Nebraska-Georgia Preview

While Georgia and Nebraska are set to meet in a bowl game for

the second consecutive year, this season’s showdown will be quite

different than last.

Aaron Murray and Taylor Martinez will both likely be watching

from the sidelines as the No. 23 Bulldogs face the Cornhuskers in

the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Murray matched career bests with 427 yards and five touchdowns

as Georgia beat Nebraska 45-31 in last year’s Capital One Bowl. The

SEC’s all-time passing leader with 13,166 yards, though, won’t be

available after tearing the ACL in his left knee Nov. 23 against

Kentucky.

Set to fill in again is junior Hutson Mason, who threw for 299

yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a thrilling 41-34

double-overtime win at Georgia Tech on Nov. 30 in his first career

start.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Nebraska is a very good

team. It’s going to be a challenge,” Mason said. “They’re a team

that’s a lot like us. They’ve been hit by the injury bug, they’re

8-4, we’re 8-4. And if you look at their games, one thing I’ve

noticed is that they were one drive, one play from being 9-3, being

in a bigger bowl, or playing in a conference championship just like

us.”

The Huskers, meanwhile, are all but certain to be without

Martinez in their 50th bowl appearance. The senior was limited to

four games this season due to a rash of injuries, throwing for 667

yards and 10 touchdowns.

“He will be out for the game – I should say not 100 percent, but

it looks like he will be out for the game,” coach Bo Pelini told

the school’s official website. “I think it is hard, this whole

season has been hard on him and obviously it is not ideal, and not

the way you want to see him go out. I feel for him, it has been a

difficult deal, but he is not 100 percent yet.”

It’s looking like Tommy Armstrong Jr. will be good to go after

missing the regular-season finale with an ankle injury. Ron Kellogg

III struggled in his place, completing 19 of 37 passes for 199

yards with a touchdown and two picks in a 38-17 loss to Iowa on

Nov. 29.

“Armstrong and Kellogg have both had their moments of playing

extremely well, and one thing I see in them is a confidence that

you got to have,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.

Whoever is under center will try to help the Huskers snap a

three-game bowl losing streak. Doing so could prove difficult

against the Bulldogs, who scored 183 points over their final four

games.

“We have some familiarity with Georgia having played them last

year in the bowl game, but these are two different football teams,”

said Pelini, whose team finished third in the Big Ten Legends

Division.

The Huskers figure to lean heavily on junior running back Ameer

Abdullah, who is seventh in the FBS with 130.7 rushing yards per

game. The third-team All-American went over 100 yards in all but

two games.

The Bulldogs will be looking for a big performance from Todd

Gurley, who is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 138.6 total yards

per game. The sophomore standout scored 15 touchdowns in nine

games, giving him a whopping 32 from scrimmage since the start of

last season.

“I think he’s one of the best backs in America,” Richt said. “I

don’t think there’s any doubt about that. I think most people that

have seen him play would say that as well, and I’m going to leave

it at.”

Gurley carried the ball 23 times for 125 yards and a score in

last year’s bowl game. He has to like his chances of finding the

end zone again versus a Huskers defense that’s allowed 21 TDs on

the ground, including eight over the past three games.

Nebraska has dropped three straight and six of seven against

ranked opponents, including last season’s showdown against

Georgia.

“It was a great battle last year. We’ll see what happens this

year,” Richt said. “We’re preparing for a very tight battle.”

The Bulldogs, set to make their 49th bowl appearance, are 2-0-1

in three previous trips to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl.

“That last game, no matter how your season is, can either leave

a sour taste in your mouth or build momentum going into the

offseason,” Mason said. “So I know just from my standpoint that I

want to keep that momentum rolling.”

Georgia will face the Huskers without strong safety Josh

Harvey-Clemons and backup cornerback Sheldon Dawson, both of whom

were suspended for undisclosed violations of team rules.

Harvey-Clemons, who was also suspended for the Bulldogs’ opener

against Clemson, has 66 tackles with an interception and a

team-leading three fumble recoveries.

Nebraska will also be without a defensive contributor. The team

announced Friday that defensive end Avery Moss returned to his home

in Arizona to attend to a personal issue and won’t play against

Georgia.