Gator Bowl Rematch is No Grudge Match

By josephsmith
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Just one year ago, the sea of red followed their Nebraska Cornhuskers south to Florida to meet the Georgia Bulldogs and their faithful fans in Orlando for the Capital One Bowl. Since both teams are familiar with the route, why not do it again? It made enough sense for the organizers of the 2014 Gator Bowl, who selected the Cornhuskers to represent the Big Ten and the Bulldogs to represent the SEC.

Gator Bowl organizers may now be crossing their fingers and praying for a better turnout than the organizers of the Capital One Bowl had last year, when there were only 54,000 fans in attendance for the game played in Jacksonville. Comparatively, the Gator Bowl hosted just over 48,000 fans last year, but the teams participating in the contest last season were programs that may lack the national attention that teams like Nebraska and Georgia demand.

The 2012 Gator Bowl was played between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Mississippi State Bulldogs with coach Pat Fitzgerald’s team getting the best of Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs by a margin of 34-20.

One problem that Gator Bowl officials may be slowly realizing is that the teams they selected to compete in their Bowl Game are not overly excited about the rematch, and fans are not nearly as excited as they may have been for some of the other matchups they could have seen their teams participating in. This lack of a grudge factor in the rematch may leave Gator Bowl organizers with an excess of empty seats in EverBank Stadium.

Georgia fans may have preferred to participate in this season’s Chick-fil-A Bowl. Yes, it is a bowl that is played on December 31st and lacks a bit of prestige that comes with a New Year’s Day Bowl as a result. This Year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl will feature the Duke Blue Devils and the Texas A&M Aggies. Had the Bulldogs received the bid to play in this bowl, they would have had the luxury of playing in their home state. The game is held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Also, it would have given the Bulldogs an opportunity to flex their SEC muscle against the ACC runner-up team. Instead, it will be coach Kevin Sumlin and quarterback Johnny Manziel who will receive the honor of leading their Aggies on the field to represent the SEC against the Blue Devils.

The Cornhuskers undoubtedly want to escape the cold winter weather of Lincoln for something warmer in the southern portion of the United States. The Huskers will enjoy Florida and appreciate the Gator Bowl, bid but Tempe and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl may have been a better fit, at least in the eye of some Huskers fans. Huskers fans are very familiar with Tempe because of their time in the Big 12

Also, a trip to Tempe would have pitted the Huskers against an old foe in the Kansas State Wildcats and their legendary coach Bill Snyder.

Unfortunately, the Gator Bowl now has two teams that are just bored with each one another after going head-to-head last year. Gator Bowl officials also have two teams preparing to play without their star quarterbacks.  This game may be lacking in hype, but fans should not be deterred from watching this football game, especially if they like to watch good running games. Both teams feature talented backfields and should move the ball exceptionally well.

In a shocker, the Huskers should avenge their loss from a season ago and the real surprise for fans of both schools is how far the Huskers defense has come from a year ago. The Nebraska Blackshirts should make the difference in this game, winning the final contest of the season for their coach Bo Pelini.

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