Many see this game as a blowout in the making while fans of the Huskers hold out hope for an upset over the SEC runner-up. The bowl features a committee of over 100 members to form perhaps the most unique democracy of selection processes, but I went to the head man in CEO Steve Hogan to get the skinny on this year’s match up.
“You have a variety of opinions, and some are very boisterous in their views. In the end, we all arrive at the decision best for our game. Typically, in any given year, I would say traditionally in our case, it’s the two most deserving teams.
We believe that Nebraska and Georgia were clearly the most deserving teams to be in Orlando.”
The motive for both teams in this tilt is clear: cap the season off with a solid win after heartbreak in their respective conference title games. Despite the Huskers’ 39-point loss, the Bulldogs are likely even more devastated with the chance of a national title shot going up in smoke. Regardless of Nebraska or Georgia’s fortunes, the Capital One Bowl CEO believes these teams’ resumes speak for themselves.
“Those teams were successful division champions and deserve to be [in Orlando].”
Losing left the both the Huskers and Bulldogs numb, but Hogan watched both title games and saw the losses as aberrations rather than anything that would ultimately affect the committee’s decision.
“Sometimes games will get away from you, but I don’t think that’s an indictment on the team. I think it’s more of an anomaly when you have a game like Nebraska had in the Big Ten Championship. We know they’re a good football team. Georgia clearly had a good game with Alabama. I think you’ve just got to take the championship games with a grain of salt.”
Fans of the Huskers have followed the Big Red across the country this season from Pasedena, CA to their league title game in Indianapolis, IN. Both trips expensive, both losses. Hogan certainly understands the monetary strain Nebraska fans feel, but thinks that the best reason Huskers should make the trip is for their team that has fought so hard this season.
“They’re going to play a very tough football team in the University of Georgia. I think they’re going to need the Big Red Machine behind them backing them. That’s why I would challenge them to follow their team and maintain the reputation they’ve earned for themselves, and rightfully so.”
When faced with the question of any potential apathy on Georgia fans’ part, Hogan sees the excitement in watching a team with so much talent and a chip on their shoulder as the cure for such feelings. “You’re talking about an 11-win, seventh-ranked team that has something to prove.”
With Bo Pelini and the Huskers looking to redeem themselves in a big way, a major upset on national television would be a proper salve for their wounds. Will Georgia back up their talk of not letting a hangover hit due to their most recent loss and time off? The Capital One Bowl may be hosting one of the biggest upsets of the entire bowl season. There’s only one way to find out.
Brandon Cavanaugh is a college football columnist for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter: @eightlaces