When Nebraska has the ball

The Huskers are expected to have tight end Ben Cotton back on the field against the Gamecocks. That should be a big boost for the NU running game. Cotton is known as a outstanding blocker who can get to the outside and help players like Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez turn the corner.

Cotton's receiving statistics aren't that impressive. The junior has 13 catches on the season, good for seventh-best on the team.

It may not be easy to get the offense going against a South Carolina team that gives up just 135.9 rushing yards and 133 passing yards per game. The Gamecocks' speed on defense definitely has the Husker coaching staff's attention. That speed is more comparable to a team like Oklahoma from the Big 12 Conference than any team the Huskers have played this season in the Big Ten.

A couple of completions from Taylor Martinez to Cotton could help loosen up the Gamecocks' defense considerable.

Advantage: Even

When South Carolina has the ball

Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw has stepped in and done the job since former starter Stephen Garcia was benched and then dismissed from the team. Shaw is another one of those mobile quarterbacks - like Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Michigan's Denard Robinson - who have given the Blackshirts fits this season.

Shaw has 632 net yards rushing. When you take away the sacks, that total drops to 483. He is also 112-for-171 passing with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Nebraska has just 10 interceptions this season after having 19 in 2010 and 20 in 2009. At times the Husker defensive backs have been in position to make plays, but just haven't done it.

Losing sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore to a knee injury was a big blow to the South Carolina running game. Lattimore leds the Gamecocks in rushing with 818 yards, but true freshman Marcus Wilds has stepped up with three 100-yard rushing games in the last four games.

Advantage: Even

Special teams/intangibles

Both teams have plenty of motivation for this game. The Huskers don't want to end the season on a loss like they did last year. They also want to win 10 games for the third straight season as well.

The Gamecocks, who have won only four bowl games in the history of the program, want to earn that school-record 11th win.

As always, the Huskers will be strong in the kicking game with all-purpose kicker Brett Maher leading the way. Maher is 19-for22 in field goal attempts, including 3 for 6 beyond 50 yards. He also averages 45 yards per punt and has 19 touchbacks on 54 kickoffs.

South Carolina's Jay Wooten has made seven of his 10 field goal attempts and has six touchbacks in 67 kickoffs. Punter Joey Scribner-Howard is averaging 38.9 yards per punt.

It will also be interesting to see if new Nebraska special team's coach Ross Els has any affect on that part of the game.

Advantage: Nebraska

Prediction: This looks like a tight one, providing the Huskers can avoid turnovers that plagued them in road losses to Wisconsin and Michigan. Brett Maher just might make the difference. Nebraska 24, South Carolina 21.

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