ORLANDO, Fla.—Happy New Year from Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium! What better way to start 2013 than some college football 13 hours after the ball (or peach) dropped .
You no doubt know all the storylines of Georgia-Nebraska by now after reading Capital One bowl coverage for all these days leading up to the game.
If not, please check out Dogbytesonline.com for plenty on the matchup.
You know that Nebraska got pounded by 39 points in the Big Ten title game, but did you remember that Nebraska has five national titles in 1970, 1971, 1994, 1995 and 1997? Only Alabama with seven (could be right by next week) has more since 1970.
Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium now has AstroTurf. Nebraska plays its home games on FieldTurf, the same surface that Georgia often practices on at its campus fields.
Remember Penn State’s 19-17 win here three years ago in a muddy field that as the bowl’s media guide said made the field look like a mosh pit?
Speaking of mosh pits, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd and Guns’ n’ Roses have played here. So has Isaiah Crowell. The former Georgia running back’s first game for Alabama State was here on Sept. 2 in a 38-28 loss to Bethune-Cookman. He scored on a 2-yard touchdown.
Aaron Murray won a state title as a senior here for Plant High and wants to get his first bowl win in three tries.
“I know me personally, I have yet to win, been part of a winning bowl game, so I really want to win. I am going to do what I can to make sure this offense and this team is ready to go,” the Georgia quarterback said.
Bowl games, of course, bring different challenges.
Like the regular gameday preparation being thrown off kilter.
Georgia coach Mark Richt mentioned to reporters both Sunday and Monday there’s a nearly twice as long time Georgia will spend in the locker room prior to the game as concerning.
“We actually have a 37 minute time that we’ve got to wait in the locker room after pregame warmup,” Richt said. “It’s usually a 20 minute deal. There’s going to be an extra 17 minutes in that locker room before the game. I’ve got to think strategically how to hit the emotion of it because if you get it too early and you just sit around and wait, you might have wasted some good stuff.”
The reason for the longer locker room time has to do with pregame festivities—skydiving, a flyover and the national anthem—as well as the TV broadcast. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:08 p.m.
“It’s a little bit different to manage,” Richt said. “I know there’s reasons but as a coach and a team trying to prepare to go to battle, I just think it’s too long.”
Having said that, is all of that going to lead to something like black jerseys? That would certainly be an answer to the thought of a lack of motivation for Georgia after falling just short of getting to the national title game.
Georgia’s end zone is painted black (Nebraska’s is red). And there was the scene of Richt asking Nebraska coach Bo Pelini to talk for a minute or two in between their press conferences yesterday. Were they talking about Georgia changing its jersey color? Linebacker Ryne Rankin, the early enrollee, already speculated about black jerseys on Twitter.
Update from AD Greg McGarity: “We’re wearing white. We’re the visiting team.”
Some more pregame items:
–Random Nebraska fact. Famous Alums: Warren Buffet, Johnny Carson, Merg Helgenberger, Andy Roddick
–Nebraska allows 194.9 yards per game rushing, which is 95th in the nation. What then to make of the Cornhuskers pass defense? It ranks first in the nation at 148.23 yards per game and second in pass efficiency defense.
The Big Ten doesn’t have a single quarterback in the top 40 in the nation in passing efficiency except for Taylor Martinez, who ranks 39th.
“They do a good job of matching routes and playing concepts,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “They’ve had a month here to study us. They’ll be prepared and ready, but we’re going to have to be able to run the ball to get them out of some two high safety looks to get some one on one outside. They played South Carolina last year in their bowl game. They tried to spread it around and throw it around a little bit and didn’t have a lot of success in that game throwing it. We’re going to have to be on top of it to throw the ball.”
Said Nebraska secondary coach Terry Joseph: “I think as you watch us play throughout the season, we want to be aggressive, we want to challenge some guys and we don’t want to give a wide window to throw the ball. We want to have tight coverage and we want to get bodies on bodies. The guys have really bought into the system and played well, but this is going to be a different challenge because they have so many guys who can work down the field. It will be interesting to see how we match up, because everybody has to be on their ‘Ps and Qs’ because anybody who lines up out there can go downtown on you.”
–Two leftover quotes from Mark Richt that are worth sharing now.
“Hopefully we’ll start out with the right type of emotion, but we’ve got to play 60 minutes,” Richt said.
And this: “It’s almost like playing the first game again in some ways because you spend so much time between games.”
–Nebraska wide receiver Quincy Enunwa on playing in Orlando instead of at the Rose Bowl: “We lost and we don’t get to go back to California, but we’re playing a better team than Wisconsin’s playing. If we win this game, it will be a big statement for next year.”
Wisconsin’s playing Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
–Defensive end Abry Jones isn’t going to play, it appears. He wasn’t even dressed out for warmups. Also backup offensive lineman Hunter Long wasn’t dressed out again either. His brother, Austin, with his hand clubbed after surgery, is warming up.
–Some parting shots from some players:
“We’re excited to to get out there on the field with a team like Georgia,” Nebraska linebacker Will Compton said. “I mean they were four yards away from being a national championship team. We’re ready for that challenge.”
Georgia end/outside linebacker Cornelius Washington: “It’s not exactly what we wanted, but we accomplished a lot of goals this year, we’ve done a lot of great things,” Washington said. “We have a chance to be on the of the best teams in Georgia football history.”
And inside linebacker Alec Ogletree: “We’ve still got one game left to play. Hopefully we can make a good memory out of this one.”
–More to come
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer