on January 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson’s keys to victory against Nebraska in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl

A look at what Clemson has to do in order to win today’s bowl game against Nebraska

Give him a great birthday present

Clemson running back James Davis will turn 23 years old today, and what better present than to close out a great career with a win over powerhouse Nebraska and as the school’s all-time leading rusher? Davis needs 112 yards to pass Raymond Priester’s mark of 3,966 yards. He also needs two touchdowns to become Clemson’s all-time touchdown maker as well. Look for head coach Dabo Swinney to try and make both of these become a reality in the Gator Bowl. And if Davis is able to put up 112 rushing yards and two scores, then odds are he will get his first birthday wish – a Clemson victory.

Stuff the big boy

Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh has been a wrecking ball for the Cornhuskers’ defense all season. The All-Big 12 tackle recorded 68 tackles, including 15 tackles for a loss and five sacks during the regular season. He recorded 12 tackles, including two sacks in a win against Kansas and intercepted a pass and rumbled 30 yards for a score to seal the Cornhuskers’ win over Colorado to close the season. He has also caught a touchdown pass on offense. It’s easy to see that he might be Nebraska’s most valuable player, so the Tigers must neutralize him as much as possible and use their speed on the edges to take him out of the game. Running up the middle on Suh will not open up if Clemson can’t get anything going out on the edges.

Turn the turnovers

Success is easy to read for Clemson. When the Tigers have caused more turnovers than they have given up, they are 5-0. When they don’t, they are 1-4. Over the last half of the season, few teams were better than Clemson at both. The Tigers’ ball-hawking secondary has recorded 18 interceptions. In the last three games the defense has forced 10 turnovers. The Tigers plus-seven turnover margin has allowed Clemson to end the season with a minus-two ratio in turnover margin, while Nebraska is minus-10. The Cornhusker defense has forced just 15 turnovers this season, while the Tigers have forced 25. This is perhaps the biggest underlying statistic in this game. If the Tigers can keep up the recent trend it closed the regular season with, then it could go a long way in securing what would be a big Clemson victory.

—Will Vandervort