Ganz, Nebraska rally past Clemson in Gator Bowl

bowl roundup

QB leads 'Huskers to 26-21 win

Greene lifts Iowa in Outback, will turn pro

January 02, 2009|By From Sun news services

Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz was sprawled out on the ground, trainers huddled around him, teammates, coaches and fans wondering whether he would be able to continue playing yesterday.

Ganz eventually made his way to the sideline, cleared his head, got back in the game and ended up hoisting the Gator Bowl's Most Valuable Player trophy.

His comeback provided an appropriate ending for Nebraska's season. After all, the Cornhuskers enjoyed one of college football's best turnarounds.

Ganz shook off a horrible first half and a slight concussion, threw for two touchdowns and led Nebraska to a 26-21 win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., giving the storied program plenty of optimism after coach Bo Pelini's first season.

"I'm proud of this group," said Pelini, who replaced fired coach Bill Callahan after Nebraska finished 5-7 in 2007. "It's been a tough 12 months, but there's been a lot of hard work by a lot of people and it's paid off. Now, we've got to keep it going."

Nebraska (9-4) ended the season with a four-game winning streak and had success in a January bowl game for the first time in nine years.

Cornhuskers fans, though, might have wanted to run Ganz out of Jacksonville at halftime. The senior had a fumble late in the first half that was returned 28 yards for a touchdown and threw an interception in the final minute that was returned 63 yards and led to another score.

The Tigers (7-6) took a 14-3 lead into the locker room, but Ganz brought Nebraska back with a 20-point third quarter. He also bounced back from that bone-crushing hit. Although Nebraska didn't score a touchdown after his return, Ganz's value was clear when backup Patrick Witt fumbled on his first play.

Clemson picked up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown and a 27-23 lead, but officials overturned the call after review. Ganz was back the next series.

"When I stood up, I got a little dizzy," Ganz said. "My first step was a little crooked. After that, I regained my senses. If I could have played, there was no way they were going to keep me out."

Ganz threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Nate Swift to open the second half, then hooked up with Todd Peterson for a 19-yard score. Both came on third-and-long situations. Ganz completed 10 of 15 passes for 133 yards in the second half and finished 19-for-36 for 236 yards.

Alex Henery kicked four field goals, including three in the second half. Quentin Castille, filling in for injured starter Roy Helu Jr. (knee infection), ran for 125 yards. And Nebraska's defense held Clemson to 91 yards in the second half.

"There were a lot of little plays along the way where we had opportunities and just didn't get it done," Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said.

Iowa 31, South Carolina 10:: All-America running back Shonn Greene figures he's ready for the next level.

After leading the Hawkeyes (9-4) over the Gamecocks (7-6) in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player said he will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

"I don't think there's really a lot more I can do here," Greene said.

Greene ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards in all 13 of Iowa's games and scored in all but one.

Greene finished with school single-season records of 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns after sitting out the 2007 season because of academic problems.

Iowa won for the sixth time in seven games since losing three straight to fall to 3-3. South Carolina lost three straight down the stretch.

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