ORLANDO, Fla. — Georgia gave itself a makeover Tuesday, and it's a look the Bulldogs hope is permanent.
Not known in recent seasons as a program that finishes strong, Georgia took a step toward changing that image with a strong second half that produced a 45-31 victory over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.
The Bulldogs trailed 24-23 at halftime. Instead of letting the anxiety of a closer-than-expected opening two quarters fester in the locker room, Georgia coach Mark Richt stuck with the approach that worked well during a 12-2 season.
Richt let his offensive and defensive staffs do what they usually do — use an overhead projector to go over adjustments for the final 30 minutes.
“What a coach might say at halftime is overrated,” Richt said. “Those (adjustments) are the things coaches say that make a difference.”
Richt did remind his team of how things unraveled in the second half of last season's triple-overtime loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl.
The Bulldogs received all of those messages. After allowing the Huskers a touchdown on their opening possession of the second half, they dominated the final 23 minutes of the game.
The big difference through all four quarters was third-down conversions. The Bulldogs were 12 of 17, and two produced highlight-reel touchdowns.
The first TD came in the opening quarter — a 29-yard yard pass from quarterback Aaron Murray to tight end Arthur Lynch.
After he secured the ball, Lynch prepared to be hit. When that didn't happen — and he realized no one was around him — Lynch had a surprised look on his face but quickly chugged into the end zone untouched with 7:54 remaining in the first quarter.
The next third-down TD was Georgia's last of the game. Flanker Chris Conley was open over the middle on a jailbreak screen on what Murray termed a “full house blitz” by NU. Conley sprinted down the middle of the field untouched for an 87-yard touchdown.
“As soon as he caught the ball, there was no one in sight, and it was off to the races for him,” Murray said. “That was definitely a huge play for us. It was a great catch by him, and he did the rest of the work.”
That touchdown also goes into the Nebraska record book. It was the longest play from scrimmage against the Huskers in a bowl game and also was the third-longest TD pass against NU in school history.
Three of Georgia's other four touchdowns came one play after third-down conversions. The only one that didn't was another big play — a 75-yard strike from Murray to flanker Tavarres King late in the first quarter that put the Bulldogs up 16-14.
Murray said a fair share of the credit for those third-down conversions goes to the preparation players received from Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
“When you have a whole month to prepare, it helps,” Murray said. “We put some new stuff in for Nebraska, but we had 15 practices, tons of walk-throughs and meetings, so we just had to execute.”
Richt said the Bulldogs were determined to prove they are one of the better teams in the country.
“We'd lost our last two bowl games,” he said, “and you get a little tired of that.”
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>> Video: Postgame press conference with NU coach Bo Pelini:
>> Video: Capital One Bowl game highlights:
>> Video: Postgame analysis with Rich Kaipust: