Having lost their respective conference title games, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Georgia Bulldogs and the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but their historic New Year’s Day meeting in the 2013 Capital One Bowl provides the perfect opportunity for both schools to finish the season on a high note and show the country what they’re truly made of.
Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray has had trouble sleeping since losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game. A victory then would’ve sent the Bulldogs (11-2) to the BCS National Championship Game, but time ran out on Georgia at Alabama's 5-yard-line, leaving Bulldog Nation crushed. They lost their shot at the title, but Georgia can cement only their third 12 win season ever, and a win should leave them in the season-ending top five. More importantly for the players, they get one more chance to end an incredible season with a win.
Up in the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers (10-3) claimed the Legends Division in just their second year in the conference, but met a brick wall in the form of the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game, falling 70-31. Like Georgia, Nebraska is a proud program unaccustomed to losing on the big stage, but luckily there’s one game left, and it’s huge. Nebraska can claim the school's first 11-win season since 2001, and maybe more importantly, they have the chance to avenge the blowout by defeating a fellow juggernaut in one of the most anticipated bowl games of the year.
The No. 7 Bulldogs and No. 16 Cornhuskers are set to mix things up in the "Little Bowl with the Big Heart" on January 1st in front of what’s sure to be a more than lively 70,000 cheering fans shaking the foundation of Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Surprisingly, the matchup will mark only the second time in history that these legendary programs have faced off against one another, with Nebraska taking home the sole victory between them way back in the 1969 Sun Bowl, which they won comfortably by a margin of 45-6.
Both schools, however, have dipped their feet into the waters of the Capital One Bowl previously, as the Bulldogs are making their sixth trip with wins over Purdue and Michigan State in 2003 and 2009, respectively. Nebraska is making their second consecutive showing, but this time around they’re looking for retribution, as they lost to South Carolina 30-13 last seaon. Luckily for Nebraska, things are a bit different this year, and by looking at their stats Georgia is in for one heck of a showdown.
Nebraska's rushing attack ranks a stellar eighth overall in the country in yards per game, putting up 254.5 per, and it’s all spearheaded by QB Taylor Martinez. The junior QB stands as Nebraska’s all-time leader in total offense, as he and running backs Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah have perfected the option to combine for 2,597 yards on the ground. The Huskers’ defense isn’t slacking either, as they lead the nation in passing yards allowed per game, averaging 148.2. That stat will certainly come in handy against a quarterback like Murray.
Murray, a fourth-year junior, sits at second place on the SEC’s all time career touchdown list (90), passing the iconic Peyton Manning in the defeat to Alabama. He’s put up monster numbers, tossing 31 touchdowns, and is making them count with only eight interceptions. Also, his 7.8 yards per passing attempt average is good for first in the country. But Georgia certainly isn’t one dimensional. Running back Todd Gurley is averaging 6.3 yards per carry, and the true freshman led the entire SEC by rushing for 1,260 yards and racking up 16 touchdowns in the process.
It’s all going down on Tuesday, January 1st, at 1:00 p.m. ET, so act quickly and purchase your 2013 Capital One Bowl tickets as soon as you can. This one is looking to be one of the most exciting bowl games on tap, and the vibrant atmosphere within Citrus Bowl Stadium is definitely an experience you’ll want to experience live.