Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
January 1, 2009, 1:00pm Eastern
Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4) vs. Clemson Tigers (7-5)
Play-by-Play: Craig Bolerjack
Color Commentators: Dan Fouts and Steve Beuerlein
Let me say from the start that what head coach Bo Pelini has done with Nebraska in his first year at the helm is impressive. He took a 5-7 Nebraska team and added three wins, including victories over Kansas and Kansas State.
I’ve got quite a bit of respect for the Nebraska football program. They’ve been in a down cycle for an awful long time, but the Big 12 Conference is better off having them be a national contender out of the North Division.
And their fans are truly the most knowledgeable, respectable fans I’ve seen. I really love when they come to Austin to play.
It doesn’t hurt that the Longhorns have, well, owned the Cornhuskers for the last dozen years or so.
Losses this year included Virginia Tech, Missouri, Texas Tech (in overtime) and Oklahoma. All but the last one were quite respectable. The Sooners definitely took them to the woodshed, although they did hang four touchdowns on the land thieves.
Clemson’s year hasn’t been quite so pleasant. Head coach Tommy Bowden was shown the door October 13th after a 3-3 start. Many Clemson fans desperately wanted Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as their new head coach, but Muschamp said he would rather stay in a coordinator role at Texas than become head coach at Clemson. Don’t feel too bad, Clemson fans, at least you had the guts to ask the prettiest girl in school to dance. The pain of rejection will fade with time.
The Tigers’ best wins came against Boston College and South Carolina. Losses came from Alabama, Maryland, Wake Forest, and Florida State.
Both teams ended the season with some momentum, and a win tomorrow would do a lot to carry that momentum over to the 2009 season. I expect both teams to come out really wanting to win.
The most interesting match-up will be between the Nebraska offense and the Clemson defense. Looking at the numbers, both seem strong.
All season long, people have wondered whether the offenses of the Big 12 Conference were really that good, or if the defenses were just that bad. This game will certainly help answer that question.
My feeling is that it’s some of both. Look for a lower scoring game than what we’ve seen from the Big 12 for most of the season, but it will be far from a defensive struggle.
Clemson’s biggest problem this year has been turnovers. If they gift wrap the ball a few times for Nebraska, it could get out of hand quickly.
It’s not easy to make a prediction on this game. Whoever comes out with focused intensity and is able to play hard, mistake free ball should win. I believe Pelini will make sure that it’s the Cornhuskers that come through, but it’s going to be close.
Prediction: Nebraska 27, Clemson 20