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Gator Bowl Primer: Nebraska vs. Georgia

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Georgia will rely on running back Todd Gurley in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska, as senior quarterback Aaron Murray (knee) will not play. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.
Georgia will rely on running back Todd Gurley in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska, as senior quarterback Aaron Murray (knee) will not play. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

Gator Bowl Primer: Nebraska vs. Georgia

To say that these two teams had rocky seasons would be an understatement. However, the Gator Bowl does what it always does: Matches up two big-name programs. This year’s tilt is a rematch of last year’s Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31. Both teams are without their senior quarterback due to injury.

Both teams are coming off of disappointing years. Nebraska (8-4) started 5-1 before sputtering, warming up coach Bo Pelini’s seat considerably. Georgia was five yards away from the SEC championship last season and hoped to make up for it this year, but injuries and a tough schedule left Georgia (8-4) in the Gator Bowl.

Nebraska matches up well with Georgia, but doesn’t have the same amount of firepower the 'Dawgs employ.

Nebraska

Motivation: Nebraska might be motivated to hurt the SEC’s reputation, but it’s probably focused on helping its coach. The locker room still supports Pelini and a bowl win would buy him a longer leash next season. Nebraska also is playing for its senior class. This would've been the last game for quarterback Taylor Martinez, who seemed to gain Heisman traction for a week or two every year since he was a freshman, but he's hurt. Nebraska will look to stay consistent with another nine-win season and trip to Florida to cap off the careers of its 2008-09 class.

If You’ve Never Seen Them: If you haven’t watched Nebraska in the last century, you might be surprised to find out they run the ball. Their blend of power running, option, and play-action can explode for 250 rushing yards like it did against Purdue or squeak for 17 points like it did in a victory over Michigan. Ameer Abdullah is Nebraska's answer to Todd Gurley, producing 1,800 yards of total offense as a junior.

Weakness: An inconsistent offense really hurts the Cornhuskers. Nebraska has moved on from Martinez to freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., who has only thrown 117 college passes. Pelini himself has called his squad mentally weak. Plus, the Cornhuskers have only played, and lost to, two ranked teams. A weak schedule leaves this team untested against a sturdy SEC opponent.

Georgia

Motivation: Not much, really. It would be an emotional game to celebrate the career of Aaron Murray if he was playing. Because Georgia is returning many playmakers next year, and will get an SEC bump, the Gator Bowl shouldn’t have a huge impact on the Bulldogs' preseason ranking. This is an opportunity for new starter Hutson Mason to show off his skills for the coaches and fans, and earn some goodwill in the process, with Mr. Football of South Carolina, Jacob Park, breathing down his neck this spring.  

If You’ve Never Seen Them: Gurley can ball out. He is an impressive running back. He regularly breaks through arm tackles and disregards defenders in the red zone. Georgia also possesses a fierce, albeit inconsistent pass rush that can change games when the players hit their gaps.

Weakness: You can run on Georgia, which should bring joy to the Nebraska fan base. The young defense gave up too many yards and points. The loss of Murray shows up when Mason overthrows a 10-yard out route, but he's been competent in pocket. Georgia was in every game and apart from the Vanderbilt loss, only fell to teams with a chance to finish the season in the Top 10. They don’t have a lot of weaknesses.

Las Vegas Hilton Line: Georgia -9.