The Capital One Bowl has a classic Big Ten-SEC showdown as Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks face off against the Cornhuskers of Bo Pelini, fresh off a moderately successful 1st season in the Big 10. This bowl game typically happens new year’s day, but since the NFL filled that day up, it has been moved to Monday January 2 at 1:00. It should be a great game, and here’s how I expect it to go down:
Bowl Breakdown: The backbone of this South Carolina team looking for its winningest season in school history is the nation’s No. 4 defense. The Gamecocks have two outstanding defenders in Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney and one of the nation’s most potent front 7’s. They’ll be facing Nebraska’s dynamic backfield of Sophomore QB Taylor Martinez and Junior RB Rex Burkhead. The 2 have comined to lead the ‘Huskers offense to 30 points per game and a rushing attack that averages 224 rushing yards per game, which ranks 14th in the nation. The running attack of Nebraska is supplemented by Martinez’s developing passing game which seemed to mature in November as he threw for 4 TDs and 0 INT’s in the month of November while completing 57 percent of his passes. On the other side of the ball, Nebraska will have to contend with a rushing attack almost as potent as their own (although without leading rusher Marcus Lattimore) and an up-and-coming QB in sophomore Connor Shaw. Shaw started the season as the starting QB but was pulled in the opener against East Carolina and replaced by Stephen Garcia. He reclaimed the job 4 weeks later and has been steadily improving ever since. He’s not asked to do too much as Coach Steve Spurrier has dialed back his “fun-n-gun” offense from his Florida days and now relies on a solid running game and a stout defense. Nebraska has lost 2 of their last 4 games and hasn’t faced a defense as talented as South Carolina. It will be a very interesting and entertaining game to watch, but I think the SC defense will ultimately make the plays it needs to in order to secure the win for the Gamecocks and the SEC in the Capital One Bowl.
Lots of pro prospects from these to major programs especially on the defensive side of the ball…
Pro Prospects: Jared Crick-Nebraska-DT: Crick is a great interior pass rushing DT, but unfortunately due to injury he will miss this game, but could still recover for the pre-draft workouts and get into the end of round 1…Lavonte David-Nebraska-LB: David is a speed LB who excels in coverage and makes plays on the ball both in the air and tackling the receiver or rusher. He’s a little bit undersized for the NFL and struggles with shedding blockers because of it. He needs to go to the rigght system to excel, but should still go off the board in the mid to late 2nd round or the early 3rd round… Alfonzo Dennard-Nebraska-CB: Dennard is a athletic corner who has lock-down potential and excels in making plays on the ball. He does well in multiple kinds of coverage and is in the top 5 or 6 CB in the draft. The matchup between him and Jefferey should be a great one. He’ll probably come off the board in the middle of the first round, but if he falls to the Pats or other playoff team, he’ll be a great value pick…Alshon Jeffery-S. Carolina-WR: Jeffery is one of the top WR in the class of 2012. He’ll be off the board in the first 10 picks and if he’s added to the right team (for example-Carolina as some speculate) he’ll be an instant impact fantasy and reality football player. Jeffery is big, strong, has great hands, consistency, solid character, and has drawn comparisons to Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall (without the attitude), and Larry Fitzgerald. It will be a huge surprise if Jeffery isn’t a star in the NFL…Melvin Ingram-S. Carolina-DE/OLB: Ingram is part of the dynamic and powerful front 7 of S. Carlina. He’s a little bit of a tweener in that he doesn’t have the bulk for DT of the height for DE. He’s an incredible athlete though and has a variety of above average pass rushing moves as well as the ability to drop back in coverage. He may end up as an edge guy in a 3-4 scheme. He’s one of the best LB in the class and will go mid-to-late round 1 or maybe slip to round 2…Devin Taylor-S. Carolina-DE/OLB: Taylor is similar to Ingram in the roll they play in the front 7, but Taylor has another year of eligibility and would be best served to bulk up a bit and improve his strength and knowledge of the game and return for his Sr season. If he comes out now he’s a 3rd rounder most likely…Stephon Gilmore-S. Carolina-CB: Gilmore is one of the top CB’s in a very deep class in this year’s draft. He and Alfonzo Dennard are actually showing up right near each other on several big boards. The advantage Gilmore has is size, as he’s a much bigger Corner than Dennard. He doesn’t have the ball skills that Alfonzo has, but in press coverage he excels as well as in run support and blitzes. He is probably going to make a game-changing play at some point in this bowl game since it seems he does in almost every game he plays in. Gilmore will go in the early to middle section of the first round joining Jeffery and possibly Ingram as first round Gamecocks.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing series for our Bowl Mania. You can find the same type of analysis for the TicketCity, Gator, Chick-fil-A, Liberty, Kraft Fight Hunger, Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, and the Sun Bowls. Or check out the Full entry page to see how accurate our breakdowns were for the games that have already taken place.