Much like 2012, the SEC finished 2-1 against the Big Ten on New Year’s Day.
South Carolina 34, Wisconsin 24
South Carolina completed their third 11-win season in a row to finish 11-2 in 2013. And as it has been the case all season, Connor Shaw led the Gamecocks. Here are the main takeaways:
- Connor Football was ridiculous. Shaw scored touchdowns three different ways: passing, rushing and receiving. He completed 22 of 25 for 312 yards and three touchdowns, and he combined for 371 yards and five touchdowns. What a way to cap off an incredible career and incredible senior season.
- Shaw was great, but his receivers were just as great. Bruce Ellington caught six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns, while Shaq Roland also caught six for 112 yards. Nick Jones caught three passes, as did TE Jerrell Adams.
- Freshman linebacker Skai Moore is such a great looking young player. Moore picked off two passes, and he’s as sure of a tackler as the Gamecocks have on defense.
The Good Enough:
- We knew coming into the game the running defense would have to bring it today, and the Badgers ended up rushing for 286 yards. After QB Joel Stave was injured, the threat of the passing game diminished. So, there was no way for the Badgers to offset the running game. Still, 286 yards is a nice clip in a winning effort.
Setting up for a big 2014:
- The Gamecocks return a heap of talent on both sides of the ball. Outside of Connor Shaw, Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles for sure, there’s a great nucleus of talent returning. CB Vic Hampton and WR Bruce Ellington could also pull the NFL trigger, depending on their draft grades. Still, the Gamecocks are set up for another great season in 2014.
LSU 21, Iowa 14
LSU beat the Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl, and they played just good enough to win in Tampa. Here are a few takeaways:
- This is likely the last time Jeremy Hill plays college football, as most think he turns pro early. But he had a monster day, rushing for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Hill entered the game as the game plan, and the game plan delivered in a big, big way. Fullbacks Connor Neighbors and JC Copeland did a fantastic job, along with the offensive line. Hill’s 14-yard and 37-yard touchdown runs were enough to pull the win.
- If not for big kick return, LSU played a fundamentally sound football game, led by the defense. The Hawkeyes managed just 233 total yards and 76 rushing yards. Craig Loston’s INT in the fourth quarter was a huge difference maker and key play.
- QB Anthony Jennings had a mixed performance, but this start was crucial for furthered growth and development. This is a key offseason for LSU with Jennings at the helm.
- The biggest question now is just how bad the NFL Draft will wipe out LSU again. Receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham could declare early, and tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson (didn’t play in the game) could also both leave early.
Nebraska 24, Georgia 19
In a wet and sloppy Jacksonville, Florida, Nebraska got the Big Ten on the board with their win over the Bulldogs. Here are a few takeaways:
- QB Hutson Mason played well on a wet day, finishing 21 of 39 for 320 yards, one touchdown and one INT. The wet ball was tough for Mason to throw all day, but even though he struggled some, he still put the Bulldogs in a position to win it on the final drive. Georgia’s offense with Mason will be fine in 2013.
- RB Todd Gurley was Georgia’s horse, and they were determined to ride him to victory. He rushed 21 times for 86 yards, and he also caught seven passes for a team-high 97 yards and one touchdown. Without Georgia being able to stretch the field with a legit deep threat at receiver, Gurley had to become a bigger weapon in the passing game. He’s done just that to finish 2013. He’s the best running back in college football entering 2014.
- Georgia’s senior tight end and receivers let them down when they needed them the most. Rantavious Wooten dropped a couple crucial passes in the final two possessions, and Arthur Lynch’s drop on the final drive was a killer. Had Lynch caught that pass, he walks right in for a touchdown. Instead, Nebraska forced a turnover on downs and the game was over. Tough way to end such a fabulous career for Arthur Lynch.
- Although Marshall Morgan made four field goals and continued his All-SEC season, special teams reared its ugly head again. Freshman receiver Reggie Davis’ muffed punt cost Georgia seven points in the first quarter. The Bulldogs’ special teams were borderline brutal the entire season, and the time for Georgia getting a special teams coach is now.
- The third and 14 that resulted in the 99-yard touchdown was a killer. Nebraska WR Quincy Enunwa was wide open, and freshman safety Quincy Mauger was late getting there. The result was the longest touchdown pass of the college football season. The secondary struggled all season, and that play was a killer.
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