By: Scott Crumbly
SEC Digital Network
ORLANDO, Fla. – One of the major questions facing No. 10 Georgia as it entered Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl showdown with Nebraska was how the Bulldogs would respond following a heart-wrenching defeat in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
Georgia suffered a last-second loss to the Tide that not only cost them an SEC title, but denied it a spot in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7. Given the circumstances, it would not have been surprising to see the Bulldogs come out a little flat on New Year’s Day in Orlando.
But, Georgia was anything but flat on Tuesday afternoon.
The Georgia offense, already the most prolific unit in program history, added an exclamation point to a record-setting season by hanging 45 points on the Huskers. The 2012 Bulldogs shattered the previous record for points in a single season, which belonged to the 2002 squad (450).
Todd Gurley ended his first year as a Bulldog in style, running for 125 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Today’s performance brought his season total to 1,385 yards and 17 scores, averaging 6.2 yards per tote.
In fact, the ground game did not pose a problem for either team in Orlando. The Dawgs ran the ball 38 times as a team for 162 yards on the day, and the Huskers powered their way to 239 rushing yards on 52 carries.
The difference in the game was the lights out play from Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
While both teams ran the ball well, Murray orchestrated an impressive performance that relentlessly attacked the nation’s top-rated pass defense. The junior signal caller from nearby Tampa turned in an unprecedented stat line in his home state. Murray threw for a Capital One Bowl record 427 yards to go along with five touchdowns, including a bowl record 87-yard connection to Chris Conley.
Perhaps even more impressively, Murray’s eye-popping numbers came on only 18 completions – an average of over 23 yards per completion. For perspective, Nebraska had only been allowing 11 yards per completion on the season prior to its New Year’s date with the Bulldogs. In addition to the 87-yarder, Murray also notched TDs on throws of 29, 24, 49, and 75 yards on the afternoon, dissecting the Huskers’ secondary.
The passing game also proved timely for UGA. Early in the third quarter – when Nebraska appeared poised to take control of the game – Murray found Conley for a 49-yard score that kept the Bulldogs in the game and ultimately allowed them to overtake the Huskers with a 14-point fourth quarter.
By the time the final whistle sounded, UGA had racked up 589 yards of offense. Georgia’s 427 passing yards were the most that Nebraska had surrendered all season by a wide margin, with the closest mark being 240 by Penn State on Nov. 10. Georgia will finish the year with 12 wins, marking only the third time that the Bulldogs have ever won 12 or more in a season, the first time since 2002.
All in all, it was a great showing from a team coming off such a tough loss so recently.
As for Georgia’s response? There are no questions now.