Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Clemson vs Nebraska Preview and Prediction


Gator Bowl
Clemson vs Nebraska

New Years Day 1PM CBS
Jacksonville, FL

Line: Clemson -2.5

Overview

The Cornhuskers and Tigers will tangle in a rematch of the 1982 Orange Bowl which gave Clemson its first and only national championship. Both teams come into the Gator Bowl on 3 game winning streaks. Also, both Bo Pellini and Dabo Swinney are in their first years as head coaches, but Pellini already has a bowl win under his belt with the 2003 Alamo Bowl as Nebraska’s interim coach.

Keys to the Game:

1. Turnovers

I looked around to see what changed around the time Dabo Swinney became Clemson’s interim coach because that is when Clemson got on the winning track (Dabo went 4-2 as interim coach) and it was turnovers. The Tigers are +5 in turnover margin in their last 5 games, winning 4 of those. In the last 3 games, Clemson is +7. If the Tigers can win the turnover battle, I really like their chances.

2. Style of Play

Anytime you have two contrasting styles, the team that imposes their style usually wins. Nebraska has a very good offense this year ranking 12th in the nation in total offense with 458 ypg, mostly through the air. Clemson has the 14th best defense in total yards and 9th best in points allowed. If this one turns into a shootout, you have to like Nebraska's firepower on offense. But if it is a grinder, then take Clemson.

Motivation

Nebraska has been down as a program the last few years and is hoping this bowl win would be a stepping stone to a return to prominence. While Clemson thought they would be playing in the Orange Bowl or better in 2009, their run down the stretch has to give them confidence and a desire to win for their coach. I think both teams will be ready in this one.

Prediction

While Nebraska’s offense has been better throughout the year, I think Clemson’s offense has improved since Swinney took over. The Tigers defense has remained stiff all year and will be the difference in this one.

Clemson 24 Nebraska 23
Nebraska Covers -2.5

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 18
My confidence ranking of a Clemson win.

Bowls: 3-3 ATS, 3-3 SU
Season: 34-33-3 ATS, 44-26 SU

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