CFN Capital One Analysis - Georgia 45, Neb 31
CFN's thoughts and analysis on Georgia's win over the Huskers
By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb
Georgia tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall averaged more than five yards per carry on Tuesday against the beleaguered Nebraska run defense, yet combined for just one of the Bulldogs six touchdowns as the Dawgs passed right by the underdog Huskers, 45-31.
However, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead nearly outrushed both Gurley and Marshall by himself. Burkhead was the chief reason UGA found itself down at the half...that and quarterback Aaron Murray's two first quarter interceptions (one returned by Will Compton for a Nebraska pick six)..
But as the game clock ticked along, and Nebraska's defense wore down, its secondary began cheating up to help in run defense...which led to poor pass coverage and touchdown throws of 49, 24 and 87 yards for Murray and the Dawgs. Two that were caught by sophomore Chris Conley, who only had 16 receptions and two touchdowns coming into the game.
Absent that, this was a closer contest than the final 14 point differential might lead one to believe. Still, Georgia had the edge in nearly every facet, including coaching, and it showed as the tough minutes of the fourth quarter beat down on Nebraska.
As a result, UGA reached 12 wins for only the third time in school history.
Just a hunch, but Aaron Murray returns to Athens in 2013 looking to attempt to wrap up a little unfinished business, a la Matt Barkley this past season. Seems like the kind of kid who won't be satisfied until he wins an SEC championship with the Bulldogs.
Great comeback for Georgia, but the program couldn't be at all happy with the play of its defense, which looked gassed at time in the second half. No John Jenkins in the middle of the line certainly hurt, but the Bulldogs too often got beat at the point of attack, and were gashed for almost 250 yards on the ground.
It will not be a fun offseason in Lincoln for Huskers players. After allowing 115 points in back-to-back season-ending losses to Wisconsin and Georgia, Nebraska is going to get an incessant earful and not much latitude from Bo Pelini and the coaching staff.
When did Georgia signed Usain Bolt and slap a No. 31 jersey on him? Boy, Chris Conley might be raw as a complete wide receiver, but he sure has the jets to make the coaches want to cultivate his talent a little better during the offseason.
Everyone likes to talk about Taylor Martinez's evolution as a passer, but I just don't see it. Sure, the numbers are much better than a year ago, but that's not saying a whole lot. Watch the film; he's still a mess in the pocket, especially when he gets any amount of pressure.
After LSU lost to Clemson and Georgia and South Carolina struggled with Nebraska and Michigan, respectively, Notre Dame and its fans are more confident than ever heading into Monday night's game in Miami.
By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball
Georgia's come-from-behind victory in the Capital One Bowl raises an important question: how should the playoff selection committee deal with losses in the conference championship game? Does the committee really want to punish a solid Bulldog team for coming up just short against Alabama, or does it want to reward them for winning the SEC East?
The way that the Dawgs finished this game ought to silence those critics that say the Georgia seems to come up short in big games. UGA's defense dominated the final 22 minutes of the game, allowing just 60 yards during that span.
Have we seen the last of Aaron Murray in a Georgia Bulldog uniform? While it's possible that he'll return to Athens to take care of some unfinished business, he has nothing more the prove at the collegiate level after torching the nation's best pass defense for 428 yards and 5 TDs.
Even if Murray doesn't come back next season, don't bet against the Dawgs making a return visit to the SEC Championship game in 2012. As the emergence of Chris Conley and Justin Scott-Wesley showed today, there's no shortage of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
It's a shame that Rex Burkhead's career end with a loss. The heart and soul of the Husker offense, Burkhead had another monster game, leading the Huskers with 138 yards rushing and added another 39 yards receiving. Given that he's done a little bit of everything during his time in Lincoln, including playing QB occasionally, don't be surprised to see him end up on a NFL roster next season.
By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN
-Nebraska flat out laid an egg against the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game, and you didn't know if that team or the one that showed up for the first matchup against the Badgers would get on the plane to Florida. After the game, it's apparent that Nebraska is a better team than what we last saw in Indy. But geesh, defense anyone?
- On that note, the ‘Huskers' secondary has to work on its ball skills. Time and time again, the defensive backfield was in position to make a play on the football but couldn't get a hand on the ball. It was THE difference in the game.
- Keeping the theme, why can't a defensive coach like Bo Pelini get the Nebraska defense back to the level of the Blackshirts we all remember? Offense has been his teams' calling cards lately, but it'll be defense that'll likely but Cornhuskers back in the continent of elite on the college football map.
- Georgia was already thinking what might have been coming to Orlando after its narrow loss against the Tide in Atlanta, but now it has to really be wondering if a crystal ball would have been in its future after winning today.
- The clock is now ticking on Aaron Murray's future. Will he declare for the NFL draft or stay for his senior season. If he comes back, it'll be because he wants to win an SEC championship and maybe more. If he comes back, the Bulldogs could be harder to deal with than a fiscal cliff.
- After the LSU and Mississippi State loss, South Carolina--and now Georgia--are here to remind us that the SEC is still pretty good.
By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek
1) Nebraska can do better than Bo Pelini. A lot better. It's not as though Pelini deserves to be fired – that's far too harsh a recommendation. Programs go through periods when they don't quite reach the highest plateau or claim all available trophies. Moreover, winning a division championship – even in the 2012 version of the Big Ten – is nothing to sneeze at. Moreover, this year's very incomplete Nebraska team erased double-digit second-half deficits on three separate occasions, earning a great deal of respect. The Huskers competed well through the first 12 games of their season, and they should feel that they achieved something over the course of three months.
The fourth month – from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1 – is what the Big Red Nation can't be proud of.
Nebraska was bossed around the field by Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, and after putting up a good fight for three quarters against Georgia in the Citrus Bowl (corporate name known but not used…), the Huskers became small while the Bulldogs grew in stature. Whereas Michigan grew up in its bowl game and played South Carolina on even terms for four full quarters, Nebraska came up with a 75-percent non-solution versus the SEC East champions. A year earlier in this same bowl game, Nebraska absorbed plenty of punishment in the second half against South Carolina after starting brightly and taking the fight to the Gamecocks in the first half. In big-stage moments, Nebraska consistently falls short under Pelini. Again, these aren't fireable results, but they're results that leave a lot to be desired.
We'll see if the Huskers can take the proverbial "next step" in 2013. They need to in some form or fashion. If not, Pelini still shouldn't be fired… but 2014 would then become a hot-seat season for him in Lincoln.
2) Georgia could have sulked when trailing 31-23 early in the third quarter. The Bulldogs, being populated by 20-year-olds and not 35-year-old veterans of football combat, could have allowed their heartbreaking loss against Alabama in the SEC title game to hijack their level of performance. Instead, Mark Richt rallied his players and coaxed a strong finishing kick from them. Richt's decision to punt in the first half on fourth and one from plus-territory was mind-boggling in its timidity, and it gave Nebraska a great deal of momentum. However, Richt redeemed himself by getting his players to finish their season instead of mentally moving on to the 2013 NFL Draft.
Richt commanded and earned respect from his players. That, in many ways, is what won this game for Georgia.