Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 15, 2015

To call Mike Riley?s debut in Lincoln ?bumpy? would be an understatement. His trial run was filled the agony of several close, crushing defeats. There was a loss vs. BYU on a Hail Mary ? there was an overtime setback at Miami (Fla.) that squandered a gutty comeback ? and on it went in a season noteworthy for its soul-ripping losses that ended 5-7.

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But the Cornhuskers get a second chance despite their losing mark thanks to a good team GPA and a lack of bowl eligible teams. Nebraska will face a UCLA team that has suffered its share of heartbreak after a promising 4-0 start that had the Bruins thinking ?playoff? ended in an 8-4 reality.

Here's my Foster Farms Bowl preview:

Player on the spot: DT Maliek Collins. The Cornhuskers figure to score some points vs. UCLA. The key to winning the Foster Farms Bowl will be if Nebraska can slow down the Bruins. To do so, that will mean getting rising star QB Josh Rosen out of his comfort zone. That is where Collins comes in. He?s a big, physical talent who is bound for the NFL.

Best individual matchup: UCLA DT Kenneth Clark vs. Nebraska OT Alex Lewis. Here is hoping they line up across from each other from time to time. Clark was an All-Pac-12 choice, ranking third on the team with 64 tackles while also notching nine TFLs and five sacks. He is an extraordinary tackle who makes plays up field. Lewis earned second-team All-Big Ten mention from the coaches and third team from the media. The guy is a nasty brawler who plays with a defensive attitude.

Best unit matchup: UCLA backfield vs. Nebraska front seven. While QB Josh Rosen draws most of the headlines, RB Paul Perkins is a key cog in the Bruin attack with 1,275 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. And he is averaging 5.2 yards per tote for a ground game that churns out 186.8 yards per game. While Nebraska has had its issues on a number of fronts, stopping the run hasn?t been one of them. The Cornhuskers are No. 8 in the nation vs. the run, yielding 113.4 yards per game on the ground. Credit stud tackle Maliek Collins, who is one of the best in the Big Ten. Fellow tackle Vincent Valentine also is a run-stuffer with surprising athletic ability for his size. That duo also must pressure UCLA QB Josh Rosen, a freshman sensation who has thrown for 3,351 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Key number: 26. That?s how many turnovers Nebraska has committed this year. And, that?s not good. It?s a big reason why the Cornhuskers went 5-7 this season. The 26 turnovers rank 117th in the nation. QB Tommy Armstrong was a major liability in this department, chucking 16 picks. He must use his playmaking skills to take apart a UCLA defense that allowed 393.5 ypg. Armstrong is capable, throwing for 2,856 yard and 21 TDs while also being deadly with his feet. He just must limit mistakes.

Nebraska bowl history: 25-26

1940 Rose Stanford 13-21 L
1954 Orange Duke 7-34 L
1962 Gotham Miami (Fla.) 36-34 W
1963 Orange Auburn 13-7 W
1964 Cotton Arkansas 7-10 L
1965 Orange Alabama 28-39 L
1966 Sugar Alabama 7-34 L
1969 Sun Georgia 45-6 W
1970 Orange LSU 17-12 W
1971 Orange Alabama 38-6 W
1972 Orange Notre Dame 40-6 W
1973 Cotton Texas 19-3 W
1974 Sugar Florida 13-10 W
1975 Fiesta Arizona State 14-17 L
1976 Bluebonnet Texas Tech 27-24 W
1977 Liberty North Carolina 21-17 W
1978 Orange Oklahoma 24-31 L
1979 Cotton Houston 14-17 L
1980 Sun Mississippi State 31-17 W
1981 Orange Clemson 15-22 L
1982 Orange LSU 21-20 W
1983 Orange Miami (Fla.) 30-31 L
1984 Sugar LSU 28-10 W
1985 Fiesta Michigan 23-27 L
1986 Sugar LSU 30-15 W
1987 Fiesta Florida State 28-31 L
1988 Orange Miami (Fla.) 3-23 L
1989 Fiesta Florida State 17-41 L
1990 Citrus Georgia Tech 21-45 L
1991 Orange Miami (Fla.) 0-22 L
1992 Orange Florida State 14-27 L
1993 Orange Florida State 16-18 L
1994 Orange Miami (Fla.) 24-17 W
1995 Fiesta Florida 62-14 W
1996 Orange Virginia Tech 41-21 W
1997 Orange Tennessee 42-17 W
1998 Holiday Arizona 20-23 L
1999 Fiesta Tennessee 31-21 W
2000 Alamo Northwestern 66-17 W
2001 Rose Miami (Fla.) 14-37 L
2002 Independence Mississippi 23-27 L
2003 Alamo Michigan State 17-3 W
2005 Alamo Michigan 32-28 W
2006 Cotton Auburn 14-17 L
2008 Gator Clemson 26-21 W
2009 Holiday Arizona 33-0 W
2010 Holiday Washington 7-19 L
2011 Capital One South Carolina 13-30 L
2012 Capital One Georgia 31-45 L
2013 Gator Georgia 24-19 W
2014 Holiday USC 42-45 L


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