The Gator Bowl as a Springboard

It's easy to have mixed emotions where the Gator Bowl is concerned.  On the one hand, it's one of the oldest bowl games and is played on New Year's Day.   On the other hand, it's always been at best a second-tier bowl.  Perhaps it's greatest value is how it sets a team up for the coming year. 


Bo's Gator Bowl

Bo Pelini's best season at Nebraska was probably 2009.  His team lost a slugfest against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg by a point.  Then avenged two years of ugly defeats to Missouri with a fourth-quarter explosion to win 27-12.  That was followed by a flat outing against Texas Tech and a turnover-fest loss to Iowa State.  From there, the team finally got rolling.  The big win came over visiting Oklahoma after an embarrasment in Norman the prior year.  He had #3 Texas on the ropes in the Big 12 championship game, before an extra second allowed the Longhorns to escape with a long field goal to win by a point.  The 33-0 trouncing of Arizona (led by Nick Foles) put Nebraska at 14th in the nation.  That season came on the heels of a Gator Bowl victory over Clemson after the 2008 season.

Recent Gator History

When  you say "Ohio State" and "Gator Bowl" most people recall Woody Hayes' meltdown where he punched a Clemson player.  More recently though, the Buckeyes played there after the 2011 season.  What followed was a 12-0 year under coach Urban Meyer.  The prior year Michigan appeared in the game  and what followed was a BCS bowl in Brady Hoke's first season.  The year before saw Florida State in the Gator Bowl which led to a division crown the next season.  Two years prior to that West Virginia appeared in the game and followed it up with an 11-2 season.

That's not to say a Gator Bowl appearance guarantees a great season.  Look no further than this year's Northwestern team.  Still, there are numerous examples of teams that used the game as a springboard to better things.  Let's hope that's the case for Nebraska in 2014.

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Comments 41 comments so far

You are asking or dreaming for a big christmas gift!

If NU has a well coached and well prepared team on Jan 1st, they should win the game.  D has ability to stop Georgia.  Offense has the capability to move the ball and take some time off clock if Beck doesn’t wander off into the proverbial “left field”.  NU’s inconsistency is the “X” factor.

With the return of a (mostly) healthy team, Nebraska should do well.  Armstrong should do better in this game, as he has some experience under his belt.  He will have three healthy wide receivers to throw to, and with a great backfield behind him, running the ball shouldn’t be a problem.

The young defense has matured and played well in the latter part of the season.  When the offense doesn’t give the opposing team the ball deep in our territory numerous times, the defense did well.  Michigan’s offense put up 603 yards on Ohio State’s defense, but only 175 on the Blackshirts.

The team is well coached and the play calling has been good.  Coach Beck’s calls against Michigan State were spot on, and his offense ran all over MSU’s defense.  If not for lack of execution (5 turnovers) that game would have ended with a victory for Nebraska.

dwain van houten, ask and you shall receive, the law of attraction!

GBR Think positive!!!

Word is that Bo Pelini is getting his rodent teeth sharpened for the TAX SLAYER.COM GATOR BOWL.

Bo Pelini is gone after the bowl game.

New Yorker, some of what you suggest is true.  However, I don’t believe the players called the fake punt in the third Q against MS.  That is on Bo’s shoulders.  Also, his 15 penalty for antics on the sideline cost the team yards.  That tends to take the edge off of what you describe as a “well coached” team.

For OU7Times, while I realize you dream of sugar plums dancing on BOP’s head, and that he will be fired after New Years, but don’t count on it, especially if he wins the game, which is a real possibility.  The NU players sense uncertainty, and if they love BOP as much as they claim, they will more than likely come through with a strong performance.  College football outcomes are governed by emotional highs and lows.  You’ll have that factor in NU’s game with Georgia.  Unless NU shoots itself in the foot (seems like a possibility any more) Georgia won’t be motivated like NU will be to win game.

You could very well be correct.

How is the recruiting going in Norman? Have the Sooners been able to lure anyone away from Austin?


This years recruiting has slipped. That’s what I read last week. We are excited about spring practice though. There’s supposedly the next Sam Bradford waiting to win the starting QB battle. This kid’s name is Justice Hansen. He looks good on film. I think the team will be in fine shape next year.

I’m hoping they acquit themselves well against Bama. Saban does such an incredible job getting his kids ready for bowl games. That would be a sweet win for the Sooners if they could pull it off.

Pitting #11 angainst #3 is nutty, but there is always a chance the guys can pull it out. Like I said before the OSU game, stranger things have happened.  It will be hard fought and I am hoping OU can rush McCarron.


The fake punt was in the Iowa game, not Michigan State as you list.  As for the 15 yard penalty, arguing a horrible call is not bad. However, putting up 392 yards on the #1 defense and having a 123 rusher is indicative of a well coached team.  If the best you can come up with is a 15 yard penalty and a fake punt from the wrong game, then maybe you’re just a little too biased against Coach Pelini.  Not too many other coaches could have had as good a year as he did with all the injuries and adversity concerning the animosity toward him and his all-conference quarterback.  Yes, this is a well-coached team.


That fake punt was definitely an option punt as we ran it for the two games prior as well.. The punter made a mis-read and the coach took credit for it..

So technically yes the coach called for the option, as we did every punt for 3 or 4 straight games, but the kid screwed it up..

AS for the Michigan State game, As much as you might have been right on other games. WE OUTCOACHED THEM THAT NIGHT.. Players just couldn’t hold onto the ball.. That was one game were we had the better plan, made the better adjustments and turnovers cost us.. You could definitely blame some of our offensive game calling on some other loses but that game was not one..

And maybe the kid was trying to hard.. Probably trying to play to save his coaches job.. Too much pressure , and yes us as fans cause that .. SO in otherwords you could blame yourself for that .. Bad fan

And now Georgia’s safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and cornerback Sheldon Dawson are suspended.  Me thinks we both run and pass against this team, if the QB can find the right targets.

Myu apologies for confusing the fake punt call with MS rather than the Iowa game.  One tends to have blurred memory vision when the balls, the calls, and the abundance of chaos on the field and the sidelines is plenty bountiful!!!  My bad.

For those who placed money on Georgia, be prepared to lose that bet.  I don’t know what the current line is, but those who bet early should be quite nervous right now.

For OU7Times,  me thinks the Sooners have a decent shot at Bama.  What worries me is that your boys, for reasons I cannot understand, seem to be flat when bowl game time comes around.  Must be something in the water down there.

NU needs this win against Georgia as much as any team playing this holiday season.  The fallout if NU loses will place a heavy burden on all responsible for the program in Lincoln.  If NU wins, it will take the monkey off folks’ back (please note plural possessive) since it isn’t just Pelini on the proverbial “hot seat”.  Many can validly argue Echorst correctly handled the Pelini uproar for now, especially if Bo wins this Georgia game.  A win sets the program up for a more upbeat Spring practice and ball game.

I don’t know, nor do I hear much, about the weight and conditioning program at NU.  For all the years NU had Boyd Epply running the muscle and bulk program, NU developed an excellent reputation for having beasts on the field and a 4th Q fearsome beat down reputation.  It appears that part of the program is adequate and perhaps in good shape itself, relatively speaking.  Line injuries in the trenches does make one ask if the big boys are up to the grind.

Avoiding game day mistakes NU has experienced will help keep the coaches from feeling desperate and trying unnecessary plays like fake punts, or blowing one’s lid off on the sidelines.  As a life-long NU football fan, I will say a prayer for the team and for some reason, I am feelin’ good about this one.  Georgia can take its punk arse SEC wholier-than-thou attitude and shove it where the sun don’t shine!


Someone above says, ” The team is well coached and the play calling has been good “. Errrrrr….....Ughhhhhhhhh…....Are we talking about Nebraska or Auburn here???

Spling into action!

The fact that it’s the Gator Bowl doesn’t really matter, though we make less $.  The fact that it’s SEC, GA matters.  If we win it’s a huge boost.  We need this win.

You don’t call a fake punt on your own 25 with the game still very much in doubt.  In fact, I cant think of any time it’s a good idea to call a fake punt deep in your own territory, period.  Bad call no matter how you slice it and pretty much shifted the momentum of the game completely to Lolwa from then on—i.e., game over.

Triumph and others correct.  Nutty call for coach to make that day to do fake punt, especially after Iowa called time out.  Ding Dong!!!  No one’s home!  Others above who claim the problem was execution versus the decision to try a fake punt may be drinking too much Kool Aide.  Certain risks you simply don’t take when the game is still in play.  For whatever reasons that Saturday in Lincoln against Iowa, NU folks just were not in sinc.  That includes coach Pelini despite those who are in a state of denial in that regard.

If by ‘poor execution’ it is meant that Lolwa completely blew it up and it had no chance from the get go, yea was ‘poor execution’.

Yeah, calling a fake punt deep in your own territory is never a good idea.  Look at Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl on 12/26/13:  Fourth down and 1 yard to go on their own 24 yard line in the third quarter with Utah State leading 13-7.  A five-yard “delay of game” penalty made it 4 down and 6 yards to go on their own 19 yard line.  Coach called a fake punt.  Ding Dong!!!  No one’s home, right?  Nope.  They got the first down.  That “Nutty Call” paid off.  It’s always a gamble to call a fake punt.  Especially on your own 19 yard line and only down by 6 points in the third quarter.  Sometimes it pays off.


Uh, NIU, uhm, you know, lost the game, last I checked.  An I wouldnt have called a fake punt deep in one’s own territory in that situation either.  In gact, I would never call a fake punt on one’s own side of the field unless under more or less dire circumstances.  Also, unlike Nebraska, I would never have the punter or the up guy try and RUN for 4th and 12 on our our 25 or whatever it was, while the game is still in doubt, against Lolwa who, if they had done the scouting report, uhm, has a GREAT rush D.  I dunno, just my way of thinking.  It’s amazing he didnt fumble, that would have been the icing on the cake.  Yea, I’m still pissed about the Lolwa game and also, after watching Minny look like a buncha incompetant punks vs a 6-6 Cuse team today, I am wondering how they looked like the world beaters against us.  The more I think about it the more I thin we have serious issues, but I’m trying to remain ‘upbeat’ as it were, as there is little choice and I actually DO think our D could be good down the road.

Didnt BOP have Donovan Vestal try and hoof it on a fake punt vs UCLA or something? At least come up with a better play—like a pass to Eric Crouch or something fun and creative like that and has a chance to work.

Also, NIU and Lynch are completely overrated and have been overrated for the last 2 years and I am sick and tired of them and other little guy teams from little guy conferences taking up valuable space in the polls just cuz they run the table vs other lesser little guys.  Lynch wont make in in the NFL, no way—pretender.

NIU,k like Bowling Green, oh yea, real tough guys until they run up against ANY team—6-6, 5-7, 8-4, whatever—outside their little league conference, well, basically get their asses kicked, BG by Pittsburgh for god’s sake.  What a joke.

Triumph Dogg,

Taking risks is part of the game.  The fake punt worked in NIU’s favor.  It was a “gutsy call.”  That’s the point.

Iowa won the game against Nebraska’s second and third string.  Without looking this information up, tell me who Iowa’s third string QB is.  Bet you can’t.  I can’t even tell you who the second string QB of Iowa is without looking at their roster.  If their second and third string was playing ours, it would have been a crushing defeat for them.  Especially if our starters were playing their backups.  It took a very badly injured Nebraska team to give Iowa a chance to win that game.  What I find amazing is how the sports world thinks Kirk Ferentz is a good coach.  They call Iowa’s 8-4 season an “amazing turnaround,” yet fail to mention that the head coach of last year’s 4-8 team was Kirk Ferentz.  He had to “turnaround” his own failure.  This is his fifteenth season with no Rose Bowl appearance.  A 64-55 record in the B1G.  Yeah, he’s a great coach.  If Nebraska’s starting team was healthy and played that game, it would have been a four touchdown win for Nebraska.  Against Iowa’s backups, it would have been a six touchdown win.

Syracuse is a good team.  They showed that against Minnesota.  They played physical ball and never quit.

Michigan is playing without Devin Gardner tonight.  If we apply the same measuring stick to Michigan that is applied to Nebraska, it shouldn’t matter who’s starting.  When Kansas State’s defense crushes Michigan, we shouldn’t hear about Gardner being out and a second string QB playing.  But we will.

Pelini’s second and third string players did a great job this year.  When one thinks about teams like Michigan State and Ohio State, and wonders how they would do with their third string QBs playing behind a depleted O-Line, one can see what a great job Pelini did.  Ohio State wouldn’t have won too many games without Miller or Guiton behind center, especially behind the backups on the O-Line.  And Michigan State?  Please.  They would have been crushed under the same circumstances.

Coach Pelini may be the only B1G coach to win his bowl game this year.  Iowa is picked to lose, and playing a talented LSU team.  Sure, LSU’s QB is out, but they’ll probably still beat Iowa.  Michigan State is picked to lose, and this is the most physical defense they will see all year.  Let’s see how Langford and Cook do against them.  Ohio State’s defense may just be run over by Clemson.  South Carolina can beat Wisconsin.  Michigan will most likely lose tonight, and Minnesota already did.

If Nebraska beats Georgia, and they probably will, Coach Pelini may be the only B1G coach to win his bowl game.  Imagine that.  Sure, you can come up with some of your clever little comments that you like to use (i.e. lolwa) and try to diminish this, but you won’t be able to diminish the fact that Coach Pelini is the only B1G coach to win his bowl game if in fact it plays out that way.

Sure, Ohio State could win.  But Clemson’s offense is better than Michigan’s, and they put up 603 yards and 41 points on OSU.  Michigan State put up 438 yards and 34 points and beat OSU the following week.  There’s a very good chance that Clemson wins this one.

Michigan State has been gashed by the run when playing against teams with good running backs.  Nebraska had no problem moving the ball against them, putting up 392 yards of offense, and Ohio State rushed for yards!  Stanford’s Gaffney had 1,618 yards on the year.  They’ll be able to run the ball on MSU.  Stanford should and probably will win this one.

One thing’s for sure. It’ll be interesting to see what all the Haterade drinkers say if this does happen.

How many (yards!) did Ohio State amass rushing against Michigan State?  Why, 273, that’s how many.  Miller had 142 and Hyde had 118.  Too bad Ohio State’s defense was exposed for the not so “stellar” defense that it is.

I like the idea of playing to win.  Bad play calls are only bad when they fail, when they succeed they’re considered brilliant. Go figure,
Fake punts, passes from a running back to a QB, fumblerooskies, etc sometimes win games, sometimes not.  Lots of things can happen when a QB throws a pass, or a punter kicks a football away, most of them are bad.  Keeping a football away from an opponent and in our hands is always the best strategy, we can’t score without the ball and our opponents can.


Yea, bad things can happen on a fake punt on your own 25 too, as in, they stuff it and get the ball anyway.  Better to have punted it and pinned em deep and play FIELD POSITION, you know, that elusive thing we never take advantage of.

Also, when’s the last time you saw Oz do a fumblerooski or any overtly trickeration on his side of the field—yea, never.  Hey, remebr that fake FG BOP tired against Puffs a few years back—yea, pick 6 for them the other way, nearly cost us that game. 

If and when BOP proves he can pull off an effective trick play, I say pull the trigger, but howsa bout do the trial and error thing, like, deep on their 30 or less, so as to make it just ‘risky’ and not outright insane?


I think you’re pumping the ‘we were playing at a disadvantage’ card a bit too ,much in the Minny and Lolwa games.  No indication our 1st stringers, say Taylor in particular, wouldnt have botched those games too, oh wait, he played vs Minny, go fig.

Cuse got routed by Northwestern, the same NW that had only 1 conference win this year, yea Cuse is a force to contend with.  Moral of the story:  Minny wasnt that good and we should have beaten them—with our 2-3 stringers.  Thats why we are sposed to be Nebraska, but it aint like that anymore.


You’re minimizing the disadvantage “card” against Iowa-big time.  Starting a third string QB with a depleted O-line is a big deal. It’s there whether you can’t see it or won’t see it.

Minnesota is a better team than you give them credit for.  Much better.  Martinez was playing hurt against Minnesota, and Spencer Long was out as well.  Nothing compared to the injury problems against Iowa or MSU, though.  Nebraska still had an opportunity to beat Minnesota.

The arrogance in thinking that “We’re supposed to be Nebraska” and just run over teams in this day and age has no place.  This isn’t your grand pappy’s Huskers; and they aren’t your grand pappy’s Golden Gophers.  Nebraska is a good team, and should expect to win, but the days of teams just rolling over and playing dead at the sound of the “Nebraska” name are over.  There is greater parity in college football today.

Mitch Leidner:  RS Frosh
Phillip Nelson:  Soph
Taylor Martinez:  Senior

And, I rest my case.

Hell, I haven’t seen a Fumblerooskie for 10 years, and Grandpa didn’t even have a TV to watch anything.  Besides, he was a Gopher and Viking fan.  One thing’s for sure, NU will play the Bulldogs and time will tell whether we have a game plan or even the talent available to defeat them, or not.
I hope we do. GBR

Sorry your grandpa was too poor to afford a TV to watch anything.  Probably a good thing seeing as he is a Gopher Vikings fan, though.

He wasn’t too poor, neither was I….there wasn’t any TV back in those days. We all sat around a huge radio and listened to the war news or whatever.  Theatres had some news clips before the feature, but until the middle 1940s there was no TV.  People were a hell of a lot smarter in those days as well , They read newspapers, planted gardens and canned their own food, dicussed current events and other things around the dinner table, most even wrote letters to each other to stay in touch, etc.  I suspect that would be hard for you to imagine.  Of course bullies were handled up close and personal in parking lots, which made most people a heck of a lot more careful of who they offended.  We were also Great football fans.  GBR

No, it’s not hard for me to imagine.  I wonder why you mentioned how bullies were handled back then.  It’s the same way now, although you may not know that because I’m sure you backed down.

Funny how you like to make little comments, but don’t like it when they are returned to you.

Thanks for the history lesson.  Obviously you were born decades before me if you didn’t have a TV because there weren’t any.  Perhaps you should go back to school.  If you think people were smarter back then, then you have a lot to learn.

Maybe you should read what you wrote about being careful of offending people.  Or, as my generation says: “Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing.”  You probably don’t understand what that means, so I’ll explain.  Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

NY Your penchant for Ghetto-speak says volumes about your personality and inability to express yourself appropriately in a quasi social discussion group.  You have a nice New Years and be sure to watch the Gator Bowl .  GBR


Your pseudo-intellectual attempt at diagnosing personality traits only belies your ignorance in the field.  But, it does reveal much about your personality.  While you’re looking up some of the words that I’m sure you don’t understand, look this one up as well:  Projection. Have a nice day.

Hey New Yorker ~ Check out ‘narcissist’.  Have a nice day.

Psychological projection….Looks like just another Fruedian concept to me.  I’m more of a Carl Jung follower myself, he doesn’t put people into one size fits all little boxes like Siggy.  Still, I hope you’re correct about the Gator Bowl victory. GBR

Captain Bly, Admiral, NU Realista, Tom Cudd, etc…

Hope you fellers have a real safe New Years, have a plan, and enjoy your game.

Going to watch Scott Frost’s boys do their thing tonight.

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