Huskers Wrestle the Gator Bowl

Nebraska 26 Clemson 21

For complete game statistics, click here.

Game thoughts:

  • Roy Helu Jr.’s bell was rung. Although the extent of this injury (and his infected knee) was never mentioned, I’m guessing that in his head he thought he was somewhere not in Florida. Another mysterious sidenote to the game was Marlon Lucky. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether his toe was still bothering him or the coaches looked for a different option. I’m guessing it’s a little of both, and although I’m not his biggest fan, I did feel a little bad for him after all he has been through here. He certainly has put in his time and taken his beatings during his 4 seasons in Lincoln.
  • Quentin Castille’s 18 carries for 125 yards was the difference in the game. Without him, we lose. The only way to move the ball on the speedy defensive front of the Tigers was up the middle. Castille’s north and south power game was the perfect remedy.
  • Clemson’s inept running game is mind boggling. +4 yards with James Davis and CJ Spiller is not acceptable if you are Clemson. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt in that their offensive line might be one of the worst I’ve seen all year, but come on, the coaches have to be able to figure out how to get some sort of running game going with 2 future NFL backs.
  • Joe Ganz isn’t the best quarterback Nebraska has ever seen, but he very well could be the toughest. Whether it was hobbling on a gimpy knee, slamming his head on the turf, or committing 2 costly turnovers that lead to touchdowns, he wasn’t about to let any of that get to him. Joe’s a winner in every way and he couldn’t have dreamt of a more fitting way to go out.
  • If Ndamukong Suh does indeed hold true to his word and return for his senior season, this defense is going to be borderline great next season. Suh’s 2 sacks and blocked field goal were only 3 examples of how much he impacts the game. When half of the offensive line is concerning themselves to his whereabouts at all times, everyone else becomes an All-American.
  • Bo Pelini called a perfect game which allotted Clemson only 210 total yards and just over 25 minutes of ball possession. Gambling on 2 consecutive cornerback blitzes from Eric Hagg while Clemson was heading in for the go-ahead touchdown completely took Clemson by surprise.

Nebraska has improved dramatically in one year under Bo Pelini. After the two losses to Virginia Tech and Missouri, it was easy to assume that we were going to succumb to Texas Tech in the same fashion and then just continue on with the rest of the season in some sort of way lackluster way we have become accustomed to. However, that was not to be. From that day on, you could clearly see that this team was different than any other team under the Callahan era. Players care again. Coaches care again. Players play for the themselves, the coaches, and the fans again. Football is fun again.

To be where Nebraska football is today on January 1, 2009 is something I was willing to wait another year or two for. Call Bo Pelini’s first year a giant success because it was. With success will come bigger expectations and what those expectations are for next year I’ll have to sit on for awhile. I do know this though. It’s great to be both optimistic and realistic when thinking about regaining status as a perennial powerhouse.

Take notice. Nebraska is soon to be the 2009 preseason Big XII North favorites. In the meantime, use this win and go recruit.

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