5 Gator Bowl Myths

While the game is still more than three weeks away, it's never too early to start analyzing what to expect. CUTigers.com begins its Konica Minolta Gator Bowl coverage by taking a look at five myths surrounding the game itself, Jacksonville and the mindset of the Clemson football team.

5. Expect nothing but warm weather in Jacksonville.
Hey- it's Florida, it has to be warm, right? Wrong. It's actually north Florida and Jacksonville weather in early January can be all across the board - from borderline warm to downright cold. Clemson's last trip to Florida's First Coast in Jan. 2001 against Virginia Tech was more of the downright cold variety than anything else. Last year fans from Virginia and Texas Tech woke up to a low of 42 degrees before temperatures climbed to 67 by the end of the day. The year before saw the high temperature reach 78 degrees with a low of just 60. What will it be like Jan. 1, 2009? Your guess is as good as mine but chances are at least the start of the game could be on the cool side.

4. This should be a low-scoring, defensive struggle.
It's Clemson-Nebraska, so naturally fans probably tend to think about defense first, right? Again- wrong. Nebraska actually ranks 66th in the nation in total defense entering this game and 90th in passing defense. Part of that is due to the fact the Cornhuskers play in the pass-happy Big 12, but part of that is due to the fact their defense isn't nearly as good as what it was five or 10 years ago. Consider this - Nebraska won four of its last five games this year but gave up an average of 35 points in each of those contests. Clemson comes in with a much more stingy unit- ranking 17th in the nation overall, but then again the Tigers didn't play in the Big 12 this year either did they?

3. Nebraska is too far away to expect a large Cornhusker turnout.
Long time college football fans know despite the fact Nebraska sits in the middle of the country, Husker fans travel anywhere there team goes and that holds true especially for bowl games in Florida. Just 3,000 tickets remain from the almost 12,000 alloted to the Big Red Machine and all indications are those could be gone by the end of the week. In fact, early reports suggest that almost 70,000 tickets have already been sold for this game already - meaning attendance will remind fans of a BCS game more than anything else.

2. The Tigers are just happy to be in a bowl game.
Dabo Swinney has been somewhat more aggressive than Tommy Bowden used to be in regards to the postseason, suggesting several times within the last 10 days his team needs to win the game. Sure, Bowden always wanted to win but Swinney has already created a more stern tone surrounding Clemson's postseason trip. While a late season run which saw the Tigers win their last three games of the year just to become bowl-eligible may give fans a fortunate feeling, the team feels anything but and is going not only to win, but to also set the tone for spring practice and the 2009 season.

1. With new coaches, Clemson could look drastically different in this game.
Sure, Clemson's coaching staff will look somewhat different for this game, especially with the departure of defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. In addition, Danny Pearman has also been hired as an offensive assistant and should begin coaching this week, as will Charlie Harbison, Clemson's new secondary coach. (Woody McCorvey has also been hired as an administrative assistant before the bowl game.) So will we see massive changes on both sides of the ball? Probably not. Yes the new coaches will bring in new ideas and philosophies, but Swinney has made it a point his seniors will not be learning an entirely new system for the last game of their Clemson careers. Expect some wrinkles on both sides of the ball, but the scheme and game plan you've seen since Oct. 13 should be essentially what you see in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.

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