NCF Nation: 2012-Capital-One-Bowl-keys

Let's look at three keys for Nebraska as it takes on South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

1. Establish tempo on offense: When Nebraska's offense operates in high tempo, it's extremely tough to stop. The key is finding that rhythm, and the Huskers will need to be effective with first- and second-down runs. Junior I-back Rex Burkhead needs to pick up positive yards to prevent obvious passing situations, when Gamecocks standout pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney can pin their ears back and go. South Carolina's defense is outstanding against the pass, but the Huskers can attack the Gamecocks on the ground with Burkhead, quarterback Taylor Martinez and others. Nebraska's offensive line has dealt with inexperience and injuries all season. This is the time for the unit to step up.

2. Alfonzo Dennard vs. Alshon Jeffery: The game's best one-on-one matchup pits Nebraska's top cornerback (Dennard) against South Carolina's star wideout (Jeffery). Dennard has shut down standout receivers like Iowa's Marvin McNutt, and he'll need a strong effort against another NFL prospect in Jeffery, who holds South Carolina's career receiving record. Opposing teams often shy away from throwing in Dennard's direction, but South Carolina's Connor Shaw will be looking for Jeffery on Monday. Which Nebraska defense shows up will go a long way toward determining the game's outcome, and the Huskers will lean heavily on Dennard.

3. Win the turnover battle: South Carolina has struggled with giveaways in its bowl losses, while Nebraska committed eight turnovers in its three defeats and just nine others in its other nine contests. If the Huskers can hang onto the football and force a mistake or two from Shaw and the Gamecocks' ball-carriers, they'll be in good shape to pull off the victory. Nebraska senior linebacker Lavonte David has been the defense's top playmaker, recording two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Look for David to set the tone and have a strong performance in his final game as a Husker.

Capital One Bowl: Keys for S. Carolina

January, 1, 2012
1/01/12
12:00
PM ET
A look at three keys to the game for South Carolina in its Capital One Bowl matchup with Nebraska on Monday:

1. Balance on offense: The Gamecocks don’t want to put sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw in a position where he has to throw. Instead, they want to be able to run the ball successfully, use Shaw some in the zone read portion of their running game and then hit some big plays in the passing game. This will likely be junior receiver Alshon Jeffery’s final game in a South Carolina uniform. He needs to be a factor in this game if the Gamecocks are going to win.

2. Force Martinez to throw: There’s a reason Nebraska is ranked 103rd nationally in passing offense. The Cornhuskers would rather run it than throw it. Quarterback Taylor Martinez didn’t throw any interceptions in his final four games, and the Huskers would prefer to throw it no more than 23 to 25 times. He threw it a season-high 37 times in the loss to Northwestern and only completed nine passes two weeks later in the loss to Michigan.

3. Get off to a good start: One of the common denominators for South Carolina in its bowl misery is getting off to slow starts. The Gamecocks would like to change that. Playing with the lead would be nice, especially when your defense is playing as well as the Gamecocks are entering this game.

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