Game Day: Nebraska vs. Georgia

A chance to build

Husker players would like to see the 2014 Gator Bowl be a bridge to something else: the 2014 season. A win Wednesday would serve as a connector to a campaign in which most of the defense and key parts of the offense are slated to return. "It's huge to start off 2014 with a win," said junior I-back Ameer Abdullah.

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2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Georgia rush defense

Nebraska hopes to get back to near full speed after the rash of injuries on its offensive line. The Huskers were limited to 89 yards against Iowa and averaged just 141.8 per game and 3.7 per carry in their last four games overall. Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson was the SEC tackles leader as the Bulldogs held five of eight conference opponents under 145 rushing yards. Edge: Nebraska

Nebraska pass offense vs. Georgia pass defense

The Huskers need to take better care of the football after throwing 11 interceptions in their last seven games, including two game-changers against Iowa. But NU veteran receivers Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa will get some opportunities against an inexperienced Georgia secondary susceptible to the big play. The danger for Tommy Armstrong and/or Ron Kellogg is the pressure the Bulldogs bring (32 sacks, 105 hurries). Edge: Georgia

Georgia rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

It's no stretch to say Georgia tailback Todd Gurley starts the 2014 season in the Heisman Trophy conversation, and television on New Year's Day isn't a bad place to launch your campaign. The sophomore is healthy again and running behind a veteran line, and Nebraska has had its issues with getting backs to the ground. Edge: Georgia

Georgia pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Georgia isn't going to be quite the same without record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray, but junior Hutson Mason still has the weapons at his disposal that help the Bulldogs rank No. 16 nationally in passing offense and No. 11 in passing efficiency. Nebraska will have to find a way to generate some rush against an offense that allowed just 18 sacks despite throwing 420 passes. Edge: Georgia

Special teams

Georgia lacks punch in the return game, ranking last in the SEC in kickoffs (16.9 yards) and 13th in punts (3.2). But the Bulldogs are solid in coverage, All-SEC kicker Marshall Morgan has made 20 of 22 field goals and Collin Barber averages 44.1 yards per punt. For NU, Mauro Bondi has 46 touchbacks in kickoffs (25 more than Georgia) and Pat Smith has connected on 11 of 12 field goals. Edge: Georgia

Intangibles

Motivation is a legitimate question after both teams played in conference championship games a year ago and expected to be better than 8-4 this season. Both have negative turnover margins, but experience in close games. Nebraska hasn't won a bowl since 2009 (0-5 in last five postseason games overall), while Georgia owns an 8-4 bowl mark under Mark Richt. The crowd should be pretty much equal. Edge: Georgia

Key matchup: Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason vs. Nebraska cornerbacks

Although a fourth-year junior, Mason had played little behind Aaron Murray until the last six quarters of the regular season. Nebraska can challenge him with veteran cornerbacks in coverage such as Ciante Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Josh Mitchell.

Nebraska wins if ...

It can get better quarterback play in a battle of backups.

Georgia wins if ...

It comes out with the right motivation and mind set.

Our take

Nebraska has watched SEC opponents eventually pull away in its last two bowl games, so it has to prove it can play the full 60 minutes. Both teams got battered by injuries this season, although NU hasn't had as many of the season-ending variety and will get some players healthy for this one. The Huskers' defensive improvement will get challenged here and they better keep their turnover problems under control, or else ...

Our prediction: Georgia 35, Nebraska 23

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Extras

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Big Red Today coverage

Big Ten notes: Gophers' kicker has big leg, big frame

If you haven’t seen Minnesota try a place kick this season, that isn’t a defensive end lining up the boot.

Ryan Santoso, at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, hardly ...

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The Boilermakers, who have a bye this week ...

Husker notes: Maliek Collins, Tommy Armstrong catch eye of Rutgers coach Kyle Flood

LINCOLN — Rutgers faced arguably the Big Ten’s best defensive line last week at Ohio State. The Buckeyes won the battle decidedly, holding the Scarlet Knights to 149 yards rushing ...

Husker defense back in black, and aiming to keep it that way

LINCOLN — Each Husker has his own way of relishing the moment that he spots the black practice jersey in his locker, but each one knows how fleeting this sense of ...

They said it: Rutgers coach Kyle Flood on Ameer Abdullah and 'tremendous challenge' of playing Nebraska

Here's a transcript of comments from Rutger's head coach Kyle Flood on Monday at his weekly press conference.

KYLE FLOOD: Good morning. It's an exciting weekend for ...

Video: Husker football weekly press conference

Husker coach Bo Pelini and several players addressed the media Monday as the team prepares to take on Rutgers.

Coach Bo Pelini

Receiver/returner De’mornay Pierson-El

Defensive end Greg ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Join World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel at 10 a.m. for an early edition of “Lunch with Tom” to discuss Nebraska’s matchup with Rutgers and ...

Q&A with Husker defensive end Greg McMullen

The sophomore has continued his solid first season as a starting defensive end for the Huskers. Through seven games, the 6-foot-3, 280-pounder from Akron, Ohio, has 24 tackles, 2½ sacks ...

Notes: Nebraska prepares for morning game after five straight at night

LINCOLN — The night owls will get a brunch kickoff.

After five straight games with kickoff times of 6:30 p.m. or later, Nebraska will have its first 11 a ...

Price earns time, finds rhythm against Wildcats

LINCOLN — Givens Price understood why Nebraska assistant coach John Garrison didn’t call on his backup offensive linemen at Michigan State, even though that was part of the plan.

Price ...

McKewon: Husker defense feasting on third downs

LINCOLN — Defensive end Greg McMullen calls it “time to hunt.” Safety Nate Gerry opts for “time to eat.”

Either way, Nebraska’s defense this season has had a feast on ...

Armstrong’s ‘happy medium’ results in job well done

LINCOLN — Tommy Armstrong looked back at his clunky first half at Northwestern and said after the game that he knew what caused his slow start.

He was thinking too much ...

Shatel: Red-faced over seeing Doug McDermott in purple? Silly

People have asked what I thought about Doug McDermott’s video at the Northwestern game. Well, I thought he looked good in purple.

» This story is so much fun, I ...

Nebraska moves up 3 spots in Top 25 polls

Nebraska is up three spots in the AP Top 25 poll following the team's 38-17 win over Northwestern. They Huskers are now No. 16 in the AP poll.

The ...

Barfknecht: Iowa running out of answers

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The Iowa football team is well-schooled on how to handle the media after games.

Following wins, the Hawkeyes deflect the spotlight, credit teammates and observe that more ...

Notes: Price, Kondolo make most of their time vs. Wildcats

After not playing in Nebraska’s loss at Michigan State, juniors Givens Price and Chongo Kondolo had a conversation about what they could do to find their way on the ...

Husker defensive tackle Williams already looking forward to Rutgers

LINCOLN — Moments after enjoying his best performance as a Husker, defensive tackle Kevin Williams was ready to talk about next week.

The back-up lineman tallied 2 1/2 sacks in ...

McKewon: Second-half dominance gives Huskers momentum

SITTING AT THE GATE (AGAIN) AT O’HARE AIRPORT — You really haven’t lived until you’ve put in a token 15 minutes of waiting in a small, packed plane ...

From the sidelines: Husker fans take over; McDermott on video board

EVANSTON, Ill. — As they did two years ago, Nebraska fans showed up in force and raised the noise level Saturday at Ryan Field.

More than half the crowd of 47 ...

Second half sees Wildcats wobble

EVANSTON, Ill. — If Nebraska’s 38-17 victory over Northwestern is viewed as a tale of two halves, the second part is one Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald hopes never has a ...

Chatelain: Tim Beck’s new weapon is catching on

EVANSTON, Ill. — Frank Solich called the play “Black 41 Flash Reverse.” Tim Beck just called it “Texas.”

"Because Tommy’s from Texas," Beck told me.

The Husker offensive coordinator installed ...

Quarter by quarter: Nebraska 38, Northwestern 17

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa recap the key plays in each quarter of Nebraska's win over Northwestern.

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First quarter

Kenny Bell: The Nebraska wideout is healthy ...

Tracking the Husker offense, defense

World-Herald staff writer Rich Kaipust takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 38-17 win over Northwestern.

* * *

Tracking the offense

The game ...

Nebraska-Northwestern: Five things we learned, don't know

Five things we learned and five things we still don’t know coming out of Saturday's Nebraska-Northwestern football game.

* * *

Five things we learned

1. Nebraska found innovative ways to ...

Pelini praises Armstrong’s leadership after Huskers surge in the second half

EVANSTON, Ill. — With raucous “Go Big Red!” cheers echoing throughout a Ryan Field overrun with Nebraska fans, and the Huskers in a kneel-down victory formation, quarterback Tommy Armstrong sat on ...

Husker Talk Live: Postgame replay

Replay the "Husker Talk Live" postgame chat with World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa to track the discussion following the Nebraska-Northwestern game.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game Day

Video: Husker postgame press conference

Replay the Husker postgame press conference with coach Bo Pelini and Husker I-back Ameer Abdullah.

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Video: Bo Pelini after Northwestern

Video: Ameer Abdullah after Northwestern

Video: Tommy Armstrong after Northwestern

Notes: Abdullah finds his footing, moves up NU’s career charts

EVANSTON, Ill. — It was probably a long seven quarters of sledding for Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, but in his brief postgame interview, he didn’t let on too much ...

After O-line tweaks, Husker run game breaks open

EVANSTON, Ill. — Jake Cotton said Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck didn’t come into the locker room with a bunch of new ideas at halftime Saturday night, nor did Cotton ...

Shatel: In a tale of two halves, Nebraska winds up celebrating — and that’s a good thing

EVANSTON, Ill. — There was a celebration going on down there in the corner of Ryan Field. What was up?

Nebraska players jogged off the field and their fans were waiting ...