2012 Bowl Prediction: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
Where: Florida Citrus Bowl; Orlando, FL
When: Mon. Jan 2. 1 p.m. EST
Watch: ESPN, ESPN 3D, ESPN3
Listen: KLIN 1400 AM, KFGE 98.1 FM, KBBK 107.3 FM Nebraska; WNKT 107.5 FM South Carolina
Two teams that had very high expectations coming into this season, but they were dashed in one way or another. This game will be a huge point of redemption for the winner.
Betting Line (via bovada.com): South Carolina -3
It would be fair to say that both the Nebraska Cornhuskers and South Carolina Gamecocks have had disappointing seasons, especially considering the expectations.
The Cornhuskers entered into their first year in the Big Ten, and many thought that they would dominate the inferior opposition.
Instead they enter the Capital One Bowl at 9-3 with a disappointing 5-3 Big Ten record.
Many figured that the Gamecocks would not only challenge the SEC this season, but they would challenge for the national championship.
With wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, running back Marcus Lattimore and senior quarterback Stephen Garcia leading the way, their offense looked to be one of the best in the nation.
The Gamecocks enter this game at a disappointing 10-2.
There's still a lot at stake for both teams though, as the winner will at least be able to cap this season off on a positive note.
What It Means For Nebraska
With teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State running the Big Ten right now and Ohio State and Michigan back on the rise, this game means everything for Nebraska.
They need to come out and dominate their SEC opponent or else they will go into next year as a middle of the pack Big Ten team.
That's not what anybody expected for this program entering the Big Ten.
What It Means For South Carolina
I've said it a few times, but it remains true. This Gamecocks team was supposed to challenge for the BCS championship this season, but they had far too many distractions and injuries.
This will be a great chance for the team to get a win and put a positive spin on an otherwise disappointing season.
What They're Saying
Many wonder how Nebraska's defense will hold up after defensive coordinator Carl Pelini left for the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic. Brian Bennett of ESPN.com reports that Bo Pelini is confident promoting defensive line coach John Papuchis rather than bringing someone new in.
Paul Finebaum of Sports Illustrated writes that Gamecocks' head coach Steve Spurrier has rejuvenated South Carolina's program and his "mojo." Unfortunately, with LSU and Alabama dominating the SEC this year, many people haven't recognized South Carolina's great season. Finebaum tries to shed some light on what Spurrier is doing with the Gamecocks.
Cornhuskers Player To Watch:
The Cornhuskers offense goes as quarterback Taylor Martinez goes. When he's on he can be great, as the 1,973 passing yards,12 passing touchdowns, 837 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns he accumulated this year show.
When he's off, though, this offense really suffers, so he needs to avoid adding to the seven picks he's thrown.
Gamecocks Player To Watch
Defensive end Melvin Ingram is a beast, and he can really disrupt Nebraska's offense in a big way. He racked up 44 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks this season, and I expect he'll be all over Martinez.
The Gamecocks may be without stud defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who is suffering from a concussion. If he's out, the Cornhusker offensive line can really focus on stopping Ingram.
Who Will Win This Game?
If the Gamecocks defense can get after Martinez they can force him into a bad game. That's the matchup you need to look out for.
South Carolina is the better team from the better conference.
Nebraska: 20 South Carolina: 27
Who Might Not Play For Nebraska: Running back Rex Burkhead probable (ankle), defensive end Eric Martin probable (ankle), tight end Ben Cotton probable (shoulder), offensive lineman Mike Caputo questionable (disciplinary), wide receiver Khiry Cooper questionable (knee), safety Courtney Osborne questionable (shoulder), defensive tackle Thaddeus Randle questionable (knee), offensive lineman Andrew Rodriguez doubtful (foot).
Who Might Not Play For South Carolina: Guard Terrence Campbell probable (leg), wide receiver Alshon Jeffery probable (hand), tackle Kyle Nunn probable (back), cornerback C.C. Whitlock questionable (eligibility), defensive end Jadeveon Clowney questionable (concussion).
All Injury Information Courtesy of USA Today.
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