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January 1, 2013

Georgia keys to victory and HOL staff predictions

ORLANDO, Fla. - Nebraska will look to end their season the right way here at the Capital One Bowl when they take on Georgia.

The Bulldogs come into this game just 4 yards short of playing in the national championship game. As things get closer to kickoff, here are today's keys to a Husker victory over Georgia. The Bulldogs are currently a 9 point favorite over the Big Red.

Establishing the run

This may be the biggest key for Nebraska. If they want to have any chance to win this game, they probably need to run for around 200 to 250 yards on the ground.

If the Huskers can establish their running game and have third-and-short situations it makes this offense that much more dangerous. If they get behind the chains or down by more than 10 points on the scoreboard that's when they are going to have a hard time matching up with Georgia's team speed on defense.

Force quick three-and-outs

The Huskers will go into today's game very thin and limited up front on defense. NU cannot afford to keep their defense on the field for long sustained drives, because their front four isn't deep enough to hold up for four quarters.

That means the Huskers are going to have to force some quick three-and-outs and get some help from their own offense.

Protecting Taylor Martinez

It's no secret Georgia's pass rush and particularly linebacker Jarvis Jones will be the best the Huskers have faced this season.

When NU is put in passing situations they need to find ways to move the pocket and most importantly the tight ends and the running backs may be called on to provide max protection.

Quarterback Taylor Martinez also needs to be able to identify the blitz and pressure packages coming before the snap to avoid any possible blind side hits.

Pressure and confuse Murray

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray has faced defensive schemes similar to Nebraska in the SEC against teams like LSU, Florida and Alabama.

Like Nebraska those teams run a match-up zone system where their safeties and corners route match. Bo Pelini needs to find ways to confuse Murray, which won't be easy. Murray is a savvy veteran and Pelini will have to show him some different looks in order to get him off-balanced.

I expect the Huskers to blitz quite a bit because I don't see their front four effectively getting pressure on him by themselves.

Who wants it more?

Really this game is simple. Who wants it more? Yes Georgia is a big favorite on paper, but do they really want to be in Orlando? Do they respect Nebraska or will they take them lightly? These are all things we don't know yet.

As for the Huskers, have they bounced back from that loss in Indianapolis or will the hangover still show? The biggest thing is how will they respond if Georgia gets a big play on offense or jumps up early?

Nebraska has a lot to play for in terms of just healing the morale of a wounded Husker nation. A win would help close this recruiting class out strong and most certainly put NU in a spot to be a top 15 preseason team heading into 2013.

Callahan's weekly predictions

I expect Nebraska's offense to start fast, but at the end of the day the Huskers don't have the horses up front to slow down Georgia's offense for four quarters.

Georgia 37 Nebraska 31
Stanford 34 Wisconsin 28
Michigan 27 South Carolina 23
Northwestern 41 Mississippi State 38
Oklahoma State 45 Purdue 10

Season Record: 47-17 overall; 43-21 vs. points

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