Here’s how the bowl game sets up in the eyes of an Omaha World-Herald writer:
The game within the game as we run headlong into bowl week is this: Pelini’s complex, match-read defense — excellent one game, befuddling the next — against Georgia coach Mark Richt’s complex, pro-style offense. Richt — every bit the offensive coordinator at Florida State that Pelini was the defensive coordinator at LSU — likes young coaches on his side of the ball as much as Pelini does.
Richt has former Bulldog quarterback Mike Bobo calling the plays. Bobo, 38, is essentially a wunderkind, a full-time assistant by age 27, a Georgia lifer, perhaps Richt’s successor. The Bulldogs’ offensive line coach is 37 and was a four-year starter at Alabama. Running backs coach Bryan McClendon — who coached up true freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall this year — just turned 29.
You know how Pelini rolls. There might not be a younger defensive staff in the country. But they’re all on same page — Bo’s page. That’s why, after the 70-31 debacle against Wisconsin, they were all equally stunned by the meltdown.
There are no easy answers for Bo in this game.
Georgia is comfortable spreading out and running into an emptied-out defensive box. It’s comfortable throwing downfield to lanky wide receivers. It’s comfortable testing safeties up the seam. It’s comfortable getting the ball in space to Gurley and Marshall, two explosive athletes who combined for more than 2,000 total yards, and letting them work. It’s comfortable working corners in the slot.
All the things an offense could do to exploit the weaknesses of NU’s defense, the Bulldogs can, except one — Murray doesn’t run the zone read. Murray’s second nationally in passing efficiency, though. That makes up for it.
I admit that’s the first time I’ve seen “Bobo” and “wunderkind” used in the same sentence.
And here’s your stat matchup for the day:
>> 21: Fumbles lost for Nebraska. Tied for last in the nation with Memphis. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck cited a “high-risk offense” for some of the turnovers, and frankly I agree — NU needs more takeaways. But ball security is a learned skill. The Huskers — especially Martinez — need to learn it better.
>> 20: Forced fumbles by Georgia. That’s No. 3 in the country. The Bulldogs recovered 16 of them. That’s No. 2 nationally. Linebacker Jarvis Jones, just another guy, has seven forced fumbles by himself. That’s No. 1 among defensive players. Makes you feel a lot better, right?
You give me a +2 in turnover margin for Georgia in that game and I’m liking the Dawgs’ chances a lot.