Monday, January 2, 2012
Instant analysis: S. Carolina 30, Nebraska 13
By Chris Low
South Carolina stopped a three-game losing streak in bowl games Monday with a 30-13 victory against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.
Here’s an instant analysis from the game:
How the game was won: South Carolina’s defense clamped down in the second half. In fact, Nebraska went scoreless the last three quarters after putting up 13 points in the first quarter. South Carolina was able to run it just enough (121 yards) to keep the Nebraska defense honest, and sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw kept the Huskers off balance with his ability to run. The Gamecocks also didn't turn it over, while the Huskers had two turnovers.
Turning point: The Gamecocks looked like they had mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half, leaving Shaw with just one play. He heaved it toward the end zone, and the 6-foot-4, 229-pound Alshon Jeffery went up over everybody to catch it and lunge across the goal line for a 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown with no time remaining in the first half. So instead of going into the locker room trailing 13-9, the Gamecocks went in with a 16-13 lead and all the momentum.
Turning point II: The Huskers took the second-half kickoff and drove the ball down to the Gamecocks’ 8-yard line and had it first-and-goal. A motion penalty and a couple of big plays by South Carolina’s defense forced Nebraska to kick a field goal, and Brett Maher’s 35-yard attempt was no good.
Player of the game: Shaw finished 11-of-17 for 230 yards passing with a pair of touchdown passes, and he also rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Unsung hero: Despite being kicked out of the game in the third quarter for fighting with Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, Jeffery caught four passes for 148 yards, including the 51-yard touchdown pass right before the half, in what was likely his final game in a South Carolina uniform. He’s expected to enter the NFL draft.
Stat of the game: Nebraska was held to minus-15 yards in the fourth quarter.
Stat of the game II: South Carolina sacked Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez six times, and four of those sacks came in the fourth quarter.
Record performance: Jeffery had his 12th 100-yard receiving game, breaking the South Carolina school record. He also caught his 23rd career touchdown pass, tying Sidney Rice’s school record.
What it means: South Carolina (11-2) won 11 games in a season for the first time in school history and will likely be a top 10 or top 15 team nationally to start next season. Nebraska (9-4) ended the season by losing three of its last five games. It was also the Huskers’ second straight bowl loss.