And finally, last month South Carolina notified the NCAA that it agrees that major violations took place in its football program. The school will eliminate six football scholarships over the next three years as part of several other self-imposed penalties for improper involvement with a mentoring group whose president are boosters and South Carolina graduates. The NCAA will decide whether to accept those in a February hearing.
Though another late-season loss to Arkansas kept the Gamecocks from making a second straight trip to the Southeastern Conference title game, the players are excited that there is still something to play for.
“We’re trying to build a winning tradition, so this is just another stepping stone,” South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram said. “
Ingram led the team with 8.5 sacks and will anchor a defense that allowed opponents just 18.8 points per game.
Injuries have played a role on both teams this season and in addition to Lattimore’s loss, the Gamecocks nearly lost standout wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who was limited during bowl practices back in Columbia after breaking his hand in the season finale win over Clemson.
But Spurrier said he should be ready to go Monday after going through workouts in Orlando this week following surgery.
“His hand should be pretty close to full speed,” Spurrier said. “No problems there.”
Both defenses will have to deal with mobile quarterbacks, who also have the ability to throw when necessary and could set the tone for the game.
Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez ran for more than 800 yards and nine touchdowns in addition to throwing for 1,973 yards and 12 scores.
South Carolina’s Shaw also threw for 12 touchdowns and ran for another seven.
Ingram said the Gamecocks’ defense welcomes the challenge of containing Martinez.
“He’s going to run hard, but we’re going to get to the ball harder,” he said. “It’s going to be big boy football.”
Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead also said he expects the game to be a hard-hitting affair.
“It’s going to come down to who’s the most physical team,” he said. “They’re very athletic, up front especially. Their D-line is one of the best in the country. So up front we’re going to have to win the battle and that’s where I think it lies at.”
New Cornhuskers defensive coordinator John Papuchis will be working his first bowl game in that role after previously coaching the defensive line and serving as special teams’ coordinator.