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Gamecocks break new ground at 11

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier saw his Gamecocks win 11 games for the first time in program history with a Capital One Bowl victory over Nebraska.

Associated Press

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier saw his Gamecocks win 11 games for the first time in program history with a Capital One Bowl victory over Nebraska.

ORLANDO — South Carolina's season was marred by the dismissal of its starting quarterback, the loss of its star running back to injury and an NCAA investigation for improper benefits.

Despite it all, the No. 10 Gamecocks won more games than any team in school history.

"This is for all fans of South Carolina — always," coach Steve Spurrier belted out during the postgame celebration.

Alshon Jeffery caught four passes for 148 yards and a touchdown before getting ejected for fighting, and the Gamecocks won 11 games for the first time, defeating Nebraska 30-13 at Monday's Capital One Bowl.

Spurrier said the players will have rings "with a big 'ole 11 on them" made for the Gamecocks (11-2) to mark the milestone.

Connor Shaw, who took over at quarterback when senior and former Jefferson High star Stephen Garcia was kicked off the team, came up big. The junior passed for two scores and rushed for another against the Cornhuskers (9-4). He threw for 230 yards and ran for 42 more.

Jeffery had a surprisingly productive day, weeks after surgery for a hand injury sustained in the regular-season finale. Then he was penalized and ejected in the third quarter along with Cornhuskers cornerback Alfonso Dennard when both exchanged punches.

TICKET CITY BOWL: Case Keenum ended his record-setting career with another performance for the history books.

The sixth-year senior threw for 532 yards and three scores, leading No. 20 Houston past No. 24 Penn State 30-14 in Dallas.

The Cougars (13-1) set a school record for victories and made Tony Levine a winner in his debut as coach. He took over when Kevin Sumlin left to take the Texas A&M job after the regular season.

Keenum came in as the NCAA career leader in yards passing and touchdown passes, then set a bowl record with 227 yards passing in the first quarter.

"I'm biased, obviously. I'd put him right at the top," Levine said when asked where Keenum ranks among the best college quarterbacks of all time. "You don't win 12 games by accident and I don't think you don't break the records he broke by accident, either."

The loss ended a tumultuous season for the Nittany Lions (9-4), who endured a child sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky. The scandal resulted in Joe Paterno being fired in the middle of his 46th season as coach. AP reported that San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is a finalist to replace Paterno.

Around the nation

NORTH CAROLINA: Junior defensive end Donte Paige-Moss told Tar Heels coaches he plans to enter the NFL draft.

WASHINGTON: Justin Wilcox was named defensive coordinator after leaving the same post at Tennessee. Linebackers coach Peter Sirmon left the Volunteers for the same job with the Huskies as well. Also, running back Chris Polk will skip his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.

Gamecocks break new ground at 11 01/02/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 2, 2012 10:07pm]
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