After a poor start with a blocked punt (for a safety), the Huskers bounced back to take a very brief first quarter lead (for one play anyway), then rallied again to take a halftime lead. They came out storming after halftime on offense, and had that Georgia Esssssss-Eeeee-Cee Pro Bowl defense gasping for air. Burning timeouts to slow down the pace of the relentless Husker ground game.... until Ameer Abdullah fumbled the ball midway through the third quarter.
The Huskers protested the call, but the play was never reviewed. Not that it probably mattered; ABC ran multiple replays, but they never showed anything that proved Nebraska recovered the fumble. Of course, they were more concerned about whether the ball popped out before he was down or not, and it was pretty clear that the ball was out.
And the game was never the same. Not only did Georgia's beleaguered defense get off the field, momentum forever turned. In the fourth quarter, Nebraska's third down issues when from bad to fatal. A sack of Aaron Murray, then Todd Gurley was stopped for no gain. Third and twelve for the Dawgs from their own 13 yard line. Bo Pelini sends the house, and Chris Conley takes a inside screen and finds absolutely nothing between him and Space Mountain except green grass. Add in a final woefully underthrown Taylor Martinez pass, and it's yet another four loss season for Bo Pelini.
Nebraska didn't get blown out as some feared, so some will proclaim that as a moral victory. That's one way of looking at it. Nebraska gave a good effort, but the bottom line is that Nebraska didn't play well enough to win. This one was different than Nebraska's other losses this season; the Blackshirts held up OK defending the run, but were inept in defending the pass. As always, your feedback is always welcome on the report card. If you aren't a member of CornNation yet, please register...it's free!
QB: Taylor Martinez didn't have a great game, but certainly wasn't the reason why Nebraska lost either. He did a few good things, but frequently ran the ball out of bounds for a loss instead of throwing the ball away. He nearly pulled off the highlight of the day with a second quarter scramble to avoid the sack, but overthrew a wide open Jamal Turner in the end zone. Nebraska had to settle for a field goal two plays later; those four points could have been helpful later on. Grade: C
RB: Rex Burkhead went out a winner in my book with his 140 yard day. My only question is why Tim Beck waited until Nebraska's second drive to get him into the game. Ameer Abdullah ran well, though that fumble was very, very costly. Grade: A-
OL: A decent performance creating running lanes in that SEC defense, to be sure. But as we suspected, pass protection was a little suspect as the Huskers gave up five sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Jake Cotton got into the action but got a costly, unnecessary personal foul penalty that led to a botched field goal attempt. Grade: C
DL: I'm going to grade a bit on the curve here, but the defensive line played much better than I though they would. Five tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. I saw some decent run stops up front as well, especially from Eric Martin, who hasn't been known for that. Grade: B-
LB: Will Compton gave Nebraska a brief lead with his pick-six interception, and led the Huskers with nine tackles. But Alonzo Whaley and Sean Fisher looked to be out of position a lot, especially on those first half Gurley runs. Grade: D+
Secondary: The secondary was much improved this season, but not today. Some of Georgia's passes were simply perfect throws that couldn't be defended...but many others were just plain bad defense. Ciante Evans had one of his worst games as a Husker. Stanley Jean-Baptiste took bad angles on corner blitzes. P.J. Smith wiffed on an arm tackle to allow Gurley to gain another 20 yards. Daimion Stafford seemed out of position frequently. And Andrew Green was, well, Andrew Green. Grade: F
Special Teams: F The Journal-Star gave this a C. A blocked punt that cost Nebraska two points and a bad snap on a field goal try were too damaging to have any sort of passing grade.
Overall: D In my book, it wasn't a failure. Nebraska wasn't expected to win, but certainly looked like they could for much of the second and third quarters. And people who expected Nebraska to get boat-raced like they did in Indy were proved wrong. But it's still a loss.
Elsewhere in College Football
B1G: C- Vegas thought the B1G would go 0-7, but still managed to pull off two wins. And frankly, could have pulled off several others. Even Minnesota nearly pulled off the upset. Only Purdue laid down and failed to show.
SEC: C Hey, the esssseeecee went 2-1 against the B1G today...but it could have been 0-3. Add in LSU's loss to Clemson, and the "dominant conference" didn't look quite as dominant.
B1G Refs: F How the hell do you blow a field goal call? In the first quarter of the Sun Bowl, the officials called a Southern Cal field goal attempt good, only to have it overruled by instant replay. And Bill Lemonnier's crew is supposed to be one of the better ones in the Big Ten.
BTN: F On Twitter, the Big Ten Network tried to play the company line and pump up the Rose Bowl on Twitter. Nobody agreed.
Jadeveon Clowney: A+ At the start of third quarter, Clowney had to leave the game after taking a helmet below the belt in an "America's Funniest Home Videos" moment. Payback came in the fourth quarter.
Baylor: A+ Anybody want to face the Bears now? Didn't think so.
Ohio: A If not for a rash of injuries in November, it might have been Frank Solich on South Beach this week. But hey, being kings of Shreveport isn't bad for a team from the MAC.