Last year at this time Georgia was coming off a very disappointing loss in the SEC Championship to Alabama and soon getting ready to play Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. This year there was no SEC Championship for the Dawgs, but there is a rematch with the Huskers.
It’s another trip to Florida for Georgia and it’s a familiar one at that. It’s the Gator Bowl and both teams will take EverBank Stadium’s field on New Year’s Day. The last time Georgia went to the Gator Bowl was back in 1989, when Vince Dooley coached his final game and the Dawgs beat Michigan State 34-27. Even though it’s a return trip this season to Jacksonville for Georgia fans and a rematch with last year’s bowl team. Georgia Head coach Mark Richt is excited about playing in this bowl game.
“I know that Georgia people love Jacksonville,” Richt said. “We’ve been playing in Jacksonville for about 80 years, so everybody I think really enjoys that.”
This year’s matchup has a pair of defense’s that are pretty much on the polar opposite ends of the spectrum, especially in terms of passing defense. Nebraska enters this game as the 21st best defense against the pass this season, while Georgia is 65th in the nation. However, in terms of rushing defense the Dawgs are 41st to the Huskers 57th ranked rushing defense. These are the numbers, yet Mark Richt hasn’t looked at any film on Nebraska as of Sunday when he addressed the media on a conference call.
“We know we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Richt said. “I’m sure graduate assistants are breaking down film as we speak. So, we’ll get prepared as we can to do battle and I know Nebraska will do the same.”
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason is making his second start of his career in this bowl game. So, now he’ll have to face one of the best pass defense’s in the country. He’ll have to contend with the Huskers best pass defender in cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste. This season, the senior cornerback had four interceptions and 11 passes broken up. The Nebraska passing defense did play pretty strong against the pass this season. However, they did give up 1.25 touchdowns per game this season. Wide receiver Chris Conley will probably be the one on the opposite side of Jean-Baptiste for most of the game.
Head coach Mark Richt is looking forward to playing Nebraska again this season. Plus, it means a lot to Richt to play the Huskers, for he was born in Omaha and grew up a Nebraska fan. He’s looking forward to the rematch.
“We’re looking forward to playing Nebraska,” Richt said. “They’re obviously a very good team and we think we’re pretty good too. It was a great battle last year and we’ll see what happens this year.”
So here’s how I think the game goes on January 1st… Georgia will be able to run the ball with relative ease and be able to throw for a touchdown or two when they get into the red zone. Sure the Dawgs defense will probably give up some yards and points. However an even healthier Todd Gurley and a month of preparation for Hutson Mason will mean a ninth win of the season for Georgia. I’m picking Georgia 38-24 in this one.