THE 2009 PACIFIC LIFE HOLIDAY BOWL
Arizona (8-4) vs. Nebraska (9-4)
The 20th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers defeated the 22nd-ranked Arizona Wildcats 33-0 in the 32nd annual Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. The game was the bowl’s first shutout in its 32-year history.
Leaning on their defense like they had all season, the Huskers got on the scoreboard first as they took advantage of a 37-yard interception by senior safety Matt O’Hanlon. The interception set up a 4-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Zac Lee. The score was the fastest in Holiday Bowl history, as it happened only 75 seconds into the game. O’Hanlon finished as the game’s Defensive MVP.
The Cornhuskers’ defense dominated all night, holding the Wildcats to six first downs, 109 yards of offense, 51 offensive plays and nine punts for the game, all Holiday Bowl records. The Cornhuskers wreaked havoc in the Arizona backfield as they harassed Arizona quarterback Nick Foles all night. Foles finished the game 9-30 for 48 yards and an interception.
The defense forced three straight three-and-outs by the Arizona offense to open the game. After the Huskers took over possession, they drove 31 yards down the field to set up a 47-yard field goal by kicker Alex Henery to increase the lead to 10-0.
In the second quarter, the Cornhuskers turned to their running game, as they put together a seven play, 82-yard drive, capped off by a 5-yard rushing touchdown by running back Rex Burkhead. Six of the seven plays on the drive were rushes, including a 34-yard run by Burkhead to put the Huskers in Arizona territory.
Following another three-and-out by the Wildcats, Nebraska took over the ball at the Arizona 47-yard line and moved the ball forward to set up Alex Henery’s 50-yard field goal. The field goal was Henery’s second of the game and stretched the lead to 20-0. Henery finished the game with a Holiday Bowl record four field goals, from 47, 50, 41 and 22 yards.
The Huskers opened up the second half with an 11-play drive which featured a balanced rushing and passing attack, setting up Henery’s 22-yard field goal. The Huskers defense picked up where it had left off in the first half, limiting the Wildcats’ offense to 17 total yards and one first down in the third quarter.
After being pinned deep in his own territory midway through the third quarter, quarterback Zac Lee launched a 74-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Niles Paul to extend the Cornhusker lead to 33-0. Paul finished the game with 237 all-purpose yards, including 123 yards receiving and a touchdown on his way to earning the game’s Offensive MVP honors.