We've all seen this story before: The overconfident double-digit favorite spends a month hearing — and thinking — about how it will trounce its overmatched opponent in its bowl game. But by halftime, the would-be bully is scrambling just to keep pace with the underdog.
The heavy favorite vs. underdog scenario fits this year's Capital One Bowl, where No. 6 Georgia — which came 5 yards from earning a berth in the national championship game — is facing off against Nebraska, a 70-31 loser its last time out.
The Bulldogs are favored by 10 points, according to most online betting sites, but history shows that it's not uncommon for a double-digit underdog to pull off a bowl game upset.
Since the 1998 season, 16 of the 53 teams favored by 10 points or more in their bowl game have lost, according to BeyondTheBets.com. It's happened twice in national title games: Ohio State's Fiesta Bowl win over Miami after the 2002 season and Oklahoma's upset over Florida State in the Orange Bowl after the 2000 season.
Nebraska's been involved in a couple, too. The Huskers upset Michigan in the 2005 Alamo Bowl, but surprisingly lost to Washington in the Holiday Bowl two years ago.
So it's been proven that on-paper talent doesn't always translate to wins in college football's postseason, which is often influenced more by the teams' mental states.
The Huskers haven't been available for interviews since their 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. But they vowed after the defeat that they'll have plenty of motivation to play one more game.
“We're going to come back to work, regardless,” senior Will Compton said after the game. “The sun's going to rise tomorrow, we have to understand that. For a little bit, it's going to feel like the world's ending. It always does.
“Guys just need to not play for us if they don't want to pick up the pieces and get it together and get an 11th win.”
The team's shown resiliency before, said sophomore Chase Rome. “It's just life, especially life in football,” he said. “We'll keep moving forward.”
Georgia is facing similar disappointment. The Bulldogs dropped a 32-28 thriller against Alabama in the SEC title game, losing a shot at the national title, falling short of the SEC championship and missing out on a BCS bowl bid.
There have been teams snubbed by BCS bowls that have significantly underachieved in their postseason games, despite being double-digit favorites. But it's been nearly eight years since California lost to Texas Tech in the 2004 Holiday Bowl. Kansas State also dropped the 1998 Alamo Bowl to Purdue.
Georgia coach Mark Richt expects his team to be ready for Nebraska on Jan. 1 in Orlando.
“(Our players) want to go out here and leave our program on a high note, and in a first class manner,” Richt said last week. “I don't think we'll have trouble getting the guys ready to play.”
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10 Bowl Game Upsets by Double-Digit Underdogs
2002: Hawaii Bowl
Tulane 36, Hawaii 28, Hawaii favored by 14˝
1998: Alamo Bowl
Purdue 37, Kansas State 34, Kansas State favored by 14
2010: Holiday Bowl
Washington 19, Nebraska 7, Nebraska favored by 13˝
2004: Las Vegas Bowl
Wyoming 24, UCLA 21, UCLA favored by 12˝
2002: Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State 31, Miami 24, Miami favored by 12
2000: Orange Bowl
Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2, Florida State favored by 11˝
2007: Capital One
Michigan 41, Florida 35, Florida favored by 10˝
2004: Holiday Bowl
Texas Tech 45, California 31, California favored by 10˝
2005: Alamo Bowl
Nebraska 32, Michigan 28, Michigan favored by 10
2006: Music City
Kentucky 28, Clemson 20, Clemson favored by 10
10 Bowl blowouts of Double-Digit Underdogs
2010: Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma 48, Connecticut 20, Oklahoma favored by 16˝
2010: Las Vegas Bowl
Boise State 26, Utah 3, Boise State favored by 16˝
2001: Orange Bowl
Florida 56, Maryland 23, Florida favored by 14˝
2011: Las Vegas Bowl
Boise State 56, Arizona State 24, Boise State favored by 14
2007: Rose Bowl
USC 49, Illinois 17, USC favored by 13˝
2009: Sugar Bowl
Florida 51, Cincinnati 24, Florida favored by 12˝
2006: Poinsettia Bowl
TCU 37, Northern Illinois 7, TCU favored by 12˝
2003: Tangerine Bowl
N.C. State 56, Kansas 26, NC State favored by 12
2008: St. Petersburg Bowl
USF 41, Memphis 14, USF favored by 10˝
2003: Houston Bowl
Texas Tech 38, Navy 14, Texas Tech favored by 10˝