Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
After the 2013 regular season ended with The Nebraska Cornhuskers falling to The Iowa Hawkeyes 38-17 in The Hero’s Game, The Gator Bowl can’t get here fast enough.
Sure, a rematch of last year’s Capital One Bowl against Georgia might not seem like the most attractive matchup out there, it does give Nebraska a chance to turn the page on this season’s misfortunes and build towards 2014. The opportunity to play a complete game against an SEC foe on New Year’s Day could be big.
Nebraska and Georgia are limping into The Gator Bowl. Both will be playing with backup quarterbacks, stud running backs, and question marks heading into the future. Neither fan base is overly excited about a rematch, and both teams are trying to lock up their ninth win of the season. While each team will go into the game wanting a win, there is a ton of upside for Nebraska taking down The Dawgs in Jacksonville. A win for The Nebraska Cornhuskers would give the team, coaching staff, and fan base plenty of positives going into next season.
Running back Ameer Abdullah has a chance to showcase his skills on the same field as Todd Gurley. Both backs will be likely Heisman candidates next year and Abdullah has the opportunity to show the nation what he is really made of. Having a month to rest and prepare for the game should have him in great playing shape to turn on the afterburners and run wild.
A young defense who really started to gel as the season wrapped up can prove that they will be a force in 2014 by shutting down Georgia’s offense. While The Bulldog’s will be missing starting quarterback Aaron Murray, The Dawgs will have plenty of bite with a good running game and solid air attack. If The Blackshirts can hold their own against Georgia, it will say a lot about next years team defensively.
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. will have an opportunity to build towards his 2014 campaign, which will likely include a heated battle with Johnny Stanton for the starting quarterback position. Armstrong showed flashes of brilliance after Taylor Martinez was sidelined by injury, but he also struggled down the stretch against less than impressive defenses. If Armstrong can play well against a good SEC defense it will help the young signal caller moving forward.
Above all, it will give The Huskers a shot at redemption. For a good portion of last years game against Georgia, Nebraska looked like they were the better team. Then it happened, everything unraveled. This is Nebraska’s chance to play a complete four quarters of football for the first time in a long time. It would be a great first step in laying the foundation for a successful 2014.