Gator Bowl preview: Nebraska (8-4) vs. Clemson (7-5)

January, 1, 2009
1/01/09
9:27
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Who to watch: Joe Ganz has quietly developed into the most prolific quarterback in Nebraska history, breaking the school passing record and leading Nebraska to at least 30 points in 13 of his 15 career starts. That explosiveness has been the key to the Cornhuskers' 8-4 season and a big reason for their fast finish in Bo Pelini's first season. Ganz has one more big statistical achievement in front of him, as the school's career and single-season marks for touchdown passes currently held by Zac Taylor are breakable if he can throw four TD strikes today. But he'll be challenged by a salty Clemson defense that ranks 10th nationally against the pass and ninth in scoring defense this season.

What to watch: It will be important for the Cornhuskers to utilize the same formula that helped them down the stretch to finish the season with five victories in their final six games. Nebraska did a nice job of dictating time of possession to keep its defense off the field when it was most successful. The same strategy will be important today against a Clemson team that will challenge them with a fast and experienced defense and an opportunistic secondary that produced 18 interceptions.

Why to watch: The Cornhuskers are back playing on New Year's Day and will be facing an old-school opponent in a bowl matchup that settled a national championship in the 1982 Orange Bowl. The two teams aren't quite at that level -- yet -- but could be poised for a big return under new coaches Bo Pelini and Dabo Swinney in the future. Today might serve to kick-start both teams' hopes of contending for a conference championship next season and beyond.

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