The 2013 Capital One Bowl’s Tale of the Tape
For the Huskers, the game presents an opportunity to show that their Big Ten Championship Game performance was a fluke by knocking off a team so close to playing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
For the Bulldogs, it’s a chance to not only underscore that they could hang with the Irish in the BCS National Championship Game, but up the draft stock of several players in the process.
For Nebraska to Win: As unlikely as this may seem following the 70-31 drubbing the Huskers were handed by the Wisconsin Badgers, a win’s actually possible. However, it’s going to take a near flawless effort on the offensive side and an amazing 180-degree flip in execution when it comes to an area Nebraska has struggled with all season long: turnovers.
Ranked No. 108 in turnover margin, you could roughly predict how many turnovers the Huskers could afford to give up and still win following their blowout loss to Ohio State earlier in the year. They ended that game three turnovers in the hole.
How many can they afford against Georgia? None. In fact, they would do well to bait Aaron Murray into some poor throws or gamble on a few blitzes in an attempt to force interceptions.
For Georgia to Win: Wisconsin should’ve given the Bulldogs an ideal gameplan to beat Nebraska. Georgia has two quality running backs just like the Badgers along with a better quarterback and superior wide receivers. Spread the Huskers out defensively and call a 2-to-1 run to pass ratio to keep the Blackshirts honest. On defense, blitz all day long.
Key Player, Nebraska: Rex Burkhead, RB – It’s Superman’s last game as a Husker and while Taylor Martinez will be directing the offense, there’s one thing Burkhead rarely does: turn the ball over. Martinez has found himself throwing pick-sixes and making poor decisions in big games.
While Martinez doesn’t need to be phased out (and can’t be for the Huskers to win), grinding the clock down with Burkhead, a guy that can run, catch and pass, is the way to go.
Key Player, Georgia: Jarvis Jones, LB – Who can force the most turnovers by Nebraska for the Bulldogs? An All-American linebacker sounds about right. While the Bulldogs have talent across the board, Jones is the crown jewel of their defense.
He can, and will, get sacks. He may even get an interception. Expect nothing less from a player who could be the first taken at his position in the next NFL draft. Nebraska’s goal should be to stop Jones, but a more realistic one would be preventing him from causing more havoc than he can.
Key Stat: 16.2 yards per pass - Also known as the average given up by Georgia’s defense in a 35-7 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Huskers need big plays and to own the time of posession battle, but they absolutely have to do damage through the air occasionally. Fortunately, they have a guy who can help with that.
Remember the block put on Wisconsin’s Devin Smith in the Big Ten Championship Game? That was courtesy of Nebraska’s leading wide receiver, Kenny Bell.
A familiar memo to Martinez: if you don’t know, throw to The ‘Fro.
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