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Jan. 1, 2012

January 1, 2012
K. Miles, Coach Elliott, Coach Ward, M. Ingram

Orlando, Fla. – The No. 10/9 South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2, 6-2 SEC) face the No. 21/20 Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. on Monday, January 2. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET.

MEDIA COVERAGE: The 2012 Capital One Bowl will be televised nationally on ESPN with Joe Tessitore providing the play-by-play, Rod Gilmore handling the color commentary and Quint Kessenich patrolling the sidelines. A trio of former Gamecock greats handle the radio call for the Gamecock Sports Network. Todd Ellis is the play-by-play voice with 2009 SEC Legend Tommy Suggs providing the color commentary, while former NFL standout Terry Cousin works the sidelines.

A LITTLE HISTORY: 2011 marks the 118th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 105th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 553-543-44. The 2011 season marked South Carolina’s 20th year in the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season.

MAKING HISTORY: The Gamecocks won 10 games in the 2011 regular season, tying the school record for wins in a season. Only the 1984 squad previously accomplished the feat. The 2011 season marks only the fourth time that Carolina has won nine or more games in a season. They posted nine wins in both 2001 and again in 2010. The 2010-11 seasons are the first back-to-back nine-win campaigns in school history.

IN THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: The Capital One Bowl game represents the ninth time in 13 games this season that football fans across the country can watch the Gamecocks live, including seven appearances on either ESPN or ESPN2. CBS carried two contests nationally. Six of Carolina’s eight SEC games were televised nationally.

CAROLINA VS. NEBRASKA: This is the fourth time these two schools have met on the gridiron. The Cornhuskers have won each of the previous three encounters. Nebraska won by a 28-6 count in Lincoln on Oct. 10, 1964, posted a 27-24 win in Columbia on Oct. 4, 1986, then came away with a 30-21 victory in Lincoln on Oct. 3, 1987.

GOING BOWLING: The 2012 Capital One Bowl will mark Carolina’s 17th bowl appearance overall. The Gamecocks are 4-12 all-time in bowl games. They dropped their first eight bowl games, won three straight and now have lost three in a row and four of the last five.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The host Nebraska Cornhuskers, ranked second in the nation, scored 17 fourth quarter points to overcome an eight-point deficit in defeating Carolina by a 30-21 score in Lincoln on Oct. 3, 1987. Todd Ellis threw two touchdown passes in the game, including a 35-yard pass to Ryan Bethea in the second quarter, and an 80-yard strike to Sterling Sharpe in the third quarter. Bethea also scored on a 17-yard reverse midway through the third period, giving Carolina a 21-13 lead. Keith Jones scored two fourth quarter TDs for Nebraska, avoiding the upset. Nose guard Roy Hart was credited with a career-high 19 total tackles in the contest. Ellis finished the day 17-for-36 for 256 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.

CAROLINA VS. THE BIG TEN: The Gamecocks are just 3-9 all-time against teams that currently comprise the Big Ten Conference. However, that number is somewhat skewed in that they are 0-5 combined against Nebraska (0-3) and Penn State (0-2) when neither of those schools was member of the Big Ten at the time of the game. Carolina is also 2-0 against Ohio State, 1-1 versus Michigan, and 0-1 when playing Iowa, Indiana and Northwestern. The last time Carolina faced a Big Ten foe was in the 2009 Outback Bowl when it dropped a 31-20 decision to Iowa.

THE HEAD BALL COACH: Steve Spurrier is in his seventh season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 54-35 mark (.607) in Columbia. The Head Ball Coach ranks second on the school’s all-time wins list with 54 behind only Rex Enright (64) and third in games coached with 89 behind Enright (140) and Paul Dietzel (96). Spurrier owns a 196-75-2 mark (.722) as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at South Carolina.

SPURRIER VS. NEBRASKA: Head coach Steve Spurrier has faced the Cornhuskers once in his career, losing the 1996 Fiesta Bowl by a 62-24 score for the national championship.

UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Head coach Steve Spurrier is taking the Gamecocks to a sixth bowl game in his seven-year tenure. The Gamecocks have been bowl-eligible in all seven of his seasons in Columbia, but were not selected following the 2007 season with a 6-6 record. No other coach in Carolina history took the Gamecocks to more than three bowl games (Jim Carlen and Joe Morrison). Lou Holtz is the only Gamecock coach to post two bowl victories.

BEEN HERE BEFORE: The Gamecocks have played in this bowl game once previously, back in 1975, but it was known then as the Tangerine Bowl. Carolina dropped a 20-7 decision to Miami (Ohio) in front of 20,247 fans that December day despite a strong effort from quarterback Jeff Grantz.

REGULAR SEASON SUCCESS: The Gamecocks have won 13 times in their last 15 regular season contests. Going back further, the Gamecocks have won 20 of their last 25 regular season games.

SENIOR CLASS WINS: The Gamecock seniors have won a school record 33 times (7 in 2008 and `09; 9 in `10 and 10 in `11). The previous four-year high was 29 wins, set last season.

OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE: The Gamecocks are 4-0 in non-conference action this season, staying undefeated in regular season non-conference play for the third consecutive year. They were 4-1 in non-league games in 2010 after losing to Florida State in the bowl game. They are 25-7 in non-conference games under head coach Steve Spurrier, including wins in 23 of their last 28 non-SEC tilts. The year-by-year breakdown: 2005 (2-2); 2006 (5-0); 2007 (3-1); 2008 (3-2); 2009 (4-1); 2010 (4-1); 2011 (4-0). They have a regular season winning streak over non-conference opponents of 12 games. South Carolina’s last regular season non-conference loss came over 1,000 days ago, at Clemson in 2008.

THE LAST TIME OUT: The Gamecocks put together maybe their most complete game of the year in routing ACC Champion Clemson, 34-13, in Columbia on Nov. 26. The Gamecocks dominated on both sides of the ball, using a balanced offense that generated 210 rushing yards and 210 passing yards, along with a stingy defense that limited the high-octane Tiger offense to just 153 yards on 60 plays, including just 83 through the air. Quarterback Connor Shaw was named the Co-SEC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing 19 times for a career-high 107 yards and completing 14-of-20 passes for 210 yards. He accounted for four touchdowns, including three through the air. Kenny Miles came off the bench to add a season-high 71 yards rushing. The Carolina defense posted five sacks, eight tackles for loss and an interception.

GOOD HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks have done a good job of protecting their home turf of late. The Gamecocks were 6-1 at home this season, the third straight year in which they won six of seven home contests. The only home losses in the last three years came to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011. Carolina is 20-3 in its last 23 home games.

AND NOT BAD ON THE ROAD EITHER: The Gamecocks had their school record six-game road winning streak snapped at Arkansas. Carolina finished the 2011 campaign with a 3-1 road record (wins at Georgia, Mississippi State and Tennessee, loss at Arkansas), its best road record since posting a 4-1 mark in the 2006 season (wins at Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Clemson, loss at Florida).

WINNING MORE OFTEN: The Gamecocks have posted a fourth-straight winning season and a school-record eighth-straight season of at least a .500 record, surpassing the previous mark of seven-straight seasons of .500 or better set from 1928-34. The Gamecocks went 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 6-6 in 2007, and 7-6 in both 2008 and 2009 before logging a 9-5 record in 2010.

AN SEC SIX-PACK: The Gamecocks recorded six SEC wins for first time in school history. They finished the 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2010 seasons with 5-3 SEC marks. The 2011 season marked the ninth time they finished with at least a .500 record in SEC play (also 4-4 in 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2008).

GAINING THE SWEEP: The Gamecocks posted a perfect 5-0 mark against SEC Eastern Division rivals, also a first in school history. They have won nine of their last 10 contests within the division. They logged a 4-1 record within the division twice previously, both under Coach Spurrier, in 2005 and again in 2010.

GAMECOCKS IN THE SEC: The Gamecocks wrapped up their 20th season of league play in the Southeastern Conference with a school record six SEC victories. They have played 160 SEC regular season contests since joining the league. They have had significantly more success of late.

NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: The Gamecocks have swept the “Big Three” of the SEC East – Florida, Georgia and Tennessee – in back-to-back seasons. They had never pulled the trifecta in any season prior to 2010. From 1992-2003, Carolina was 5-34 against the “Big Three,” going 4-9 against Georgia, 1-12 versus Tennessee and winless in 13 tries against Florida. Since Coach Spurrier took over in 2005, Carolina is 10-11 against those same three teams including a 6-0 mark in the past two seasons. Since 2005, they are 4-3 versus Tennessee and 3-4 against both Georgia and Florida.

BCS STANDINGS: The Gamecocks were ranked ninth in the final BCS Standings. It marked the highest final ranking for the school in its history. After getting off to a 6-1 start, they came in 14th in the initial BCS Standings of 2011. They climbed to 13th the following week, then rose to No. 9 before losing at No. 7 Arkansas. The No. 9 ranking was the school’s highest since they were 6-1 and ranked sixth in the BCS during the 2007 season.

IN THE POLLS: Carolina opened the 2011 season ranked 12th in both polls, the highest ever to start a season. Previously, they had been ranked six times in the preseason AP poll. They were No. 14 in 1959, No. 17 in both 1970 and 1985; 19th in 1988, 21st in 2001 and 22nd in 2002. The current stretch of 30 consecutive weeks in the AP Top-25, dating back to the second week of the 2010 season, is a school record.

TOP TEN FINISH: The Gamecocks are ranked 10th in the final regular season Associated Press poll, the first time they have finished the regular season in the top 10 since the 1987 team was ranked ninth with an 8-3 record. That team went on to finish 15th in the final poll after losing the Gator Bowl to LSU, 30-13.

BEST EVER?: As they enter the bowl game ranked among the nation’s top 10, the Gamecocks have a chance to finish the season as the highest-ranked squad in school history. The Gamecocks will finish among the nation’s top-25 in back-to-back years for just the second time, joining the 2000 and 2001 squads under Lou Holtz.

FINISHING STRONG: The Gamecocks have won their last three contests. A bowl win would extend that winning streak to four. They have not finished a season with four consecutive wins since the 1958 team defeated Furman, Virginia, NC State and Wake Forest to finish a 7-3 campaign.

DEFENSE STEPS UP: The Gamecock defense has surrendered 24 touchdowns, but 14 of those have come in three games, while they have allowed just 10 touchdowns in the other nine contests. The Gamecocks have allowed 147 points over its last 10 games, an average of 14.7 points per game, after allowing 79 points in the first two games. Their opponents’ scoring average is at 18.8 points per game, 13th in the country.

TOP-FIVE D: The Gamecocks have held four teams to under 200 yards of total offense this season (Vanderbilt-77, Kentucky-96, Tennessee-186 and Clemson- 153). South Carolina ranks fourth in the country in total defense. They are one of only nine schools that have allowed under 300 yards of offense per game.

NOT BY AIR: The Gamecocks are second the country in pass defense and pass efficiency defense, allowing just 133.00 yards per game through the air.

PICK THIS: The Gamecocks lead the SEC with 18 interceptions. Two have gone for “pick-sixes” with one from Antonio Allen at Georgia and one from Devin Taylor at Arkansas. The school record for interceptions in a season is 23, set three times: 1981, 1984 and 1987.

HIGH WATER MARK: The Gamecocks have established a new high mark under Coach Spurrier with 30 turnovers forced through 12 games, an average of 2.5 per game. The previous record under Coach Spurrier was 27 turnovers forced during the 2008 season. The school record for turnovers forced in a season is 39 (3.25 per game), set in the 12-game 1987 campaign.

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: The Carolina defense and special teams have been responsible for seven touchdowns this season. Defensive end Melvin Ingram has scored three times, a 68-yard run on a fake punt and a five-yard fumble return, both at Georgia, and a fumble recovery in the end zone against Vanderbilt; Spur Antonio Allen has scored twice, a 25-yard fumble return against ECU and a 25-yard interception return against Georgia; Ace Sanders scored on a 68-yard punt return against East Carolina and Devin Taylor scored on a 48-yard interception at Arkansas.

SACK ATTACK: South Carolina features one of the top sack trios in the SEC in senior Melvin Ingram (T4th-8.5 sacks), freshman Jadeveon Clowney (9th-6.0), and junior Devin Taylor (11th-5.0). With 20.0 career sacks, Ingram ranks fourth on Carolina’s all-time list behind Eric Norwood (29.0), Andrew Provence (26.0) and John Abraham (23.5).

GOING FOR IT: Head coach Steve Spurrier has not been shy about going for it on fourth down this season. The Gamecocks lead the SEC with 20 fourth-down conversions. Only Duke (22) and Air Force (21) have converted as many fourth downs as Carolina and only six other schools have attempted as many 4th downs as Carolina’s 28.

MAKING A POINT: The Gamecocks have scored 361 points and are averaging 30.1 points per game, ranking fifth in the SEC. They set the school record in 2010 when they tallied 433 points, an average of 30.9.

SLOW START, FAST FINISH: The Gamecocks have been outscored 59-44 in the first stanza but have outscored their opponents 120-67 in the second period, 97-30 in the third quarter and 100-70 in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks gave up the game’s first points in each of the first 10 games of the season (and in 13 straight extending back to last year) before scoring first against both The Citadel and Clemson.

PLAYING WITHOUT ONE OF THE BEST: The Gamecocks have been without standout sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore after he suffered a knee injury late in the game against Mississippi State in game seven. Lattimore finished the season with 818 yards on 163 carries, an average of 5.0 yards per carry. He ranked among the SEC and national leaders in rushing at 116.9 yards per game, scoring at 9.4 points per game, and in all-purpose yards per game at 142.9.

HE WILL BE MISSED: After just two seasons, Marcus Lattimore has left his mark on the Gamecock record books. He ranks 14th in school history with 2,015 rushing yards, is tied for third with 27 rushing touchdowns and is third with 30 touchdowns scored. Lattimore had four 100-yard rushing games this season and eight in his career. He ranks in a tie for seventh on the South Carolina list for 100-yard rushing games in a career with Jay Lynn Hodgin and Clarence Williams. He was a third-team Phil Steele Midseason All-American and first-team All-SEC performer.