The 2011 USC football team wrote itself into the Gamecock record books Monday becoming the first in school history to 11 wins with a 30-13 defeat of Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. The Gamecocks finish the season at 11-2 while Nebraska winds up at 9-4.
AUDIO: ESPN’s coverage of the award ceremony after the game.
The win also snaps a three game bowl losing streak for the Gamecocks and is their first ever over Nebraska in four meetings. And it should ensure their first ever top ten ranking when the final polls come out. The Gamecocks went into the game ranked 9th by the coaches and the BCS and 10th by the AP.
AUDIO: Steve Spurrier, Alshon Jeffery and Connor Shaw press conference
AUDIO: Bo Pelini and Rex Burkhead press conference
USC trailed early but the game turned on the final play of the first half. Stephon Gilmore set things up with a pass interception at the Gamecock 29. Three players later, Connor Shaw hit Alshon Jeffery with a 51 yard scoring pass as Jeffery out jumped three defenders at the one and dove into the end zone for the score. That gave USC a 16-13 halftime lead.
The Cornhuskers took the second half kickoff and moved down the field reaching the USC eight. But the drive stalled and Brent Maher missed a 36 yard field goal. That would be Nebraska’s last scoring opportunity. They would not get past their own 40 the rest of the game.
The score remained 16-13 going into the fourth quarter. USC started their first drive at the Nebraska 41 and with the help of a pass interference call, moved in for a score on a nine yard pass from Shaw to Kenny Miles.
On their next possession, the Gamecocks finished off the Cornhuskers going 71 yards in 13 plays including a 25 yard run by Shaw. Miles scored on a three yard run to make it a 30-13 game.
Nebraska took the early lead on a 30 yard touchdown pass from Taylor Martinez to Kenny Bell. The extra point was blocked by Travian Robertson and returned for two points for USC by Gilmore.
Later in the quarter Shaw ran in from a yard out to give the Gamecocks a 9-6 lead. The Gamecocks ran the ball on all 11 plays on that drive with Miles breaking off a 24 yard run.
The Cornhuskers answered with a 60 yard drive that was kept alive by a facemask penalty on Kelcy Quarles during a punt. Ameer Abdullah run in from a yard out for the touchdown and a 13-9 lead.
Nebraska had the chance to add to its lead early in the 2nd quarter. The Cornhuskers reached the Gamecock eight, but on third down Abdullah was hit hard by DJ Swearinger and the ball popped up into the air. Aldrick Fordham recovered for USC to snuff out the threat.
The Gamecocks then blew a scoring opportunity. A 70 yard pass to Jeffery put the Gamecocks at the seven. Miles carried to the one but a delay of game set the drive back to the six. Damiere Byrd was stopped at the three on a jet sweep, and Jay Wooten missed a 20 yard field goal.
Nebraska held the lead the rest of the half until USC scored on the final play on the pass from Shaw to Jeffery.