This year's Capital One Bowl pits the newest member of the Big Ten, Nebraska, against South Carolina of the SEC. The New Year’s classic will kick off at 1:00 p.m. on January 2nd from Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando and will be televised nationally by ESPN.
It marks just the second time that either team has played a football game in Orlando. The Cornhuskers' only other trip to the theme park capital of the world produced a 45-21 loss to Georgia Tech in this game at the end of the 1990 season when the game was called the Citrus Bowl. South Carolina hasn't been back since losing to Miami of Ohio in the 1975 game when it was known as the Tangerine Bowl.
Nebraska won all three previous meetings with the Gamecocks in 1964, 1986 and 1987.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier and Nebraska Athletics Director Tom Osborne squared off in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl for that season’s national championship, and Nebraska’s 1991 appearance against Georgia Tech in the City Beautiful featured the only game with national title implications to be played in the Citrus Bowl.
South Carolina comes into the Capital One Bowl with a 10-2 record (6-2 SEC) and on a 3-game winning streak. The Gamecocks' only losses came to Auburn and Arkansas. Despite the reputation of Spurrier as the head of an offensive aerial attack, South Carolina has relied more on its pass defense than its pass offense. The Gamecocks allowed a mere 133.0 yards per game through the air to rank 2nd nationally and they also feature the fourth-ranked overall defense in the country, giving up just 268.9 yards per game. But they rank 44th in rushing defense, allowing an average of 135.92 yards per game.
Nebraska (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) also ranks high in pass defense at No. 18 (189.1 ypg), but the 'Huskers only rank 66th at stopping the run as they have allowed 161.58 yards per game.
Head coach Bo Pelini will now have taken Nebraska to bowl appearances in each of his four seasons as head coach, posting a 2-1 mark prior to this year’s game. Amazingly, this year will mark the team’s 19th bowl appearance in the state of Florida.
Offensively, Nebraska had its best effect on the ground where it amassed 2,687 yards vs. 1,999 through the air. Rex Burkhead come into the game with 1,268 yards and 15 TD's. QB Taylor Martinez follows with 837 yards and 9 scores.
South Carolina's attack was only slightly more balanced as the Gamecocks ran for 2,376 yards and threw for 2,129. Last year's leading rusher, Marcus Lattimore, was a Heisman candidate this season before injuring a knee in the Mississippi State game on October 15. He already had 818 yards and 10 TD's at this point. Brandon Wilds had the most success in his place with three 100-yard games and a rushing total for the season of 486 yards.
The computer projects Nebraska to win by less than a point (0.41).