Posted January 01, 2014

Nebraska finds some much-needed good karma in 24-19 Gator Bowl win over Georgia

Bo Pelini, Gator Bowl, Georgia Bulldogs, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Quincy Enunwa

Quincy Enunwa had two receiving scores in Nebraska’s Gator Bowl win over Georgia. (Phil Sears/USA Today Sports)

With all sorts of backups, a rainy field and a relatively empty stadium, no one could blame Georgia and Nebraska for coming out flat to start the Gator Bowl — a rematch of last season’s Capital One Bowl — on New Year’s Day. Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter. Eventually, however, the players found a groove, and the Cornhuskers emerged with a dramatic 24-19 win.

Quarterback Hutson Mason, who spearheaded a late Bulldogs surge, completed 21-of-40 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. Trailing by five points in the final minute, and facing fourth-and-three at the Nebraska 16-yard line, Mason made a good throw over the middle to tight end Arthur Lynch at the nine-yard line. But the senior couldn’t come up with the catch, and the Cornhuskers held on for the victory.

Georgia was a shell of the team that came into the year with SEC title aspirations. In a season-opening 38-35 loss to Clemson on Aug. 31, the Bulldogs lost receiver Malcolm Mitchell to a torn ACL. Wideout Justin Scott-Wesley and running back Keith Marshall both went down with season-ending knee injuries in a 34-31 overtime win at Tennessee on Oct. 5, and receiver Michael Bennett missed time with a torn meniscus. Even quarterback Aaron Murray — a steady and calming influence despite the carnage around him — didn’t escape the season unscathed. He suffered a torn ACL in a 59-17 win over Kentucky on Nov. 23.

Certainly, Georgia didn’t enter 2013 with its sights set on finishing 8-5. But with the rash of injuries and a porous defense, this was actually one of Mark Richt’s better coaching jobs in his 13 seasons in Athens.

The highlight of the game was a 99-yard touchdown pass from Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. to Quincy Enunwa (four catches, 129 yards, two touchdowns), which gave the Cornhuskers a 24-12 lead. The score was Enunwa’s 12th of the year, setting a Nebraska single-season record.

The longest TD of 2014 already! on Twitpic
(Via SB Nation)

The Bulldogs charged back after that. Sophomore tailback Todd Gurley, who also missed time this season with a nagging ankle injury, finished the game with 183 total yards. His lone score came on a 25-yard reception in the opening minute of the fourth quarter that cut the deficit to 24-19. However, Georgia failed to punch in one final touchdown.

The Cornhuskers went through a bitter season of their own, and the bowl win couldn’t have come at a better time. Nebraska gave up 41 points in loss to UCLA on Sept. 14, fell to Minnesota for the first time since 1960 and closed out the regular season with a 38-17 loss to Iowa. The Huskers easily could have dropped two other games — they needed overtime to beat Penn State on Nov. 23, and a were saved by a Hail Mary from backup quarterback Ron Kellogg III in a victory over Northwestern on Nov. 2.

Nebraska was also a victim of the injury bug, with senior quarterback Taylor Martinez (foot) playing in only four games. The defense was a disaster to start the year, though it did improve as the season wore on. There was also the constant speculation about coach Bo Pelini’s job security, which made national headlines after a profanity-laced audiotape was leaked in mid-September.

The two teams could’ve used a reset on the season as a whole. In many ways, their respective journeys were similar to that of the title character in the latest Coen Brothers movie, Inside Llewyn Davis. The movie started and ended with Davis getting kicked in the gut — a feeling that both the Huskers and Bulldogs know all too well.

For Nebraska, this victory puts a positive cap on an otherwise disappointing year. For Georgia, well, a new year is just beginning.

30 comments
JeffBockert
JeffBockert

Auburn supposedly deserved a title shot over Michigan State because they beat Alabama huh...what a bunch of bull. The media hyped them all year so they could pull off just this kind of highway robbery - just like they've done the past few years. I love that the actual games prove that the SEC isn't any better than any other conference. We need playoffs. Michigan State deserves a title shot. 

JeffBockert
JeffBockert

Looks like the SEC was overhyped by ESPN and SI. Luckily, they were matched up against Rice,Duke, Iowa and Wisconsin. 

FritoBaggins
FritoBaggins

Nebraska doesn't need karma.  Nebraska needs to get rid of Rage Rat.

GTT
GTT

By the way, that wasn't a 99-yard TD play. It was a 99-yard, 11-inch TD play. Congrats Nebraska, you guys played very well.

GTT
GTT

UGA has gotten less done defensively with more talent that anyone, possibly, in the history of college football. Richt says Grantham gets another year, which I hope comes with an ultimatum to improve.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

But Nebraska with it's starters against Georgia without a starign QB, RB, 2-3 wide outs, yeah great win

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Man, Georgia's DB's in 2 straight games are sooo awesome. Can't TACKLE but have to bump a guy, and are too stupid against Auburn trying to act cool with an INT and screw that up.

TimHarb
TimHarb

I love how they are talking about GU being completely a shell. Nebraska is too. Our offense is completely on life support as well and still trying to figure out how they made the win.  It was a good game to watch tho.

bambam824
bambam824

Great composure by Enunwa on the touchdown run, and a great job by the Huskers.

Bernard6
Bernard6

Cost

Costly win for NU. You're stuck with Crazy Bo anther year.

Langj
Langj

@DrSchteeve- you are incorrect, know the rules. The QB's forearm was down outside the end zone with the ball not touching the goal line or inside the end zone. Therefore the correct call was made. Video review confirmed the call. Meaning 100% sure the correct call was made.

HerschelAnderton
HerschelAnderton

uga is an embarrassment.  they shouldn't have even been in a bowl, and they deserve to lose.

LiveHope
LiveHope

why when an SEC teams loses do the reporters make it seems as if its not news but if an SEC team wins its a huge story?

Husker1
Husker1

Good job guys.  It wasn't perfect, but like so many games lately; exciting to the end.  Go Big Red!

Cool
Cool

@ItsNishaJ @MeanGene420 My god girl, what was happening while you were trying to record this?  Was a cat scratching you up or was a dog chewing on your leg???   Get rid of the animals before you make another recording.

ultimaratioregum
ultimaratioregum

@WHO*IS*ESPN Yeah, I love the way poor ole Georgia was so beat up, missing their fairly good first string QB, when Nebraska was missing their QB who holds nearly every school record there is, some of our key O line and a bunch of freshman on the D line.  That's who beat poor ole, SEC talent laden Georgia.  Go whine somewhere else. 

pbking81
pbking81

@WHO*IS*ESPNActually, Nebraska was without it's All-American OG and one of the starting DEs. Also, most of the OL was banged up coming in to the game, and of course, Taylor Martinez was missing.

ultimaratioregum
ultimaratioregum

@Bernard6  

Yeah, we'll have to suffer being one of only three schools with 9 wins a season over the last 6 years

And not having sanctions slapped on us because Bo and his staff don’t cheat. 
We’ll have to put up with not having our kids go nuts off the field because Bo has a no-nonsense policy on team rules and behavior. 
We’ll have another year of our football players graduating. 
And then there’s the Bo Pelini recruiting fiascoes where he doesn’t over sign so some kids that trusted him don’t get shafted. 
And we’ll have to put up with his philosophy of not lying to recruits just to get them on campus. 
Oh, and we’ll have to put up with another year more of coach Bo checking up on players to make sure they are going to class.

ScottAlexander
ScottAlexander

@Bernard6 Keep up the love for Bo...I can think of about five top twenty teams would love to have him because their current coach lacks fire, or wins or anything....

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@LiveHopeIt seems that way because your paranoia and conspiracy speculation has gotten the best of you.  It's only football.

MarcoZ
MarcoZ

@LiveHopeI agree.  With the SEC's financial connection with ESPN, you never get an honest analysis about college football.  The PAC 12 is as good as the SEC this year and you would not know it if viewing ESPN/ABC.

DrSchteeve
DrSchteeve

@Husker1 Except it should have been a safety the play before.  Refs blew the call.  And I don't have a dog in the hunt.

BoomRat63
BoomRat63

@DrSchteeve@Husker1  

Yeah, DrSchteeve, you'd have a point if you weren't so completely wrong.

In order for that to have been a safety the BALL would have had to be entirely inside the end zone when Armstrong went down.  Every replay conclusively showed that Armstrong's forearm touched the turf (meaning he was down at that instant) with the ball ENTIRELY OUTSIDE the end zone. 


The ball was properly spotted at the one foot line, which is where the ball was when Armstrong was downed.

pandebailey
pandebailey

@DrSchteeve@Husker1 Safety?  What network were you watching?  It was very clear the ball was outside the end zone the QB went down.  Your dog must be the seeing eye variety?