The Nebraska Cornhuskers failed yet again to win a conference championship in 2013 thanks in part to injuries across the offense and a defense that could not consistently make stops when it mattered. But the team still won eight games this season and will meet up with the Georgia Bulldogs for a second straight season in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl thanks in large part to their running game. Junior Ameer Abdullah was the driving force for that running game, making him an easy choice for the top offensive player for the Huskers in 2013.
Abdullah was a force out of the backfield for Nebraska all season long. He led the Big Ten with 1,568 yards rushing this season on 254 carries and found the endzone eight times. He rushed for 100 yards or more in 10 games this season, highlighted by his 225-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Illinois Fighting Illini. He is coming off his worst output of the season, however, when he rushed for just 85 yards against the Iowa Hawkeyes, managing a season-low 3.7 yards per carry in a 38-17 loss in the regular season finale.
But one bad day shouldn’t dampen what has been a spectacular season for Abdullah, especially considering the state of the Nebraska offense this season. Injuries along the offensive line and to quarterback Taylor Martinez made things exceedingly difficult as the season wore on but Abdullah could be counted on to produce at an average of 130.67 yards per game. He ran with purpose, earning tough yards between the tackles while showing off the game-breaking ability to bust off huge gains at any given moment.
Now, Abdullah has one final opportunity to lead the Nebraska offense against Georgia. While many of the underlying issues that hurt the Huskers throughout the season aren’t likely to be fixed during bowl prep, they have one player that they can rely on. Abdullah is the workhorse for Nebraska that they will ride in the Gator Bowl. Will he carry them to a win?