January 1, 2009 and Nebraska took on the Clemson Tigers at the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. The first half was largely a defensive affair, with a scoreless first quarter seemingly dominated by Clemson's defense. In the second quarter, however, Nebraska showed some pluck, blocking a Tiger field goal.|
Soon after, a play following one where Husker QB Joe Ganz tweaked his ankle, he made a ill-advised pitch that was scooped up and taken for a defenseive TD by Clemson. Nebraska answered with a 48 yard Henery field goal to make the score NU 3, Clemson 7.
The teams then traded interceptions, but Clemson's pick would prove fruitful as it gave the Tigers great field position and two plays later Harper passed to Kelly and Clemson was up 14-3. At the half, NU had more yards than Clemson, 128-119, but the scoreboard told a different story.
Many a game are won due to adjustments at the half, and that was no exception for this game. NU immediately made a nice kick off return by Dennard. Ganz then threw a long pass to Peterson and a few plays later, a nice TD pass to the corner of the end zone that Nate Swift managed to handle and that score made the game 10-14.
NU did have a miscue at the end of the next Clemson series, as a punt was muffed and recovered by the Tigers. Then, Harper made a nice 41 yard pass to Ford and Clemson extended their lead to 10-21. Just about two minutes later NU was back in the game at 17-21, as Peterson caught a 19 yard pass from Ganz. Three TDs between the teams in six game minutes.
NU's defense then started to take over the game- an interception deep in Clemson territory gave NU a good scoring opportunity. No TD, but Nebraska took a 28 yard field goal from Henery to cut the defecit to one at 20-21. Not too much later Ricky Thenarse got a paw on a Clemson punt giving NU great field position. NU couldn't get the TD, but settled for a Henery 28 yard field goal and the lead at 23-21.
In the fourth quarter, Ganz was injured and Patrick Witt came on for a play. He appeared to fumble, but that was overturned and NU retained possession. Then quite a bit of back and forth football before Henery kicked his fourth field goal of the game with 5:20 left, putting NU up by five at 26-21.
Clemson would threaten, but NU's Blackshirts came through with flying colors and the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl victory gave Bo Pelini his 9th win in his first full season as coach and give Nebraska great momentum going into the 2009 season.