Gamecocks look forward to Capital One Bowl

Though rumored to be the case for several days, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier and Athletic Director Eric Hyman officially accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Florida on Monday, January 2nd where they will meet the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It will be the first time the Gamecocks has ever played in the bowl.

"Around 8:15 I received a call on my cell phone from the selection committee for the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on February 2nd have invited us to the Capital One Bowl versus Nebraska," Spurrier said in a press conference Sunday night. "We certainly accepted it and we're excited to be going to this bowl. A lot of teams, coaches, and players thinks this is one of the best bowl trips in the country. An opportunity to go to Disney World and all the attractions in the Orlando area. We look forward to it and of course our team has a lot to play for."

South Carolina will have something special to play for. With its 34-13 dismantling of rival Clemson in the final regular season game, the Gamecocks won their tenth game of the season for just the second time in program history. The 1984 football team won their first nine ball games of the season before losing two of their final three games to finish the year at 10-2. When the Gamecocks step onto the field to take on Nebraska it will be trying to win it's eleventh game of the season for the first time in program history.

"We have as much to play far as any team in the country going to a bowl game with the exception of the National Championship game," Spurrier said. "It's the opportunity to have the best record in school history here going for the eleventh win. We know it won't be easy - it will be very tough to beat a very good Nebraska team and always have been. We're looking forward to the challenge."

Carolina has faced Nebraska only three times in its history, the two most recent coming in South Carolina's independent years in 1986 and 1987. In the ‘86 game the Huskers came away with a 27-24 win and in 1987 beat the Gamecocks 30-21.

"They're a tough bunch and we all know the history of Nebraska football, and one of the super tradition universities in college football," Spurrier said. "They're a lot more of a running team than they are a passing team, so defensively it will be a big challenge for our guys to face a really different style of offense."

Nebraska averages nearly 224 yards rushing per game. Running back Rex Burkhead leads the team with 106 yards per game and quarterback Taylor Martinez averages 69 yards per game. Burkhead has scored 15 times and Martinez has scored nine times.

It will be only the second time Spurrier has ever faced the Cornhuskers, but he would rather forget about the first meeting. Spurrier took his undefeated Gators to the Fiesta Bowl in 1995 to take on Nebraska, who had dominated everyone they played. Tommy Frazier and the Huskers ran wild on the Gators in a 66-24 thrashing.

"That was the last and only time," Spurrier said. "We got clobbered by Nebraska in the ‘95 game. We went out there 12-0 because we had the SEC (Championship) game. That was the only undefeated regular season Florida had ever had, and because we lost that game nobody ever talks about the ‘95 team down there at Florida."

Spurrier would also love to forget the last three bowl trips the Gamecocks have gone to. Following the 2008 season Carolina faced Iowa in the Outback Bowl, getting blasted 31-10. The following season Carolina was embarrassed by UConn in the Papa John's Bowl, 20-7. Last season the Gamecocks lost to Florida State, 26-17 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

"We hope the senior leadership on this team is a little bit different and the make-up of the team is a little different, but we have no excuses," Spurrier said. "We had our tails beat the last three bowl games and we're going to try not to get beat this time. We'll try to balance it the right way and hopefully our players and coaches will all know the importance of this game."

Spurrier has come under heat the last three years for his practicing philosophy prior to the bowl game, but does not plan to change much this year.

"We'll meet up this Friday and work out a little bit," Spurrier said. "You can't practice a whole month for one game so you try to balance it out a little bit and let the young guys practice a little bit more maybe than the older guys, but we'll try to practice about a good, solid two weeks and then when you get down there the guys will be focused in and looking forward to the ball game."

The state of Florida has always been a hotbed for recruiting, so the Gamecocks will look to impress the high school athletes in the state when Carolina heads to Orlando. 15 current Gamecock players hail from the state of Florida.

"We've had a little bit of presence down there," Spurrier said. "Not like Florida or Florida State and the other schools, but we're getting a little bit more spread out all over the south. The border states and Florida are where we need to stick to. There's plenty of ball players and it's important to get them."

Not only will the Gamecocks be looking to get their eleventh win for the first time in school history, but they will also be looking to finish in the top 10 in the BCS. The Gamecocks finished the regular season ninth in the BCS standings and will be looking to stay there when the final standings come out after the bowl season.

"I know finishing in the top ten is one of the goals our guys set at the beginning of the season," Spurrier said. "I think there is another vote after the bowl goals so we'll have to wait on that one, but as far as the regular season finishing in the top ten I guess is something we can brag about."

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