It is now official. The Georgia Bulldogs will play the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day.
It’s not the bowl game the Bulldogs wanted to play in to start the season, but the good thing is they will play on January 1, which is the next best thing if a team can’t play in a BCS bowl.
The Bulldogs did a lot of good things in their wins against Kentucky and Georgia Tech to end the season with an 8-4 record. However, there are a few things that need to be fixed if they want to defeat the Cornhuskers for the second consecutive year and earn their ninth win of the season.
Here are five things we need to see from the Bulldogs in the Gator Bowl.
The first thing fans would like to see is the improvement of Huston Mason.
He looked sharp in the Kentucky game and looked better against Georgia Tech. But with a month to prepare for this game, Mason is expected to have his best showing of the year.
So this game means more to Mason than probably anybody on the roster, including the seniors. Mason already has a leg up on the rest of the competition for next season, but he needs to show the fans that he is ready to lead the Bulldogs next season.
He is walking into a great situation next year because he will have an experienced group of offensive linemen and skill players returning. So it’s almost vital for him to be on top of his game on New Year’s Day.
And speaking of skill players, it would also be good to see Todd Gurley have a huge game to end the year.
Ever since Gurley has come back from his ankle injury, he has averaged 90 rushing yards per game, with six touchdowns in the last five games. Gurley has also been a player in the receiving game, averaging 60 yards per game and scoring four touchdowns in the last five games.
With a month to rest and prepare, Gurley should have no issues having a big game against a Cornhusker team that has given up 161 rushing yards per game this season.
Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson produced strong numbers during the regular season. Herrera finished with 107 tackles, while Wilson finished with an SEC-leading 128 tackles.
Both linebackers need to have dominant performances against a team that averages 221 rushing yards per game.
It won’t be an easy task for the Wilson and Herrera to slow down the run game because Ameer Abdullah finished the regular season with 1,568 yards and six touchdowns.
However, the two have gone against the likes of Jeremy Hill and Mike Davis, as well as the rushing attacks of Auburn and Georgia Tech. So this will be nothing new for them.
If the linebackers play well, then the secondary has to be on top of its game as well, which has been an issue this season.
Yes, the unit is young, and like the skill players on offense, it has gone through its share of injuries. But it needs to show the fans it has turned the corner and can make plays consistently.
The good thing about this game for the secondary is the Cornhuskers don’t like to throw all over the field, as they only average 199 passing yards per game. But with the Bulldogs giving up 232 yards per game through the air, expect Nebraska to throw the ball a lot more than normal to open up the run game.
The same thing happened against Georgia Tech and Auburn. So the secondary has to play its best game of the year come January 1.
With this being the second consecutive time the Bulldogs will face Nebraska in a bowl game, they won’t have to do too much work in terms of preparation.
The Bulldogs want to win to end the season with a 9-4 mark. But more than anything, they need to make a statement. They have to show the fans that this game is a preview of what’s to come in 2014, because the majority of starters who will be playing in the Gator Bowl will be back next season.
So more than anything, the fans need to see the Bulldogs have their best game of the year. Their best win of the year so far was against LSU earlier this season, but they made their share of mistakes, especially on defense. If there is such thing as a perfect game in football, the Bulldogs need to have that at the Gator Bowl.