Your New Year begins with a big dose of the Ol’ Ball Coach as Steve Spurrier looks to cap off a memorable year for South Carolina with a big win over Nebraska.
Heat on the Huskers
Last year the New Year’s Day slate was about as ugly as any Big Ten fan could have feared. Wisconsin and Northwestern lost to schools from Texas but the real damage came at the hands of the SEC. Michigan got mauled by Mississipi State in the Gator Bowl, Florida cruised past Penn State in the Outback Bowl and, worst of all, Michigan State got stomped by Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. It may be a day later this year but the Capital One Bowl is the biggest SEC vs Big Ten battle this season and it’s Nebraska’s turn to head to Orlando.
Much like 2010, 2011 was a good but not great year for Nebraska. Taylor Martinez proved he could be a menace against Big Ten defenses but he remains far from the finished product. The defense took a massive step back but still had some big days, most notably against Michigan State. Now, with conference pride on the line, the Huskers have the chance to finish on a high.
Gamecocks want to send a message
The SEC East looks poised to be a straight up fight between the Gamecocks and the Dawgs in 2012. This year the Gamecocks won their meeting with Georgia but lost out on the division crown, and with it a second straight trip to Atlanta. Steve Spurrier knows this program’s best shot at the BCS could come next season and he won’t be shy about making an end of year statement in Orlando. What better way to fire up the troops in Columbia than taking down one of the historical powers of the game?
The key to victory will be a managed offense and a fired-up defense. The Gamecocks have forced some big turnovers this season that led directly to points. I expect South Carolina to bring significant pressure on Martinez in the back field. Nebraska’s mix of quarterback runs and pitches to running backs makes them a perfect target for the (other) USC defense.
Few bowls deliver entertaining match-ups with the consistency of the Capital One Bowl. College Football betting fans should expect a close first half, with Nebraska’s defense keeping the Huskers in the game. Steve Spurrier has enough brains under that visor to find a way to mix things up in the second half and push the Gamecocks clear. I like South Carolina to cap the year with a win.
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