PHOTO: USA Today Sports
Georgia Bulldogs (8-4) vs Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4)
Wed, Jan 1st @ Noon (ESPN 2)
Line: Georgia by 9
How Georgia got here: Georgia started off the season playing three top ten teams in their first four games. After a close road loss to Clemson, they beat both South Carolina and LSU at home. Injuries took over and Georgia limped through the rest of their schedule winning five and losing three.
How Nebraska got here: Nebraska played two top 25 teams (UCLA and Michigan State) and lost to both of them. The Huskers started off 5-1 but like Georgia, faltered down the stretch as they split their final six games. They had good wins over Michigan and Penn State but they also fell to Minnesota and Iowa.
For Georgia to win: Even with Aaron Murray out, Georgia should be able to move the ball fairly well with Hutson Mason at QB. For Georgia it's about establishing Todd Gurley on the ground and getting Mason comfortable. In his only start of the year, Mason struggled early against Georgia Tech but was effective in the second half once he found his groove. The Georgia defense will be missing two players from their already weak secondary (Josh Harvey-Clemons and Sheldon Dawson) so the front seven will need to dominate the line of scrimmage and get after the Huskers QB.
For Nebraska to win: They need to contain Gurley and make Mason beat them with his arm. Georgia's offensive line is very up and down, so winning the line of scrimmage battle on defense will be big for the Huskers. When the Huskers have the ball, they need to focus on throwing short/intermediate passes. Georgia's defense is young, inexperienced and has a tough time stopping these.
Key Player (Georgia): Todd Gurley, RB. When Gurley been completely healthy, the Dawgs are have been almost unbeatable this year. The problem is, Gurley has been banged up this year missing three games and parts of others. In fact, he's only reached the 20 carry mark in three games this season. In his four games he played against Top 25 opponents, he averaged 6.73 ypc and found the end zone five times. Gurley is a dual threat and OC Mike Bobo has been using him more out of the backfield as a receiver since he's come back from injury. In the last three games he has 19 receptions and 3 receiving TDs.
Key Player (Nebraska): Ameer Abdullah, RB. Abdullah led the Big Ten with 1,568 rushing yards and finished second in ypg with 130.67. He has ran for 100 yards in every game but two (Had 98 against UCLA and 85 against Iowa). In last years bowl game against Georgia he had just 48 yards on 7 carries so you have to think he's going to want to redeem himself with a big game this year. Abdullah needs to get the Huskers going on the ground, so they can target Georgia's young and deleted secondary through the air.
Key Stat: Nebraska was one of the worst teams this season in terms of turnovers as they coughed it up 28 times (113th in FBS). Georgia was one of the worst teams in terms of taking the ball away from opponents as they had just 14 for the entire season (111th in FBS).