GRADES: Tough Loss Ends Season

JACKSONVILLE - After jumping out to an early 14-3 lead, it seemed like everything was going Clemson's way. Unfortunately the Cornhuskers didn't want to cooperate.

The offense was hampered all day by inconsistent play on the offensive line, which made it hard to consistently string long drives together. Still, at the end of the game the Tigers were at the 10-yard line, first and goal with a chance to win. A 17-yard sack an incompletion that went off the hands of C.J. Spiller in the end zone pretty much ended the game. There seem to be a large number of screen passes called, which was probably due to the poor play of the line, but even some of those backfired as Jacoby Ford and Aaron Kelly each dropped short passes. Cullen Harper also struggled by holding on to the ball to long as well. The lack of a run game (five yards rushing compared to Nebraska's 125) was the final nail in the coffin for the offense, which barely gets a passing grade.

In the first half, the defense was as dominant as it had been all season long, limiting the Huskers to just three points- and even that wasn't easy as it came via a 48-yard field goal. The second half was an entirely different story as Nebraska took the opening kickoff and went 54 yards in just five plays to pull within 14-10, and it was all downhill after that. The Tigers would give up 23 second half points in the loss, but credit the defense for holding the Cornhuskers to four field goals, including one after a blocked punt and another after an interception deep in Clemson territory. Also, yhe 28-yard fumble return for a touchdown by DeAndre McDaniel was spectacular and Crezdon Butler's long interception return at the end of the first half was brilliant. Overall a solid effort, but the inability to bring down Joe Ganz once compared to Nebraska's five sacks was big.

A blocked 20-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter proved costly, as did a blocked punt. The return game was solid in the first half, but mostly disappeared in the second. Byron Maxwell is quickly emerging as one of the top kick cover specialists in the ACC, if not the nation. But at the end of they day, the two blocked kicks result in a failing grade.

The Tigers appeared to be ready to play, but the offensive play calling did appear stagnant at times, but much of that was, again, due to poor play on the offensive line. Opening the game with a trick play was gimmicky, as Nebraska seemed to be waiting on it. Missed tackles in the backfield also hurt Clemson's defense. Not a bad effort, but not great either.

Nebraska is a good, but not a great team. The outcome could have gone either way but credit the Huskers for making one or two more plays to pull off the victory. In particular, the play of Nebraska's front seven against Clemson's offensive line proved to a be a huge advantage. While the loss is disappointing, the Tigers played with emotion and had their opportunities to win the game. Top Stories