2009 Gator Bowl Preview and Pick – Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Clemson Tigers

Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4) -2.5, 55 O/U vs. Clemson Tigers (7-5)
Gator Bowl, Jacksonville Stadium, Jacksonville, F.L., Jan 1st, 1:00PM Eastern

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The Gator Bowl features a pair of similar teams from the ACC and the Big 12 in a battle down in the sunshine state of Florida. The Clemson Tigers have been through it all this season falling to big expectations and losing their coach. However, the Tigers bounced back winning 4 of their last 5 games and earning a New Years Day bowl selection. Nebraska had a very similar story starting off strong, but then hitting a mid-season plummet. The Cornhuskers dropped 3 straight games in the month of October before battling back to win 5 of their last 6 contest. One teams late season success will continue when the two teams meet head-to-head.

Clemson was preseason ranked no. 9 in the country and the wheels fell completely off of their bandwagon through the first half of the year. Tigers Head Coach Tommy Bowden stepped down leaving the job to interim coach Dabo Swinney. Swinney would get the opportunity of a life-time and rally the Tigers to win 4 of their last 5 including a big rivalry win over South Carolina. Swinney then received the Head Coaching job at Clemson and he will try to keep impressing his doubters. Clemson really struggled on offense this season ranking in the bottom half of the nation in almost every offensive category. The Tigers defense would be another story as they were the ones that truly propelled the team in the latter part of the year. The defense ranks 10th nationally in overall defense with a quick and strong defensive front. This defense will look to wreak havoc on the Cornhuskers offensive line and try to control the game where it matters most, in the trenches.

Nebraska has one of the better offenses across the nation. The Big 12 is known for producing high octane offenses and Nebraska is no different. The Cornhuskers are ranked 11th in total offense averaging 476 yards per game. The Nebraska offense also sports a top 20 scoring offense that averages 36 points per game. The Cornhuskers were 0-4 this season when they failed to score 30 points or more. Nebraska better hope those numbers change considering putting up 30 points against the Clemson defense will be tough to come by. The Cornhuskers will try to pick apart the Tiger secondary and chew up yards through the air, a task they have achieved all season long.

Intertops Sportsbook has opened the betting line favoring the Clemson Tigers by 2.5 points over the Cornhuskers. Early bettors seem to be favoring the Cornhuskers ATS by a fairly good margin due to their strong passing attack. The over/under for the game has been posted at the 55 point total.

Clemson has quite possibly the best running back duo in the country in tailbacks James Davis and C.J. Spiller. While they may not have huge numbers on paper, dont let that fool you because these two backs can take over a football game. Davis has the power of a fullback while Spiller has the moves to turn nothing into a star studded highlight film. The success of the Tigers will rely heavily on the play of the best two players Spiller and Davis. Together the two have accounted for 18 touchdowns this season and they hope to put up more against the Cornhuskers. Cullen Harper has had a down season compared to his junior campaign, but can still get the job done if he catches rhythm. However if he does not catch rhythm, he could throw a few more interceptions considering he already has 12 on the season. If Clemson can run the ball effectively, dont expect them to throw the ball very often.

Nebraska is led by their strong quarterback in senior Joe Ganz. Ganz has completed nearly 70% of his passes this season while racking up 3,332 yards and 23 touchdowns. Ganz is a very solid quarterback and he will look to expose the Tigers secondary which has been suspect to the passing game this season. Ganz will look to go to wide out Nate Swift early and often against the Tigers. Swift has 60 catches on the season for 909 yards and 9 touchdowns. If Ganz can connect to Swift a few times early, then they could really open up the field and get the Tigers on their hills.

Betting Trends
Nebraska is only 8-15 ATS in their last 23 games while going 5-1 SU in their last 6 games. The Cornhuskers have been on the over total in 4 of their past 5 games. Clemson is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games and also 4-1 SU in those 5 games. The Tigers have gone on the under total in 5 of their past 8 games.

Jays Pick The Clemson defense should make things tough early, points will be scored but mostly in the 2nd half and not over the 55 total. Take the Under 55.