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All selections, analysis and thoughts will be posted on the Bowl Express Thread
SPOOKY EXPRESS BOWLING FOR DOLLARS SELECTION AND ANALYSIS THREAD Capital One Bowl
South Carolina vs. Nebraska
Monday, January 2, 1:00 pm
This is one of the better bowls each postseason, matching up powers from the SEC and Big Ten. Both South Carolina and Nebraska will bring a ton of fans, and we should see a physical, “running game and defense” type of game in Orlando. Bo Pelini has taken the Huskers to a bowl game in each of his four seasons in Lincoln, while Steve Spurrier has led the Gamecocks to the postseason in six of his seven years in Columbia. One interesting note with these two teams is that both defensive coordinators were hired as head coaches in December. Nebraska’s Carl Pelini is headed to Florida Atlantic in the Sun Belt, while South Carolina’s Ellis Johnson is taking over at Southern Miss in Conference USA.
The Huskers rank 13th in the nation in rushing and the Nebraska passing game is limited. Fans know what to expect when Nebraska plays, and the running game will be the key like usual. South Carolina defense ranks fourth in the country in total defense and second in pass defense. The Gamecocks are led by a solid defensive line although rushing quarterbacks for Navy and Citadel were able to give the Gamecocks some headaches, so stopping Martinez could be a challenge.
October was a very turbulent month for the South Carolina offense. First, frequently-suspended quarterback Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the team. Second, the Gamecocks lost one of the better running backs in the nation when Marcus Lattimore suffered a knee injury in the Mississippi State game. Sophomore Connor Shaw took over at quarterback, and he has been more of a runner than typical Spurrier passer. Shaw played well late in the season. Freshman runner Brandon Wilds did a solid job in replacing the heralded Lattimore. This Gamecocks’ team is not the old-school Spurrier passing type, instead relying on the ground attack and stellar defense.
The Nebraska defense is led by All-America linebacker Lavonte David, who topped the team in tackles with 122 while also adding 3.5 sacks and two interceptions. The Huskers did not get a ton of pressure on opposing passers this season, but the key for the Cornhuskers in this game will be controlling the South Carolina run game. Nebraska definitely has the advantage in this special teams. Kicker and punter Brett Maher had an excellent season and was named first-team All-Big Ten at both positions. The Huskers also have one of the best returners in the nation in Ameer Abdullah.
South Carolina kicker Jay Wooten was 7-for-10 on field goals and only attempted two kicks of less than 40 yards. Spurrier does not like to settle for three points, and the Gamecocks went for it on fourth down 28 times this year. Punter Joey Scribner-Howard averaged 38.9 yards on 47 punts, with 10 of them inside the 20-yard line. USC does have a solid punter returner in Ace Sanders, who averaged 9.3 yards per return and scored once. Bruce Ellington, who also plays on the Gamecocks’ basketball squad, will return kickoffs.
This will be a very physical game, where a key turnover or rare big play in the passing game could be the difference. I like South Carolina’s advantage in talent, but Steve Spurrier-led teams often struggle in the postseason. After winning their first two bowl games under Pelini, the Huskers looked bad in last season’s Holiday Bowl loss to Washington. I see Nebraska struggling against the running game of South Carolina and have South Carolina winning this game by almost a touchdown. When I post this the numbers have been just absolutely outstanding this year once again. A touchdown here or there and we would be almost undefeated but then again a touchdown here or there and I may be not doing well at all. Will come back with any totals but for now lets go with USC and play them on the moneyline just in case.