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Nebraska's recipe for success keeps defense off the field

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Bo Pelini has taken Nebraska to 8-4 this season with an underrated element that has kept his team in most games during the second half of the season.

Namely, Pelini has learned that his team's best chance for success comes with keeping his defense off the field.

The Omaha World-Herald came up with several interesting trends for the Cornhuskers' ball-control offense this season.

  • Nebraska held the time of possession edge over 10 of 12 foes, including all eight in Big 12 play. In conference games, the Huskers' time-of-possession average was 36 minutes, 27 seconds, more than 2½ minutes per game better than second-place Texas.

  • The Huskers held the advantage in time of possession in 15 of 16 halves in Big 12 play. They lost the clock edge only in the second half against Oklahoma, a game in which conventional play-calling was abandoned after the Cornhuskers trailed 49-14 at halftime.

  • Nebraska defended only 740 defensive plays in 2008, down 201 from last season.

Such offensive work has been greatly appreciated by Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini.

So what does it mean?

"It's the greatest thing in the world," Carl Pelini told the World-Herald.

An interesting trend can be gleaned by examining the NCAA team statistics. All teams that rank in the top 15 in fewest defensive plays allowed and offensive time of possession have made bowl trips this season.

Here's a look at the seven teams that have accomplished that statistical feat this season, including the Cornhuskers.