Thanks to losses by Michigan and Minnesota, the Big Ten began the 2013-14 bowl season at 0-2. If you are so inclined to count Maryland and Rutgers, which will become members of the conference in July of next year, that mark would tumble to 0-4.
Thanks to Nebraska, that losing skid has come to an end.
In large part due to a big, relatively speaking, second half that included a huge defensive gaffe on the part of Georgia, the Cornhuskers were able to hang on for a 24-19 over the Bulldogs in the 68th edition of the Gator Bowl. For a sizable chunk of the game, the offenses matched the playing conditions: sloppy, uneven and unsteady.
Both the Cornhuskers (Taylor Martinez) and the Bulldogs (Aaron Murray) were without their injured long-time starting quarterbacks and it showed as the two teams combined for just over 530 yards of offense through three quarters. UGA would finish with 427 yards while the ‘Huskers netted a meager 307.
Nearly 100 of those yards for NU, though, proved to be a dagger for the Dawgs.
Facing a third and 14 from inside their own one-yard line late in the third quarter, Tommy Armstrong Jr. surprisingly dropped back to pass. 99 yards, and a blown coverage and missed tackle later, Quincy Enunwa‘s lengthy catch-and-run for the score pushed Nebraska’s lead to 24-12.
The 99-yard play was the longest in the history of both the Gator Bowl and the NU football program.
The Bulldogs, however, didn’t quit. After a touchdown very early in the fourth quarter pulled UGA to within 24-19, the Bulldogs twice drove the ball into the red zone only to turn it over on downs. The last-gasp comeback came to an official end as tight end Arthur Lynch dropped a sure first down — and potential touchdown — on a fourth and three with 31 seconds remaining.
The Nebraska win could prove to be the lone one on New Year’s Day in the three-game, unofficial Big Ten-SEC challenge as South Carolina is beating Wisconsin 27-17 and LSU is doing the same to Iowa by the count of 14-7 at the time of this posting.