New Year’s Day bowl action kicks off at high noon (12:00 pm ET) with the Gator Bowl featuring the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4) of the Big 10 taking on the 22nd ranked Georgia Bulldogs (8-4) of the SEC from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL. Nebraska lost their regular season finale at home against Iowa by a score of 38-17, the Cornhuskers dropped 2 of their final 3 games including a 41-28 loss at home to Big 10 Champion Michigan State. Georgia won a shootout at their in-state rival Georgia Tech 41-34 to close out the regular season, and the Bulldogs won 4 of their final 5 games with the lone loss a 43-38 setback against BCS National Championship Game participant Auburn that was decided by an Auburn go-ahead touchdown in the final seconds of the game. Both teams will be led by backup quarterbacks and feature outstanding running backs with Ameer Abdullah for Nebraska and Todd Gurley for the Bulldogs.
Nebraska ranks 59th among FBS teams in total offense with 421.2 yards per game and 45th in scoring offense with 32.6 points per game. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. (803 yards passing, 7 TDs, 7 INTs; 176 yards rushing, 2 TDs) has taken over for the injured Taylor Martinez and will lead the Huskers against Georgia. He will rely on standout running back Ameer Abdullah, who ran for 1,568 yards with 8 TDs, to shoulder the load on offense. Receivers Quincy Enunwa (47 receptions, 624 yards) and Kenny Bell (51 receptions, 566 yards) are the top aerial targets for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers rank 36th nationally in total defense with 367 YPG allowed and 54th in scoring defense with 25.3 PPG allowed.
Georgia ranks 17th among FBS teams in total offense with 489.8 yards per game and 20th in scoring offense with 38.2 points per game. Quarterback Hutson Mason (648 yards passing, 4 TDs and 2 INTs) has taken over under center after All-American Aaron Murray was lost for the season with an ACL tear. Running back Todd Gurley is the focal point of the Bulldogs attack with 903 yards rushing and 10 TDs and 30 receptions for 344 yards and 5 TDs. Their leading receiver is Chris Conley with 42 receptions for 605 yards and 4 TDs. The Bulldogs rank 47th nationally in total defense with 381.3 YPG allowed and 81st in scoring defense with 29.4 PPG allowed.
Nebraska vs. Georgia Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Nebraska Cornhuskers +9
@ Georgia Bulldogs -9
Over 60 (-110)
Under 60 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Nebraska vs Georgia Pick
Georgia is a completely different team when Gurley is in the lineup, in the win over Georgia Tech the Bulldogs ran 4 total plays, 2 of which were Gurley touchdown runs. Two of their losses came when he sat out with an ankle injury. The Bulldogs have been able to weather the loss of Murray because of his play; he rushed for 81 of his 125 yards and scored a touchdown in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 45-31 win against Nebraska in last season’s Capital One Bowl. He should be a huge factor again, and he can exploit a Nebraska run defense that allowed 161.2 YPG on the ground. The Bulldogs have been stronger against the run, allowing 148.8 YPG, and that will be a key in this game. Georgia is faster than Nebraska, and has seen the Huskers before; this game should be another Bulldog victory. Take Georgia here.