ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia gave up 350 rushing yards to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game, but the Bulldogs were downright stingy compared to Nebraska.
Hours after Eddie Lacy rushed for 181 yards and T.J. Yeldon added 153 for the Crimson Tide inside the Georgia Dome, the Cornhuskers yielded a school-record 539 rushing yards in a 70-31 loss to Wisconsin at the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. Georgia and Nebraska will be out for atonement -- or at least to avoid further embarrassment -- when the two storied programs meet at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on New Year's Day.
"We're definitely going to go all out to redeem ourselves," Georgia inside linebacker Michael Gilliard said. "I couldn't believe we gave up that many yards."
Georgia also allowed more than 300 rushing yards against the triple-option offenses of Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech during its final two regular-season games. The Bulldogs rank 77th nationally against the run (yielding 177.77 yards a game), while Nebraska is even worse at 95th (194.85).
The Badgers shredded the Cornhuskers with the tailback trio of freshman Melvin Gordon (216 yards on nine carries), senior Montee Ball (202 on 21) and junior James White (109 on 15).
"When you give up big rushing yards, that's a recipe for disaster," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "We had a number of misfits and missed tackles, and you can't recover from that. That's going to be an area both teams are going to have to shore up, and it's probably an area both teams are going to try and exploit."
The Cornhuskers, who were torched by Gordon for a 56-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game, also allowed 371 rushing yards in a 63-38 loss at Ohio State on Oct. 6.
Georgia's efforts against Alabama started promising enough, as the Crimson Tide managed 25 first-quarter yards on six carries. The Tide strengthened significantly in the second quarter, compiling 127 yards on 16 rushes, and tied the game on a 41-yard Lacy run over the right side with 1:59 left before halftime.
"I think it just came down to gap control," Bulldogs inside linebacker Christian Robinson said. "On their first long run, we just got gapped out. When you have great running backs like they do, they just take off."
The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns to take a 21-10 lead in the third quarter, which was the largest lead of the game, but Alabama responded with two touchdown drives in which the Tide gained 118 yards on 11 rushes. The Tide attempted just one pass on those two possessions in taking a 25-21 lead.
"Some of it was just not wrapping them up better," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I told them before the game that we would not be able to knock those guys down. I told them we might knock them down a time or two but that if our goal was to knock them down that we would be embarrassed. We had a couple of times where we could have made some stops if we just wrapped up better."
Said outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins: "I think we played a little bit too tight on the linemen, because we weren't able to get off the linemen and make the tackle on Lacy and Yeldon. I think this game will let us get some of the anger out."
Nebraska is led in rushing by sophomore I-back Ameer Abdullah and junior quarterback Taylor Martinez. Abdullah has amassed 1,089 yards and averages 5 yards a carry, while Martinez has 973 yards and a 5.6-yard clip.
Georgia's Todd Gurley will enter the bowl with 1,260 yards and a 6.3-yard average after racking up 122 against Alabama, while fellow freshman tailback Keith Marshall has 723 yards and averages 6.6 per rush.
"I think that's what it will come down to," Pelini said. "First and foremost, you've got to be able to stop the run."
Odds and ends
Inclement weather forced the Bulldogs to hold an indoor walkthrough Monday after Sunday's practice was scrapped. ... Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to reporters after Monday's practice: "I think we all aspire to run our own program one day." ... Tramel Terry, a Rivals.com four-star athlete prospect from South Carolina who is planning to enroll early, tore his ACL in Saturday's Shrine Bowl.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...