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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Pelini's defenses shows big improvement in postseason games

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini makes no pretense about his work in bowl games and postseason contests.

“I’ve had a lot of success,” Pelini told Nebraska reporters before leaving for Wednesday's Pacific Life Holiday Bowl against Arizona.

And if his defensive statistics are any indication, the Blackshirts have approached those games with intense preparation and production on the field.

The Cornhuskers are 2-1 in postseason games with Pelini. Nebraska has beaten Michigan State in the 2003 Alamo Bowl game and Clemson in the 2009 Gator Bowl. His only loss was a disappointing 13-12 defeat to Texas in the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 5.

Pelini has learned a little about preparation at several stops before becoming a head coach. He was Nebraska's interim coach after Frank Solich was fired after the 2003 regular season. His defense was singed the following season when USC blistered Oklahoma in a 55-19 triumph in the national championship game. And he masterfully led LSU's defense to the BCS title in 2007 shortly after accepting the head job to rebuild Nebraska.

But Pelini's numbers are extremely noticeable defensively in games where he has served as coach, compared against the other regular-season games. And remember that Pelini hasn't done shabbily in those contests with a 17-7 record after two seasons.

To the right is a graph comparing Pelini's defenses during the regular season against those in bowl and championship games when he's been a team's head coach.