In the midst of picking up the pieces after Nebraska fell 45-31 to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl, head coach Bo Pelini made a comment or two about his hope for the future.
To Pelini, who will be heading into his sixth season with the Huskers, there’s some promise for 2013.
“I’m excited about the football team we have coming back,” Pelini said. “I think we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Nebraska is now 48-20 under Pelini after finishing the 2012 season at 10-4. It has lost at least four games in nine consecutive seasons.
But the schedule looks friendly for 2013, with all four nonconference games at home and no Big Ten meetings with Ohio State or Wisconsin. The Huskers only lose about a half-dozen players from their offensive two-deep, but will undergo a makeover defensively with linebacker Will Compton among the many Blackshirts moving on.
“I’m sad to see Will and the seniors go, and I think we’re going to lose a lot of leadership,” Pelini said. “We’re going to lose a lot of character guys that meant a lot to this football program. But I’m really, really excited about what we have coming back and the prospects of what our football team could be next year.”
Some other follow-up items from the Capital One Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium and a week in Orlando for the Huskers:
>> Plenty of controversy surrounded the third-quarter fumble that Ameer Abdullah lost at the Georgia 38. Abdullah thought he was down. NU teammates thought lineman Jake Cotton recovered it. Pelini couldn’t understand why it wasn’t reviewed.
“I can’t do nothing about it now,” Abdullah said.
>> NU assistant coach Terry Joseph, who spent the last two seasons in the SEC with Tennessee, hinted that maybe Georgia’s size and talent made the difference in the final 15 minutes.
“Up until the fourth quarter it’s kind of like you’re sparring a little bit,” Joseph said. “And then you get in the fourth quarter, bigger bodies and depth starts to take over. I thought our kids played hard, we just didn’t have enough gas in the tank.”
>> Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez added to his list of school records by becoming the Huskers’ single-season leader in total offense. The junior accounted for 250 yards (204 passing, 46 rushing) to get to 3,890, surpassing the 3,826 by Joe Ganz in 2008.
>> I-back Rex Burkhead hit a season-high with 140 rushing yards. The senior finishes his career No. 5 on the NU all-time rushing chart with 3,329.
>> The 24-yard interception return by Will Compton in the first quarter was the Huskers’ first defensive score in a bowl game since Jason Peter returned a fumble 31 yards for a touchdown against Virginia Tech in the 1996 Orange Bowl. Compton also got his first career interception in his 50th and final game as a Husker.
>> Georgia recorded both the most yards of total offense against NU in a bowl game (589) and the longest play (87-yard TD pass from Aaron Murray to Chris Conley in the fourth quarter).
>> The Big Ten went just 1-4 on New Year’s Day, with the only win coming from Northwestern, which hadn’t won a bowl game since 1949.
Video: Rich Kaipust’s postgame analysis: