is very similar. Georgia has averaged 37.2 points and Nebraska has averaged 35.1 points. Nebraska’s defense is significantly less stingy with points; they allow an average of 26.2 points per game. Georgia allows an average of 18.8 points. The odds suggest a score of 35-26. It is interesting that each team’s offense averages about 460 yards per game. Nebraska is the strong running game while Georgia is passing offense. Nebraska’s offense production between passing and running is actually very similar to Alabama’s production. Other than Alabama, Georgia has not played a team with a running game like Nebraska’s. Florida and South Carolina heavily favor the pass.
Georgia senior DT John Jenkins is one of the best defensive linemen in the SEC but it has recently been announced that he is ineligible for this game because of academic reasons. Add that to the fact that Georgia has only faced one team with a running game like Nebraska and there is reason to think that the Georgia defense could be more vulnerable than expected. Furthermore, Nebraska’s defense leads the nation in preventing passing yards, maintaining that level of play will be critical to restraining Georgia’s QB Aaron Murray who recently surpassed Payton Manning for 2nd on the SEC all-time passing list.
Probably Nebraska has just a small chance to win this game as they clearly are not on par with Alabama. However if they are able to exploit the strength of their run game and slow Georgia’s pass game they could keep Georgia from covering the spread. Even if the spread is not covered the score probably will go over 61 points as this is shaping up to be a test of offensive capabilities.
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