Now that vineyarddawg has told me I should move on, I’m moving on, which brings us to the Georgia Bulldogs’s sixth trip to Orlando and their second meeting with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. We’ll be looking at those five previous bowl trips to Disney World, but, first, we’re going to go back to December 20, 1969, when the ‘Dawgs and the ‘Huskers crossed paths for the first and, to date, only time.
Vince Dooley’s Athenians entered the autumn as the defending Southeastern Conference champions and leapt out to a 5-1 start featuring a trio of shutout victories. Beginning on November 1, however, the Red and Black fell apart, falling to the Tennessee Volunteers by two touchdowns, being tied in Jacksonville by the same Florida Gators who had been skunked by Georgia by a 51-point margin the year before, and dropping decisions to the Auburn Tigers and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by a combined 22-3 score.
In Lincoln, on the other hand, Bob Devaney’s team had charted precisely the opposite course. Nebraska, fresh from back-to-back 6-4 seasons featuring losing records in conference play, opened the 1969 campaign with two losses in the Cornhuskers’ first four games before going on a tear, claiming a share of the Big Eight championship by winning their last six regular-season games to set up a Sun Bowl showdown with the Bulldogs.
A broken scoreboard clock hyperextended a first quarter in which Nebraska, playing with a powerful wind at its back, successfully converted field goal attempts of 32, 37, 42, and 50 yards to build up an 18-0 lead. Though the Bulldogs and the Cornhuskers commonly are thought of as old-school running teams, the combatants between them attempted 70 passes. The Classic City Canines’ 35 aerials produced 18 incompletions, eleven catches, and six interceptions. Two lost Red and Black fumbles added to the Nebraskans’ point production.
A 14-point third quarter enabled the Cornhuskers to build up a 38-0 advantage early in the final period. The Bulldogs, who had been shut out in their season-ender in Atlanta, were determined not to be held scoreless twice in a row, and Paul Gilbert directed a touchdown drive featuring completions of eleven yards to Dennis Hughes and 16 to Charley Whittemore. Gilbert capped off the march with a six-yard scamper into the end zone. Jim McCullough’s extra point try went wide, and Nebraska went on to win by a 45-6 final score.
The postseason victory in El Paso gave the Cornhuskers their first bowl win since the 1964 Orange Bowl and provided Nebraska with its ninth win of the year. That triumph was significant, because 1969 marked the start of 33 consecutive seasons of nine wins or better for the ‘Huskers. The 39-point margin of defeat remains the largest in the Bulldogs’ bowl history.