You can't be sloppy against a team that has better athletes. That combination sent Nebraska to its third consecutive bowl loss Tuesday, a 45-31 defeat at the hands of Georgia.
Taylor Martinez threw a pair of interceptions, but the most crushing of the Huskers' three turnovers was Ameer Abdullah's fumble at the Georgia 38-yard line with the game tied 31-31 and the Huskers moving the ball.
Nebraska never scored again after that point. It was the second year in a row Abdullah had a game-changing fumble in the second half of a bowl game.
The Huskers played hard against a team with several players who will see action in the NFL, but eventually the superior speed and talent rose to the top.
Here are three keys to the Huskers' fourth consecutive loss to a SEC team:
1. The Husker offensive line looked great for three quarters and had the Bulldogs reeling and gasping for breath after Rex Burkhead's 2-yard touchdown run to cap a picture-perfect 75-yard drive to start the second half. Then, the O-line went stagnant, committed key penalties and let Georgia put too much pressure on Martinez. On back-to-back fourth-quarter plays, junior Andrew Rodriguez had an illegal procedure penalty and was guilty of holding, although it was declined. His move from guard to tackle is disappointing.
2. Nebraska defensive backs were outplayed by Georgia receivers on 50-50 passes downfield, the type of play where defender and receiver have pretty much an equal chance at the ball. As Will Compton said after the game, Georgia made plays and Nebraska didn't. That was evident on Tavarres King's 75-yard TD reception over Andrew Green and Chris Conley's 49-yard touchdown catch over Ciante Evans.
3. The Huskers improved their third-down defense in 2012, but not today: Georgia converted 12 of 17. Many of them were game-changers on third-and-long. The Husker defense couldn't get off the field when it had opportunities.
So ends the Husker season.
Tad Stryker is the former sports editor of the North Platte Bulletin and provides analysis after each Husker football game for Bulletin readers. Stryker also writes for HuskerMax. (http://www.huskermax.com).