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The Gator Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Pick-Odds-Prediction 1/1/14

Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4) at Georgia Bulldogs (8-4)

College Football: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm (EverBank Field)

The Line: Georgia Bulldogs -9.5 -- Over/Under: 61.5 See the Latest Odds


Storyline: The 22nd-ranked Georgia Bulldogs collide with the Nebraska Cornhuskers Wednesday in the Gator Bowl with both sides looking to reverse their fortunes after falling short of lofty preseason expectations.

The Breakdown: Georgia entered 2013 with a #5 preseason ranking, but couldn’t quite live up to the billing, dropping its season opener 38-35 to then #8 Clemson. The Bulldogs rebounded to rattle off the next four, including strong showings against South Carolina and LSU, but then dropped two straight before sandwiching a heartbreaking loss to Auburn with four wins, highlighted by a 41-34 double overtime victory over Georgia Tech in the season finale.

The Gator Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Pick-Odds-Prediction 1/1/14

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia fields the country’s 18th-ranked total offense (489.8 YDs), its 17th-ranked passing offense (313.8 YDs), its 57th-ranked rushing offense (176.1 YDs) and its 20th-ranked scoring offense (38.2 points per). They’ll take the field in Jacksonville without star QB Aaron Murray, the SEC’s all-time leader in passing yards with 13, 166. Murray has been sidelined since tearing his ACL against Kentucky Nov. 23. Junior Hutson Mason (648 YDS, 4 TDs, 2 INTs) filled in nicely the following week in a thriller against Georgia Tech, completing 22-of-36 for 299 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’ll be joined in the backfield by sophomore RB Todd Gurley, who bounced back from an injury-riddled season to rush for 903 yards and 10 touchdowns. Junior WR Chris Conley (42 REC, 605 YDs, 4 TDs) is the Dawgs’ top target. On the defensive side, the Bulldogs own the nation’s 80th-ranked scoring defense, allowing 29.4 points per outing and junior LB Ramik Wilson (119 tackles, 4 Sacks) is one of this unit’s standout.

Nebraska, meanwhile, also came up short of its preseason hype. After entering the campaign with an 18th ranking, a narrow escape against Wyoming and subsequent loss to UCLA sent the Cornhuskers plummeting from the top 25 by week four. Nebraska would bounce back to win its next three, including victories over Illinois and Purdue, before finishing the regular season with an even three wins and three losses, but just one victory in its final three games.

The Cornhuskers own the nation’s 60th-ranked total offense (421.2 YDs), its 96th-ranked passing offense (199.5), its 19th-ranked rushing offense (221.7 YDs) and its 45th-ranked scoring offense (32.6 points). Nebraska will also take the field without star QB Taylor Martinez. The senior hasn’t returned since injuring his foot in week 3 against Minnesota, effectively ending his collegiate career. Freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. stepped in and produced lukewarm results, completing 53 percent of his passes for 803 yards, 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 7 games before injuring his ankle at the end of the season, but he’s been named the starter for this one. He’ll be joined in the backfield by junior RB Akmeer Abdullah, the nation’s 10th-leading rusher with 1,568 yards and 8 touchdowns. Defensively, the Cornhuskers rank 55th in the FBS in points allowed at 25.3 per outing and junior DE Randy Gregory (59 Tackles, 9.5 sacks) is one of this unit’s standouts.

Rick’s Pick: The line in this matchup is currently set at -9.5 for Georgia with a 61.5 point total. This looks like more of a tossup, considering the two quarterbacks—Frazier who’s struggling and Mason who’s largely unproven. That puts the bulk of the pressure on the running backs and both sides have god ones in Gurley and Abdullah. All things considered, the under looks like the play.

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