'Twas the week before New Year's and all through the land, all of Huskernation was excited; a bowl game was at hand.
The fans were all excited, a great time was expected, the state of Florida and Clemson awaited, redemption was finally at hand.
The disaster that was Callahan was long since forgotten. For Bo and his staff had worked and sweated, the fruits of their labor were soon to be elated.
The fans were rejoicing, for instead of frozen farmlands, warm weather and beaches were waiting. Two years had passed since a January game had made every fan in Huskernation clap their hands.
For Ganz, Lucky, Swift, and Peterson, a final senior award was theirs to be taken. On Steinkuhler, on Potter, on Turner, on Titchener, on Murtha, on Slauson, and Murillo—a final task is now at hand before they all graduate.
OK, so it isn’t a classic as Clement Clarke Moore wrote in 1822, but I thought it would be a fun thing to try. Now you see that I am definitely not a poet, as if I didn’t already know it (LOL).
So what do we have to look forward to on Jan. 1, 2009? An interesting matchup would be an understatement. Both teams took different paths to reach this game.
Clemson started the season 3-3 before firing Tommy Bowden and finishing up 4-2. Two of those wins included a 17-point beatdown of South Carolina, who had the same 7-5 record, and a six-point win against Boston College in Boston, ending a three-year conference losing streak to the Eagles, as well as six straight overall.
The Tigers were the top rated ACC defense against the pass, giving up only 168 yards per game, and fourth in total defense in the conference, giving up only 294 yards per game and less than 17 points per game.
Offensively they also had their conference’s top ranked passing attack at 219 yards per game and ranked sixth in scoring at 25.5 points per contest. Now it must be stated that at best the ACC was the fifth, maybe sixth-best conference this season.
The Huskers finished up their season on a strong note, going 5-1 down the stretch after starting the season at 3-3. Their only loss in their final six games was a 34-point beatdown at the hands of Oklahoma.
They also lost a heartbreaker to Texas Tech in overtime, 37-31, but like Clemson, the Huskers really didn’t beat a good team this season, except for Kansas by 10 points.
Playing in the best conference in the nation this season, the Big 12, the Huskers finished sixth in passing and total offense in the conference, averaging 285 yards per game passing and scoring 36 points per game.
On the defensive side, they ranked second in pass defense, third in total defense, and sixth in scoring defense, giving up 29 points per game. Where the Huskers dominated was in time of possession, averaging 34 minutes per game (33 minutes and 59 seconds, actually).
This accomplishment ranks as the highest time of possession since the NCAA has been keeping track of this stat, which is 1980. This accomplishment has been critical since the Huskers don’t have great depth on defense, nor do they force turnovers.
The Huskers defended only 740 plays this season, 201 fewer than last season. This hoarding of the ball by the offense has helped the defense make in-game adjustments and kept the shorthanded Blackshirts rested into the fourth quarter.
It has also, of course, worn down the opponent's defense, which has given the Huskers a 100-point difference (152-52) in scoring in the fourth quarter.
Given all this information, I have to give the Huskers an edge in their first ever appearance in the Gator Bowl over a game Clemson Tiger squad. I see the Huskers wining by a 34-27 score, thereby finishing up the season with a 9-4 record and a great springboard towards next season. GBR!