Sunday, January 1, 2012
Gamecocks go for history vs Cornhuskers
AP Photo/Dave Weaver
The South Carolina Gamecocks are on the verge of making history if they can defeat one of the most storied college football programs in the country, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, in the Capital One Bowl on Monday (1 ET on ESPN).
Nebraska's Rex Burkhead will try to continue his run of success this season in the Capital One Bowl.
South Carolina is looking for the first 11-win season in school history. This is just the second 10-win season in the program’s history, which dates to 1892 (the other was in 1984).
A win would give Nebraska its third straight 10-win season. It would be the first time the Cornhuskers put together three straight 10-win seasons since 1999-2001.
This will be the second time Steve Spurrier has coached against Nebraska. The first time came in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl when the top-ranked Cornhuskers demolished Spurrier’s second-ranked Florida Gators, 62-24, to win the 1995 national championship.
Nebraska is 3-0 all-time against South Carolina with the two most recent meetings coming in 1986 and ’87.
Nebraska Offense vs South Carolina Defense
A deciding factor in the game will be how well the Nebraska offense can hold up against the South Carolina defense, particularly when running the football.
Cornhuskers running back Rex Burkhead has rushed for 1,268 yards this season, third-most in the Big Ten. Nebraska has won all 11 games over the past three seasons when Burkhead has rushed for at least 100 yards, including seven this year.
One of the other things that Nebraska can feel comfortable about is scoring if it gets into field goal range. ‘Huskers kicker Brett Maher is 16-for-16 from inside 50 yards this season, the most makes without a miss in college football this season.
South Carolina Offense vs Nebraska Defense
The Gamecocks lost All-SEC running back Marcus Lattimore to an injury in the middle of October, but hardly missed a beat. They went 6-1 and rushed for 198 yards per game with Lattimore, the SEC’s second-leading rusher at the time of his injury. South Carolina has won four of its five games since then, while still averaging 198 rushing yards per game.
The Gamecocks also lost starting quarterback Stephen Garcia during the season, who was replaced by Connor Shaw. The sophomore performed well at times, but needs to improve his performance away from the comforts of home if South Carolina is to end the season with a victory. Shaw averaged 107 more passing yards per game at home than in his other games this season.
A big reason for his lack of success away from Columbia is the accuracy of his deep ball. Both of his interceptions thrown on passes at least 15 yards down field this season came on the road or at neutral sites, and eighty percent of such throws fell incomplete.
Nebraska's defense this season ranks just seventh in the Big Ten, allowing 22.8 points per game, but the Blackshirts have traditionally dominated this time of year.
The Cornhuskers have won all four bowl games under Bo Pelini -- either as the interim or the full-time head coach -- allowing just 11 points and 88 rush yards per game.