Georgia was a a couple of seconds, a few yards and five points away from jumping Alabama and playing Notre Dame in the BCS championship. Instead, the Bulldogs fell a bit short and had to settle for the Capital One Bowl against Big Ten representative Nebraska.
For about three quarters, it ranked among the most exciting bowl games on New Year’s Day. But thanks to the Bulldogs’ defense and a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, No. 6 Georgia was able to pull away from No. 23 Nebraska 45-31.
Aaron Murray shook off a pair of early interceptions to finish the day with 427 yards through the air and five touchdowns. The running back combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall accounted for 161 yards and a touchdown.
Georgia’s defense was gashed again for 239 yards on the ground — Rex Burkhead, making his final appearance for the Cornhuskers, rushed for 140 yards and a score — and another 204 passing from Taylor Martinez. However, the Bulldogs D forced Martinez into a pair of interceptions as part of a three-turnover day.
Defense for Georgia has been shaky at times this season — curious considering the talent on that side of the ball — and run defense was especially poor the past two games, but to Todd Grantham‘s credit, the Bulldogs surrendered just seven points in the second half of today’s bowl against the ‘Huskers.
With Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo all either headed to the NFL or likely so, Georgia’s defense will be an interesting unit to watch in 2013. Murray should return along with Gurley and Marshall, but will Georgia be too reliant upon the offense next year to win games?
Likewise, Nebraska needs to go back to the start with the defense. This is supposed to be Bo Pelini’s area of expertise, yet the ‘Huskers have given up 115 points in the past two games and allowed Ohio State to rack up another 63 earlier in the season.