Huskers close with tough loss in Capital One Bowl
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The last time Nebraska took the field, its own shortcomings ended with one of the most disappointing losses in its history.
The Cornhuskers' 45-31 loss to Georgia in Tuesday's Capital One Bowl did little for the healing process.
Quarterback Aaron Murray threw five touchdown passes to set a Georgia bowl record, including two in the fourth quarter, as the sixth-ranked Bulldogs sent No. 23 Nebraska to its third straight bowl loss.
It was a particularly stinging defeat for the Cornhuskers (10-4), who finished the season with two straight losses — both with woeful defensive performances. Nebraska is just a month removed from losing 70-31 to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 1.
The 591 yards of total offense that Georgia posted in its win Tuesday were the most Nebraska has ever allowed in a bowl game, passing the previous high of 518 by Alabama in the 1966 Orange Bowl.
"We didn't win the football game. At the end of the day that's what we're about around here," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "They didn't sit there and dwell on what happened in the Big Ten title game but ... we didn't get it done and that's what we're about in this program, is to win football games.
"But I thought as far as how they responded to what happened in that game, I thought they did that."
Murray shook off a pair of first-half interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and passed for 427 yards — also a Bulldogs bowl record — against the nation's top-ranked passing defense. He was the game's most valuable player on the way to earning his first bowl victory at Georgia.
Georgia (12-2) also reached 12 wins for the third time in school history.
The Cornhuskers led 24-23 at the half, but committed two of their three turnovers in the final 30 minutes.
Taylor Martinez had two interceptions and two touchdown passes for Nebraska, and Rex Burkhead rushed for 140 yards in his final college game.
Pelini said the efficiency of Murray and Georgia on third down (12 for 17) was too much to overcome.
"I thought the plan was good," he said of his team's defensive scheme. "Third down hurt us, obviously. When we're in position, it was man on man down the field. We needed to make some of those plays and we didn't."
Nebraska drops to 12-7 against SEC opponents in bowl games.
Trailed by questions about his team's focus following its narrow loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game, Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday was also about a team that finished 5 yards shy of a BCS title-game berth finding closure.
Nebraska's offense finished with 443 total yards, but the Bulldogs' defense was stingy when it needed to be.
They sacked Martinez five times, with junior All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones notching two. Damian Swann had both Georgia interceptions.
With his two sacks, Jones set a single-season record with 14.5. He will now decide in the coming days whether or not to enter the NFL draft.