Gamecocks Lead way in Capital One Bowl

January 2, 2012

South Carolina Gamecocks' WR Alshon Jeffery celebrates with teammates after defeating Nebraska 30-13 in the 2012 Capital One Bowl.

ORLANDO, FLA. – Alshon Jeffery, in what might be his final game at South Carolina, caught a hail mary to end the first half, picked up the game’s MVP award, to help the Gamecocks (11-2) defeat the Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-4).

The win secured an 11-win season for the first time in Gamecocks history, and all but assures a finish in the top-10 in the postseason polls.

QB Connor Shaw passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown.

“It is really neat that these seniors can say they played for the best team ever at South Carolina,” said South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier.

Nebraska got the scoring started in the first quarter, with a 30-yard touchdown pass to WR Kenny Bell from QB Taylor Martinez.

The extra point by Brett Maher was blocked and returned for two points by Stephon Gilmore, making a 6-2 Cornhuskers lead.

The Gamecocks followed that up with a touchdown drive of their own, capped off by a one yard run by QB Connor Shaw.

Nebraska countered with a one yard run from Ameer Abdullah out of wildcat formation, to re-take a 13-9 lead.

Then came the fireworks.  On a hail mary, Jeffery caught the ball and dove into the end zone for the touchdown, giving the Gamecocks a 16-13 lead heading to the half.

“The guys didn’t do what they coached to do, period, end of story,” said Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini.

Mid-way through the third quarter, Jeffery and CB Alonzo Dennard got into a fight, resulting in both players being ejected.  Both players are projected to be taken in the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Both Spurrier and Jeffery said that Jeffery did not punch the guy, only shoved.  Spurrier added that Jeffery had never punched a guy before, and probably would not do it.

South Carolina iced the game in the fourth quarter with Kenny Miles’ first two touchdowns of the season.  First a nine yard reception, followed by a three yard run to finish the 30-13 victory.

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Capital One Bowl Preview and Pick: Nebraska vs. South Carolina

January 2, 2012

ORLANDO, FLA. — This year’s Capital One Bowl features the South Carolina Gamecocks, looking for its first 11-win season, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers, aiming for its third consecutive 10-win season.

The keys to this game will be running the ball, and stopping the run.

Nebraska is led by RB Rex Burkhead and QB Taylor Martinez.  Burkhead rushed for 1,268 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011.  Martinez rushed for 837 yards and 9 touchdowns.  Martinez also passed for 1,973 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

For Gamecocks’ fans who may have not followed Martinez, his skills are very much comparable to former QB Stephen Garcia.  Martinez has his great moments, but can also look overwhelmed and make poor decisions.

South Carolina’s rushing attack is much more diverse, since the dismissal of Garcia and the knee injury to Marcus Lattimore.

It starts with QB Connor Shaw, who is the team’s third leading rusher with 483 yards and seven touchdowns.  He passed for 1,218 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Shaw brought consistency to the position following the ups and downs of Garcia.  He is a dual threat quarterback, making great plays running the ball, but surprising opponents with his passing ability.

Both Brandon Wilds and Kenny Miles expect to see time at running back Monday.  Wilds filled in admirably for Lattimore, rushing for 486 yards, but struggled against Clemson and was replaced by Miles.

It has been a banner year for the Gamecocks on defense, but they are without former assistant head coach Ellis Johnson, who is off to be the head coach at Southern Miss.  Seniors Melvin Ingram and Antonio Allen proved to be the key players all season long.

For Nebraska, you don’t have to pull out statistics or list players to talk about the ‘black shirt’ defense.  But for the purpose of looking informed, both Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard have been key members to Bo Pelini’s defense.

This game will come down to who wants it more.  In this scenario, you look to coaching, and the edge goes to Steve Spurrier.  He’s back in the state he has had so much success in, Florida, and is looking to get South Carolina its first 11-win season.

Gamecocks win this one, based on the diversity of its running game.  Expect a big day from Connor Shaw.  Gamecocks 27, Cornhuskers 21