The Nebraska Cornhuskers, losers of their last three bowl games, will try to make it back-to-back Gator Bowl victories for the Big Ten when they battle with the injury-depleted Georgia Bulldogs in a bowl rematch from last season, New Year's Day in Jacksonville.
Georgia opened as big favorites here and they own a profitable bowl streak over the past decade while the Huskers have been a solid choice for UNDER bettors at bowl time.
Gator Bowl point spread: Bulldogs opened as 9.5-point favorites; the total was 60.5. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 37.1-35.7 Bulldogs
Why the Huskers can cover the Gator Bowl spread
Nebraska played through some injuries and turmoil this season, losing its starting quarterback and having to deal with a rumored coaching change. Yet the Huskers earned a sixth straight bowl bid. They started 5-1 but went 3-3 to finish at 8-4, with each of their losses coming against bowl-bound teams.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez went down and out with a hip injury in Week 7, but senior backup Ron Kellogg III has completed 61 percent of his throws. Powered by running back Ameer Abdullah, who has rushed for 1,500 yards, at a 6.2 yards-per-carry clip, the Huskers have averaged 222 yards per game on the ground this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Blackshirts rank 35th overall, holding foes to 367 YPG. The computer sees this game going right down to the wire, which would allow Nebraska to cover this number.
Why the Bulldogs can cover the Gator Bowl spread
Georgia also struggled through injuries but managed to make a bowl for the 13th time in 13 seasons under head coach Mark Richt. The Bulldogs began this season as national championship contenders, but they sat at 4-3 in mid-October.
However, they won four of their last five games, and the only loss during that span came at Auburn on that crazy tipped-pass touchdown with less than a minute to go. The 'Dawgs lost starting QB Aaron Murray to a knee injury in Week 11, but they got a winning performance from backup Hutson Mason in the season finale against Georgia Tech.
On the season, Georgia outgained opponents by 109 YPG.
On paper, this game looks like it should be closer than the spread might indicate. Both teams are 8-4, both field decent defenses and both teams are going with backup quarterbacks. But Nebraska is playing under some pressure, considering Coach Bo Pelini's seat could get hot if the Huskers put on a bad performance.
Also, Georgia is on a 6-2 ATS run over its last eight bowl games, while Big Red is 0-3 ATS over its last three bowls. When the Bulldogs beat the Huskers in the Capital One Bowl last January, 45-31, they outgained them by almost 150 yards.
Give the points and go with Georgia, and beware the Gator Bowl betting history trend toward UNDERs (4-1-1 past six editions of this game).
- UNDER is 4-1-1 past six Gator Bowl games
- UNDER is 10-2 past 12 Nebraska bowl games
- Georgia is 6-2 ATS past eight bowl games