With Bo Pelini gone and the Mike Riley era set to begin at Nebraska football following the Holiday Bowl, interim coach Barney Cotton is set to leave his stamp on Cornhusker football for one game.
All eyes will be on the Husker tonight to see how they respond to a 2014 football season that brought hope early in the year, only to see continued disappointments in the big games which led to the firing of Bo Pelini.
The task for 25th ranked Nebraska when they face 24th ranked USC will not be easy. The Trojans (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12) ended their regular season with a 49-14 home win over Notre Dame on Nov. 29. Cody Kessler threw for 372 yards and six touchdowns. As we’ve mentioned, Kessler completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 3,505 yards, 36 TDs and four interceptions, finishing with the nation’s fourth-highest passer rating at 168.8, breaking Mark Sanchez’s school record of 164.6 from 2008.
Are the Huskers pass defense numbers as good as they look on paper? Nebraska finished third nationally with a 100.6 opponents’ passer rating, giving up 12 TDs while coming away with 12 interceptions. However, eight of the 11 FBS teams they faced finished 51st or worst in pass efficiency.
Nebraska is 25-25 in bowl games, including a 2-1 mark in the Holiday Bowl. It lost its last appearance 19-7 against Washington in 2010. USC is 32-16 all-time in bowls, excluding two vacated games, and 8-2 in its last 10.
Kickoff for the Holiday Bowl is set 7 p.m. CT and can be watched on ESPN.