You never know if a play early in the game, like the safety that Georgia scored against Nebraska on Tuesday, will end up coming back to haunt you later. The safety could have been a touchdown, as Georgia blocked a Nebraska punt and no fewer than five Bulldogs tried to get a handle on the ball before it slid out of bounds. Instead of 14-0, it was 9-0, and that would seem important for a long time.
After all, it didn't take long for the Cornhuskers to storm back to a 14-9 lead, then follow up a couple of Georgia scores with a 24-23 halftime lead. That would grow to 31-23 shortly before the halfway point of the third quarter. Five points suddenly looked like a pretty big swing.
The Bulldogs spent the rest of the game making sure it didn't matter. Aaron Murray hit Chris Conley on a 49-yard touchdown strike, then threw a 24-yard score to Keith Marshall and another 87-yarder to Conley in a 22-point romp that took the Dawgs from trailing to coasting. In all, Georgia would crank out 589 yards of total offense, and Murray threw for an eye-popping 427 yards and five touchdowns against two interceptions. Todd Gurley tacked on 125 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.
It was the 12th win for Georgia on the season, giving Mark Richt 22 victories over the last two years and making the entire "hot seat" discussion from before then ridiculous. Was Richt in real danger at some point? Probably. But he's pretty convincingly shown that what happened in 2009 and 2010 was a speed bump in an otherwise sterling career, not the beginning of the game passing him by.
And just like that, the last of the questions that anyone had about the Bulldogs was gone. They've beaten two ranked teams on the year, including a division champion from another AQ conference, and came close to upsetting Alabama in the Georgia Dome. If last year was the season that Georgia stabilized itself by beating the teams it should have, this year was the year the team proved it still deserves to be thought of as elite. The Capital One Bowl win didn't prove that on its own, but it was the exclamation point.